Single leg training while injured or wait it out?

7 weeks ago I tore my MCL, crashed on a corner during a cyclocross race. I still am not able to do a full rotation on the trainer but I am getting a bit restless. Is it worth it to do single leg spins just to keep the cobwebs out or wait until I can ride with both legs, PT said need 120 degrees to ride. I am at 100 degrees of flexion and want to get on the bike NOW!!! then I say “no, you need to wait.”
Any past experience is welcomed-also nasty crash stories.

pictures for bruising gross outs below.

100% wait….there is zero advantage to doing single leg drills on your good leg.

It is winter and there is plenty of time. Breathe deep, enjoy laying on the couch and watching Netflix…you’ll be back at it soon enough.


Wait. Take the pedals off the bike and put them away. Your body is healing so let it heal. Always better to wait too long then to get another injury and be off even longer


Exactly, your training right now is laying around and recovering the injured leg. That’s all the stress your body needs. Also, eat. Not so much you gain 10lbs, but you need to fuel the work your body is doing, especially up the protein.

Think of it that way: your body is doing plenty of work right now. You need to help it recover just as you would if you were training your ass off on the bike. You’re not going to gain anything doing single leg stuff; just don’t.


Not a health expert by, you should wait by all means. I mean you can try to make the other leg stronger but what’s the benefit of it? I mean in terms of you cycling ability. So, my suggestion would be to wait it out.

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I am not yet back on bike after calf tear 5 months ago. Was foolish jumping back too fast what eventually prolonged my recovery. I strongly suggest you wait until fully recovered.

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Another vote for waiting- I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from single leg spins anyway.
If you’re just looking to keep moving, it might be possible to do some core/upper body stuff that doesn’t place any load on the injured leg, but that will depend on the specifics of your injury so definitely consult a professional on that one!

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Yeah, agree with posters above: better let leg heal.

Still, you can do lot upper body/core exercises that will benefit you as cyclist when can start training again: planks, pushups, pullups, etc. If you have access to SkiErg, using it in sitting position might help also keep endurance fitness plus it is also good triceps/core workout. You can get even good VO2max workout out of it but I would postpone more vigorous stuff until you feel better – while not loading leg, training recovery still grabs resources that are better used for injury recovery.

Speedy recovery.

Yip I agree with everyone ^^^^^^ I am no physio but whilst working your good leg I think it will bulk up too much compared to the injured one and you will end up with big imbalances @Furprincess

I’m a PT for reference.

I think single leg drills aren’t ideal but you can totally strengthen the other leg while the injured one heals.

There is a term called overflow, and many things about our muscles are mediated centrally. Meaning that because our brain controls both side of our body doing something on one side can affect the other.

The usual example is if you stretch one hamstring the other will get looser because stretching causes relaxation of things like golgi tendon organs and muscle spindle fibers (which control joint position and tone) are mediated by the central nervous system. So relaxing one side via stretching or foam rolling will have similar effects on the opposite side. So while muscle fibers wouldn’t grow on the uninvolved side, the central effect on muscle activation could improve or at least slow the decline. There is evidence of quad inhibition after pain/swelling in the knee that is purely central mediated (arthrogenic muscle inhibition).

So if you’re not gonna injure yourself getting on and off the bike I say try it (I hate single leg drills, they’re awkward and are weird) or try some exercises on the good leg in the meantime.

This is my opinion obviously. Not 100% science.

Also, it is very common to work on the uninvolved side post op because it’s going to have to do the lions share of weight bearing until the other leg heals.

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To be clear, I wouldn’t shy away from maintaining strength in the uninjured leg, but I think trying to do an hour of single leg cycling just because is not gonna be great. It could help the off leg, but single leg cycling is a heavy demand on the core as well and if you end up with a serious imbalance in cycling specific core muscles and I think that could well be a problem.

So single leg squats or presses or lunges? Sure. Long periods of isolated leg cycling just so you can feel like you rode your bike? No way I would recommend that, personally, at least not with a PT giving you some way to maintain that core balance.

I just think long (like more than a few minutes) of isolated leg cycling is a bad idea … really ever.

I wasn’t advocating doing an hour on the trainer on one leg. My guess is they could tolerate 10 minutes before being so uncomfortable they’d give up.

Also it takes time and repetition for things to become “unbalanced”, doesn’t happen overnight.

Also we’re not symmetrical creatures. We have hand and leg dominance and natural things in on our life that cause imbalance. It’s only bad when it becomes dysfunctional.

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My inference from the OP was she wanted to start doing rides with one leg, hence the comment on an hour. Everything you’ve said I would agree with, but I don’t think there is going to be tremendous benefit to her cycling by doing ILT on the one leg. I’d just rest personally, do strength work off the bike… ymmv.


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Thanks everyone for the input, I was leaning towards not doing single leg spins. went for a little flutter kicking/wading in the pool instead.


I’m sorry, I didn’t pay close enough attention. :blush:

The pool can be really good for rehab if you can cope with the boredom. (Also when you’ve got ROM back and want to build the load gradually) Depending on your injury/confidence levels swimming with a pull buoy might be an option too.