FES Bike, One Powerful Ride!

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Shockingly, subjecting my body with moderate volts of electricity is something I anticipate as much as I dread. The FES bike (Function Electrical Stimulation) is 60 minutes of bearable, on-the-edge torture which has exponentially increased my ability to build muscle in a shorter period of time.

This unique, restorative therapy bike provides the function of a bike combined with an electric current. Twelve electrodes with sticky pads are strategically placed on either my upper or lower body, shocking the weak muscles into working and getting stronger as the bike is pumped. My glutes (buttox) and hamstrings (back thigh) needed the most immediate attention.

Unsure of how certain pads would be placed in certain places, especially the glutes, I was a little nervous on exactly how the sticky pads would get there, and whose sticky fingers would get them there. Three seconds after I rolled over on my belly, I got my answer. Like ninjas, two, male REACT trainers discreetly slipped the pads down the back of my shorts onto my glutes before I could bat an eye. Whew, what a relief (until next week)! Even though this potentially embarrassing ritual is performed in front of God and everybody, the awesomeness of REACT is that everyone is in the same boat, so no one cares!

When pedaling either my arms or feet, electricity fires into the weak muscles, forcing them to engage and work. The trick is finding the delicate balance between intensity and comfort. At the beginning of each hourly session, the intensity of the zaps precariously teters on the verge of insufferable, making me want to get up and run away. Or, maybe that’s all part of REACT’s plan?…those evil geniuses! Actually, I only have myself to blame since I have total control over the amount of power I am willing to endure. At times, the minute, yet powerful current resembles a billion, fire ants biting on my body. Initially, I would have to surrender to the voltage, restarting the bike at a slightly lower intensity. Frustration would bow it’s uncharming head at the notion of stepping backwards. Once, again, I’d have to shake it off and think that this machine is made for people with paralysis who have either little or no bodily sensations. Thankfully, my body has full response to physical stimuli. Now that I’ve become more familiar with the FES, I’ve learned to push through the first ten, relentless minutes, allowing time for my muscles to warm up and calm down. Once I conquer this hill, I can pump at a good pace while managing a consistently challenging impulse. It’s moments like this that I tell myself mind over matter. Reaping long-term rewards will outweigh the immediate discomfort a trillion times over!

The FES bike has a self propelled mechanism, but I prefer to override that feature and pump it, myself. Yet, if I need a break, the bike will pick up my slack until I “stop sandbagging”, as I’ve been jokingly told. As I acclimate myself to the FES , I find my body allowing for greater pedal resistance and increased intensity of electric stimulation. In a short period of time, this bike has strengthened my glutes, making the simple act of sitting a thousand times more comfortable!

Pushing through the agitation has really paid off! After one month of starting REACT, every Tuesday and Friday, the FES bike has shown amazing results! I have increased overall muscle, but am especially excited how REACT’s FES bike has helped me gain 1/16 of an inch in my left calf, a quarter inch in my left thigh, and over a quarter inch in my right thigh!┬áPlus, cycling has strengthened my SI joint and, in turn, my confidence that it will finally hold in place. It, also, means less pain, resulting in longer intervals between chiropractor visits!

Feeling so blessed to be at REACT and to have the privilege of riding this life-changing bike!


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