If you like to maximize effectiveness and safety while working out, here are the most important checks you should make before stepping into the seat of an Upper-Body machine:
Adjust the Articulating head
The axis of the crank arms needs to adjust to the height of the user, whether they are seated or standing. If the axis is too high there will be impingement at the 12 o’clock position. Too low and there can be supraspinatus/biceps tendon strain at the 6 o’clock position. In most cases, it is ideal to set the axis level to the shoulder or just 1-2” below.
Move the adjustable crank arms so that they’re perfectly in reach
The crank arms need to be adjusted as well—a short-limbed person would not want to start with a long crank arm that takes them out of their prescribed range of motion (ROM). Conversely, a long-limbed person would lose mechanical advantage and optimal ROM with too short of a crank arm. Independent adjustments allow users to select a shorter ROM setting on the involved side while maintaining mechanical advantage on the strong side; providing passive assistance when beneficial.
Reverse the crank arms occasionally
The ability to change the crank arm orientation from the standard bicycle offset movement to work in unison or in a rotary rowing pattern is advantageous. It allows the user to work in core flexion versus rotation in cases where torso rotation is undesirable.
Utilize Bi-directional capability
Bi-directional movement is essential for muscle and joint balance, but perhaps more importantly for neuromuscular kinesthesia. When we cue the patient to go backwards, 99 times out of 100 their neuromuscular hardwiring will tell them to pull. When we cue them to go forward their brain will tell them to push. But as their kinesthetic awareness expands they will come to realize that as only part of the total equation. In fact, in the course of any given rotation there are myriad push/pull combinations. As these new neuromuscular pattern connections are made, kinesthesia, motor skills, and even cognitive skills are improved. Anything that takes the patient out of the dominant pattern makes the brain-muscle connection stronger and actually smarter.
Make sure the handle angle is neutral
It is important that the handle angle keeps your forearm in the anatomically neutral position. Over pronating and over supinating creates torque and stress in both the proximal and distal radio-ulnar joints.