I Love Spinning and Cycling, But Am I Riding Correctly?

Indoor cycling, or spinning, has gained popularity over the past couple years.  It’s a great way to burn calories and work up a sweat while challenging your cardiovascular system, endurance, and strength.  As a cyclist, I’ve had an opportunity to spin in different studios with a variety of instructors.  If you’re looking to get into spinning, here are a few tips that will help you enjoy the class and prevent injuries.

#1.  Make Sure Your Bike Fits:  If it’s your first time, make sure the instructor helps you adjust your bike.  Most of the time, they’ll adjust the height of the saddle by making sure it’s level with your pelvic bone when you’re standing next to the bike.  If you’re toes are pointed down at the “6 o’clock position”, the saddle is too high.  At the bottom of the pedal stroke, you should have a comfortable bend in the knee (~30-35 degrees) with the foot parallel to the ground.  Another adjustment that can be made is to make sure the saddle itself isn’t too far forward or backwards.  If positioned too forward, the quadriceps will work too hard which might lead to knee pain.  If positioned too far back, the hamstrings will be stressed which can cause a muscle strain or a pulled “hammy.”

#2.  Pedaling Speed (Cadence):  In every class I’ve been to, there’s at least one person who looks like they’re going to fly off their bike because they’re pedaling way too fast.  When observed from behind, their pelvis is violently rocking side to side or bouncing up and down uncontrollably on the saddle.  The solution to prevent this is to turn up the resistance.  That way, you have more control of the bike and get a better workout while reducing the risk of injury.  The same can be said about having too much resistant.  Find a happy medium between too hard and too easy.

#3. Use Your Glutes:  When riding a spin bike, most people feel the burn in the quads when they push the pedal down.  In the short term, this might be ok but in the long term, it’s a one way ticket to knee pain.  Ideally the movement, or power, should come from your hips, more specifically your glutes.  These muscles are much larger and more powerful than your quads.  In order to engage your glutes, try to “fold” slightly forward at your waist (abs will need to engage) and instead of pushing the pedal down, try pushing it behind you.

#4.  Know Your Limit:  Group classes are fun because everyone is working out together.  But this togetherness may push you beyond what you are physically capable of doing leading to injuries.  The person next to you might spin 7 days/week so don’t feel pressured to keep up with him or her.  The instructor will also constantly motivate you to turn up the resistance.  But if you feel like you’re in a good rhythm and you’re near your max physical threshold, don’t feel the need to turn that dial.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or call 626-365-1380 ! 

Dr. Raymond Shing (Physical Therapist, Bike Fitting Specialist)