How to Prevent Injury in Spinning Classes


Spinning, also known as indoor cycling, is a high-energy cardiovascular exercise that you can modify to reduce your chances of injury. Some symptoms of injuries that could occur during indoor cycling include pain in the Achilles tendon, back and neck, inflammation in the knees and numbness in the wrists and feet. You reduce your injury risks by adjusting the bike to fit your body, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear and following instructor guidelines, including performing a warm-up and avoiding high cadences.

Bike Adjustment

  • The first place to begin reducing injuries during a Spinning class is to properly set up the bike to fit your body. The proper adjustments start with seat height. Stand with your right hip next to the bike's seat, and use your fingers to locate the top of your right hip bone. Adjust the seat up and down to approximately the level of your hip bone. Sit on the seat and pedal a few rotations -- your leg should be almost completely extended when at the bottom of the rotation, and you should be able to reach this extended position without tilting your hips. If your knee has a lot of bend, adjust the seat higher. If you cannot comfortably reach the bottom of the rotation, lower the seat. The second adjustment is the forward/backward seat position. When set properly, as you pedal, your knee is directly in line with the ball of your foot when your knee is at the top of the rotation. If your knee moves forward over your toes, slide the seat back. The third adjustment is the height of the handlebars. Set these to a height that keeps your chest open, shoulders down, back straight, only a slight bend in your elbows and allows you to hold onto the bars with a relaxed grip. Consult your instructor to confirm your bike is set up correctly.

Comfortable Attire

  • The small seats of an indoor-cycling bike can be uncomfortable and cause pain or discomfort in your lower back or tailbone. Lessen the pain by sliding a gel seat onto the saddle or by wearing padded bike shorts. In addition to bike shorts, wear cycling shoes to help reduce other discomforts such as Achilles pain and foot numbness. Cycling shoes are available in different styles, but all have firm soles to support the muscles in your feet. Cycling shoes also allow you to clip into the pedals to give you greater foot and leg control. If you wear regular tennis shoes or don't have clips on your cycling shoes, slip your feet into cages fixed to the top of the pedals. If you use the cages, further eliminate foot numbness by placing the middle of your foot on the pedal and adjusting the tightness of the cages to secure your foot in place, but not cut off circulation to your toes.

Posture Check

  • Proper body alignment throughout your ride reduces your injury risk. Do a posture check to make sure your chin is parallel with the floor and your spine is straight without any rounding in the upper or lower back -- sit with your hips back on the seat to help with this. Reduce tailbone discomfort by sitting on the widest portion of the saddle and point your tailbone behind you instead of down. Prevent wrist injuries by aligning your wrists with your forearms so your wrist is straight.

Designing a Safe Workout

  • Use the first few minutes of a class to test the bike's set up. If the seat position or handlebar position feels uncomfortable, adjust it before you risk an injury. Begin your Spinning class by cycling at a low resistance and cadence for up to 10 minutes. As class continues, stand out of the saddle for five or 10 seconds at regular intervals if you experience pelvis and lower back discomfort. During sprints, avoid pedaling at a pace faster than 110 revolutions per minute. Pedaling faster than 110 RPM increases your risk for a knee injury. Further protect your body by limiting your group cycling workouts to 60 minutes on three or four days a week and by stretching your legs, back and arms for a total of five minutes after the cycling sessions.

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