For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

Bad Back, Watch Your Form

Orthopedic issues can hinder many people from effectively carrying out a workout program that is sustainable.  Complaints about back issues, knee issues and even hip issues are to blame.

What should you do if this is you?  First, Spin(R) is a closed chain exercise program.  Closed chain means that your feet are in contact with a surface the entire workout which is much gentler on the joints.  There is virtually no pounding.  So, for those of you who suffer orthopedic issues, closed chain type excercises are a terrific way to build up muscle strength without further impeding on the injury.  

However, even though closed chain activities like Spinning(R) are good on the joints, improper form within these activities is not. Every class I teach, I ask the entire room to inform me if they need help with bike set up. Most of the room will not respond if they are veteran Spin(R) students.  I still walk around and check out the biomechanics of each student anyway, and tend to advise that students either raise their seat slightly, or adjust their seat to go forward or back.  Some students are shocked to find out that the bike even moves fore and aft. And so, I teach people to make the bike fit their body vs. the other way around.

Some key points to think about for when you get on your Spinner(R) next is to:

  • Make sure the seat puts your leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke approximately 25 degrees at the knee.  This is enough flexion (of a bend) in the knee to avoid hyperextending the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  You also want to avoid hyperflexion (too much of a bend) at the bottom of the pedal stroke. 
  • Make sure your seat is far enough back where your knee tracks over the ankle as it drives down each stroke.  You know you are too far back with your seat if you are struggling a little to reach the handlebars.  Be sure to be forward enough where you can reach the bars and even bend the elbows and softly place your hands in neutral.
  • Make sure you raise the handlebars high enough to help you avoid struggling with your head, neck, and shoulders from having pressure on them.  The height of the handles in Spin, in my opinion, should be more up than down to avoid any lower back tweaks that can occur if the handles are too low. 

Very simply put, make sure your bike feels like it's yours.  Otherwise, you risk pulling your back outand hurting your knees.  Injuries are NEVER fun. Also remember, no pushups on the bike.  Ride your Spin(R) bike the way you would an outdoor bike.  If you have never rode a bike outdoors, than find a video of Lance Armstrong or someone who is riding just to review their form.  Yup, a pretty straight forward sport with no circus tricks!

To your health!


Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT

Author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools




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