By Usker Naqvi, MD, MS
Spin classes are increasing in popularity, and while cycling is a great low-impact way to break a sweat, improper form can lead to injuries and pain. Here are a few tips to avoid neck and back pain while you are enjoying the fitness benefits of spin class.
New to Spin?
Whether you are joining a spin class or have purchased a bike such as a Peloton for home, one important thing to keep in mind is to start out slowly. Remember, before beginning any new exercise routine, including spinning, be sure to consult your physician.
One of the great things about cycling is that it provides a low-impact way to get in some cardio. However, pay attention to your riding posture, which can place stress on your neck and back. One of the best ways to achieve good riding posture is to make sure that your bike fits your body. Here are some things to remember when fitting your bike to your body:
• Seat height. When standing beside your bike, the seat should reach the bony part of your outer hip.
• Handlebar height. You should be able to grip the handlebars without reaching for them. Keep your shoulders back and a slight bend in your elbows. Use a light grip on the handlebars.
• Avoid Hunching. Start with your body in a neutral riding position (your hips and shoulders are back, not rounded or overextended). Then bring the pedals so they are even with each other. Keep your hips in a neutral position and avoid your body hunching during the ride. When pedaling, be sure your chest remains open. Start out slowly to determine if you need to adjust the seat or handlebars to maintain good posture. If you are attending a spin class, arrive early and ask the instructor or an employee to assist you with fitting the bike for you. After the first few times, you will get the feel of doing it yourself.
Choosing Your Ride
Whether you are joining a spin class or riding at home, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to help prevent neck and back pain.
• Low-impact rides and those with flat terrain are great for riders of all levels. They tend to be smoother and less stressful on your body, especially your neck and back.
• The length of your ride is important. When you are just starting out, pacing yourself is the safest way to help avoid neck and back pain. Begin with shorter classes and work up to a 60-minute class. If your ride is too long for your capabilities, you’re more likely to assume a slouched position as you fatigue. It’s key to listen to your body if you begin to experience pain. Take breaks when you need to, stretch and get back to your ride.
• Should I stand on the bike or stay seated? When making this decision, keep in mind that listening to your body here is again key. Standing up can allow you to readjust your body’s alignment; however, being out of the seat too long may cause you to injure yourself. Some people use standing as an opportunity to readjust the resistance. If you turn it too low, you may be prone to injuring your back because the pedals may not support your weight, and you may find yourself hunching too far forward. This can lead to strain on your neck and back, causing pain.
After class, you might find that your muscles are sore. However, if you experience ongoing pain, your body may be telling you something is wrong. Try resting for a few days and see if the pain subsides. Then start spinning again slowly to see how you feel. If your pain persists, please see a physician.
Spinning can lead to neck and back pain if you don’t set up your bike properly, if you push yourself too far or if you don’t listen to your body. If you do find yourself experiencing back or neck pain that doesn’t get better, schedule an appointment with one of the specialists at Resurgens Spine Center, and we will help get you back to doing what you love.
Usker Naqvi, MD, MS, received his medical degree from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Miami Leonard R. Miller School of Medicine/ Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Dr. Naqvi completed a fellowship in Interventional Spine and Sports Medicine at OSS Health in York, Pennsylvania. He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Additionally, he is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the North American Spine Society and the Spine Intervention Society. Dr. Naqvi practices at the Resurgens Covington and Decatur locations.
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