Some days the wind is in your hair and you’re riding like a champion on the final downhill of
the greatest cycle race in the world, other days you wonder if the music is loud enough to
drown out your moaning as you look at yourself and ask yourself what am I doing here…
There’s a good reason why spin is a great exercise choice from good posture to better
cardiovascular function and stronger muscles. That said, how you set up your bike, your
attitude and your posture for spinning matters in terms of the results you will gain in health,
movement and injury prevention.
I was reminded of the importance of bike set-up whilst providing care to a patient who
happens to be an elite cyclist recently. His training sees him in spin classes on top of the
endless road races he completes around the world. On discussion, we isolated the cause of
an injury to not enough care in his bike set-up during classes. With so much focus on road
conditioning, he was taking his spin bike for granted!
There were two factors he was overlooking; tension on the bike and a twisting posture
when lifting out of the seat. Even the elite are vulnerable to injury when set up and posture
lapse, it’s so easy to do. Bikes are used by so many people in spin studios and every bike is
going to be a slightly different ride. As an athlete, my patient found himself frustrated at
something so simple had led to injury. But it’s something that we can all avoid.
When you’re riding a bike your posture affects the way the messages from your brain travel
through your nervous system and communicate with your joints and muscles. You want to
get this right to have a fantastic workout, leave energised and strong and to prevent injury.
I’m a chiropractor and view posture and spinal health as a key ingredient to wellness.
Here are my 5 top tips for how to get the most out of your spin class:
1. If it’s your first time or you’re not familiar with the studio bikes always arrive early and
have the instructor give you a run over of the studio’s bikes.
2. Ensure your seat height, handlebar height and position works well for your height. You
need to be able to extend your leg with your foot flat to the bottom range on the pedal. If
you’re too high your knees will lock out and this is going to be a problem for your joints. If
you’re too low, it’s going to look like you’ve gone horse riding as your knees will splay
outwards and this isn’t good either. Both are an injury red flag ready to happen, and if
you’re not sure, a good instructor will assist you with your set-up.
3. Make sure your pedal strap is at the side of your foot, shoe laces tucked away and straps
nice and tight. Put the buckle of the strap at the side of your foot so there’s less chance
you’ll have a lack of circulation or a ‘pins and needles’ feeling in your legs or back as the
class goes on. If you’re using spin shoes make sure you check the cleats as they are used
often and many bike injuries occur when a foot slips out of an incorrectly secured cleat. If
you’ve ever seen someone’s foot leap off a pedal during a sprint you will appreciate it’s a
forgettable, regrettable and painful moment.
4. Be aware of your posture at all times in class. Look ahead and keep your airway open.
Shoulders need to be away from your ears. Your spine should be in a neutral position and
pelvic bone tucked slightly forward. Your spin class shouldn’t be a stressful environment, it
should be de-stressing from your workday and physical activity to release the pressure!
5. Use your spin class as an exercise in personal best. Be sensible and use your own personal
rate of exertion in the class. Spin is about intensity and extending your limits, but not
pushing beyond your level of control. You should not be chasing RPMs at the expense of
tension. So often I see people wobbling like a bowl of jelly on spin bikes because their
tension is too low. If this sounds like you, get that tension up! It can be easy to feel the
pressure to hit the target RPMs and follow those around you, but to do so without adequate
tension is a false economy. You’ll be risking injury without real reward. Slow down and find
your limits by turning that dial. Maintain form in your posture. Muscle control is a million
percent better for your ride and your health than wobbling all over the place, and RPMs
without tension will not help you build your strength, burn calories or improve
Remember, you can do all of this and still feel fatigued, worn out and sore after spin. You
can feel this way too before, and on the days when you skip class too.
If you really want to be at the top of your peak performance in fitness, at work and in your
life then making holistic and injury preventative health choices a priority is essential. As a
Chiropractor I get it and I see it – every day. I look after the healthy function of your nervous
system. What that means is that I clear the pathway for the messages from your brain to get
through to your entire body. Believe me, when this is working you feel it and heal it. Our
body is so awesome at adaptation to poor function that we can literally hop out of bed one
morning and feel utterly broken and unable to move. That’s because you will hit your pain
threshold and your body can no longer adapt to dysfunction.
Before the pain, the tense jaw, headaches, sciatica, tight glute most people miss the
connection that this is your nervous system giving you an early warning signal. We are
creating dysfunction and blocking the messages from our brain to our body with seemingly
irrelevant choices – like how we sit, stand and breathe… and more deliberate choices
including how we sloth, overindulge and beat ourselves up with crappy thoughts.
Enjoy spinning and make a deliberate choice to set yourself up for success in every class.
Even without aches and pains I always suggest getting checked by a Chiropractor if being in
peak health is important to you.
About the Author
Dr Elena Rosseel is a member at Infinite Cycle and a Chiropractor at Chirofamily in Coogee.
If you’d like a complimentary Posture Check contact the clinic on 93983699 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org and mention you’re a member at Infinite Cycle.
Dr Elena Rosseel, Chiropractor