How to Avoid Injury When Indoor Cycling | 5 Ways
Indoor cycling is a fantastic sport, and once you get the swing of it can be such a great habit that can completely change your health, social circles, and also the way you look. Though indoor cycling is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise, if done incorrectly, you can get injuries from this.
Injuries are very annoying and can quickly take away an activity we love. It’s a horrible feeling knowing your friends are online with their Peloton or at a class, and you’re sitting at home trying to find out why you’re getting awful knee pain. Do not worry though. There are ways to avoid injury altogether, and in this guide, we’re going to tell you how.
Have a Proper Warm Up
I know it can feel like a waste of time doing a warm up, but it makes such a difference. Not only to your workout, but as far as avoiding injury, it is incredible. There are many ways to do a warm up for indoor cycling, and getting it right is critical. I am a firm believer in doing a dynamic stretch and then going into a like build up of cardiovascular power. Your warm up will take three to five minutes. So what does that look like?
Exercises to Start
The first thing you need to do is some bodyweight exercises. When you do these, remember you are doing them as a warm up, so just keep it with your body weight and slowly ease into the correct form. It’s just about opening up the body’s movement. I would consider doing 2 sets of 10 of each exercise and just letting the body use the movement.
- Bodyweight Squats
- Lateral Lunges
- Traditional Lunges
- Leg Swings
After you have done these, your muscles will be ready to get on the bike, and now it’s time to get that cardiovascular engine up and running. I would start at about 20% of your max effort, and then every minute, add an extra 10%. After 5 minutes, your body will be at 60% effort, and you will be ready for anything.
Spin Bike Fit
When you first start spinning workout, many instructors will tell you to have the saddle the same height as your hip, and that will be about right, or they might say put your heel on the middle of the pedal, and if your leg is straight your in the right place. This is a good place to start, and for spinning once or twice a week, it will be fine if you spin every day though you might find that you will begin to get pain in your knee joints or pressure on the lower back. One of the most common indoor cycling mistakes to avoid and one of the main reasons to indoor cycling injuries are due to poor spin bike fit, so how do you go about fixing this?
Get a bike fit
Most indoor cycling classes you might go to will not have an instructor who knows how to bike fit. As a spinning instructor myself, the fit is heavily overlooked when you do the course. If you are not in the correct position, you are not practicing proper form while cycling. A bike fitter will be able to help you. I would highly recommend contacting a fitter and letting them get you in the correct position and for them to advise you where your saddle and handlebars should be.
Do your own bike fit
If you can’t find anyone to do your fit or it might not be in your budget to hire a fitter, I would recommend looking on Youtube at some videos about getting your fit correct. You will need to allow for a couple of hours and be prepared to be constantly getting on and off the bike, making minor adjustments.
A great tip is to film yourself and make sure it looks correct. Having someone with you to go through the process will help. It might be worth getting a friend who is also an indoor cyclist and doing a DIY spin bike setup for each other. It won’t be perfect, but it will help.
Stretch After Cycling Indoors
So you have just had a great indoor cycling workout, you have cleaned your indoor bike down, and now all you can think about is food or a shower. Stop right there. Let’s have a stretch first. Stretching is a fantastic tool for injury prevention and will work wonders for your mobility. The more mobility your body has, the less chance of injury you will have. Top athletes all recommend stretching to prevent injuries, and here are some of our favorite stretches.
- Standing Hamstring String
- Quad Stretch
- Standing Figure Four Stretch
- Childs Pose
- Knee to Chest Stretch
These are a few stretches I would focus on. Feel free to add any upper body stretches too. Try not to pull anything too tight just let the body sink into where it needs to be and progress your move gradually.
Rest After a Cycling Session
I know this probably goes without saying, but many cyclists tend not to rest much. Cycling is a low impact sport and can be done a lot. Overuse injuries can be an issue though, putting too much pressure on any part of the body too much and it will eventually cry out and want you to stop.
If you want to progress and improve your fitness while getting all the health benefits of a spin class, you will need to allow time to rest and not cycle every day. Advanced riders stay injury free and avoid seeing a physical therapist purely from taking the time to recover. A couple of examples of indoor cycling injuries from doing too much are.
Low back pain
Many riders lean forward and have a slight bend in the back for prolonged periods causing the core muscles to weaken and you to get lower back pain.
A pain in the rear
Many cyclists struggle if they do too much indoor cycling with pain in their behind. Even with padded cycling shorts, your body needs time to adjust and recover.
Tight Hip Flexors
It’s very common when cycling too much to end up with tight hips. Cycling does put us in a strange position that can close up the hips. Doing mobility work and resting will help avoid your hips getting too tight and causing injuries.
Nutrition and Diet
We can train as much as we want and as hard as we wish to but ultimately, to make the best progress, the diet you eat has to be reasonably good. Eating enough calories to power your indoor cycling workout and also enough protein to aid your body in its recovery will go a long way.
If you don’t give the body the nutrients, it needs to recover. You’re getting on the bike in a weakened state. Although there’s a good chance you will be ok. Unfortunately, there’s more chance of your body not performing to its optimum, and you risk getting an indoor cycling injury.
Injuries do happen, and it’s essential to make time for your injury prevention for any sport. Following these five simple tips, you will maximize your chance of staying free from injuries, and your whole body will thank you for it. Don’t forget that for your body to function efficiently, you need to stay hydrated while cycling indoors.
A Few Indoor Cycling FAQs
Proper form is cycling correctly and having the correct position on the bike. You can achieve this by setting up your bike properly and bringing improvements where needed when cycling at home.
I’d start by checking your fit, making sure the cycling classes are not too hard for your current level, and making sure you have a good instructor that isn’t pushing you too much.
The Peloton bike is a fantastic spinning bike, but it shares the same indoor cycling injuries risk as any other indoor cycle. So, yes it is possible to get injuries from a Peloton bike if the bike is not set up correctly or you don’t have proper form or indoor cycling clothing.
People tend to think indoor cycling will be injury free, but you have to treat it like any other sport and make sure you’re doing it correctly and keeping the correct resistance setting, wear proper indoor cycling shoes and apparel.