Avoiding Neck and Back Pain While Spinning

Avoiding Neck and Back Pain While Spinning
Usker Naqvi M.D. M.S.
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World Bicycle Day is June 3rd. To celebrate, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give you some tips on one popular way that people get the benefits of cycling - Spin Class. Here are some 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. Spin cycling is great exercise, and starting out with a low-impact ride will allow you to soon increase your time and intensity while you ride. I find I am very competitive with myself and like to try to outperform my personal best each time I get on my bike. Just remember, before beginning any new exercise routine, including spinning, be sure to consult your physician.

Riding Posture

One of the great things about cycling is that it provides a low impact way to get in some cardio. However, I want to make sure you 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 help you fit your bike to your body:

· Seat height - 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 handle bars 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 to help avoid neck and back pain

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 a flat terrain with no hills are great for riders of all levels. They are easier on your body and tend to be smoother and less stressful on your body, especially your neck and back.

· The time 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? A question I often get from my patients. 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.

Spin classes and Peloton have become a very popular form of exercise. You can get in a great workout, keep motivated, and even get competitive with yourself during your ride. However, listening to your body is key. 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 if you begin to experience back or neck pain. 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.

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