Stationary bike workout needs to be done wiselyIndoor spinning is all the rage.
By: Dee Depass, Star Tribune, INFORUM
Indoor spinning is all the rage. Just look at the 1,052 Minnesotans who broke the Guinness World Record recently as part of Life Time Fitness’ “Ride of a Lifetime” challenge at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The company hauled in 20 truckloads of stationary bikes for a raucous good time.
“I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the crowd. A two-hour spinning class is a long class, and they really kept the energy up,” said Life Time spokesman Kent Wipf. “It was crazy.”
For some riders, it was their first time on an indoor bike. “Each (brand of) bike has its own nuances,” so participants wanted help adjusting their bike to their bodies, said Kimberly Spreen, Life Time’s national director of group fitness. Fit is critical with spinning, and knee trouble is common among novices who neglect to adjust their seats properly. A poorly fitted stationary bike may or may not hurt you during class; it can take a day or so before joints really yowl.
“If they find that their knees hurt more in the front of their knees, then it’s a good chance that their seat is either too low or too far forward. Or if they have pain in the back of the knee, then it’s the opposite – their seat is too high or too far back. They are having to reach way too far forward, so there is a lot of overextension of the hamstring,” explained Rosie Ward, who trains spin instructors for the National Exercise Trainers Association. With a proper fit, “most people should be able to ride without pain.”
Most well-trained instructors, including those in Fargo-Moorhead, will start each class by helping newcomers get properly fitted. If yours doesn’t, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
So, what are the ABCs of cycling? First, bring water and a towel, because you will sweat. Then follow these rules:
- Before hopping on, stand beside your bike. Set the seat’s height so it reaches the top of your hip ball joint. Take a seat.
- Pedal with your foot parallel to the floor. “Women, don’t jam your foot all the way into the shoe stirrups,” Ward warns. Instead, make sure the widest part of your foot rests over that pedal spindle.
- Pedal slowly. Even during the downstroke, your leg stays bent at a 25- to 35-degree angle. Use a goniometer device to help ensure accuracy. (Check out www.bikefit.com/docs/Goniometer.pdf.)
- During the upstroke, your kneecap should be right over your shoelaces, not your toes. Imagine a string dangling from your knee to your foot. Where does the string fall? If it’s not right over your shoelaces, move your seat forward or back.
- Make changes gradually if you’ve been riding for ages at the wrong settings so muscles and bones can ease into the change.
- Pedal. Don’t let your knees splay out. If you’re bowlegged, pull your knees together until they’re in line with your hips. Recheck frequently.
When we tire, our legs get sloppy. A wrong knee angle paired with cranked-up resistance can cause unnecessary wear on cartilage.
These rules can keep you safe from injury. Listen to your body. If your knee or hip hurts, back off, slow down and recheck your fit. And don’t be afraid to take a few weeks off if your knees start fussing. I was alarmed to hear two cyclists recently talk about “bearing through the pain” while staying committed to three or four classes a week. Stop. Go see a doctor or a physical therapist. Come back when you’re healthy.
Cycling is a fabulous, low-impact, high-intensity workout that gobbles up calories. (My new heart-rate and calorie monitor told me I burned about 457 calories in a 65-minute class.)
So make sure it stays fun, effective and safe – until spring trails beckon us outside.