Recently, a patient came to me regarding knee pain. She is an avid spinner, so she asked if the knee pain could be the result. My knowledge of spinning or cycling is limited, but one thing I know is that the set-up of a bike must be appropriate for each person, otherwise no treatment will help in the long run. My friends Clair and Ursula from C.O.R.E cycling know plenty about cycling and spinning. Here are a few tips from them.
Correct bike fit, is the single most important element of a successful and injury free spin class for today and for the rest of your cycling days – which will be many – if you know how to set yourself up.
As a general guideline, adjust the saddle so that it’s at hip height. This is just an approximation. Sitting on the bike is where we get accurate. Rotate one pedal (flat foot) all the way down to the bottom of the pedal stroke (with hands on handlebars), you should have only about a 25 degree bend at the knee. It’s not that much. If in doubt, adjust your saddle a little higher, pedal a few rotations and notice if your hips rock back and forth. If so, you’re too high, drop the saddle (just a little) until the hips stabilize. Riding with a saddle that’s too high may result in pain in the hip and/or lower back as well as behind the knee. If the saddle is too low, the resulting pain is in the front of the knee caused from excessive forward torque.
This measurement relates to how close or how far the saddle is to the handlebars. It’s all about your knee. Rotate one pedal to 3:00 (if your full pedal stroke were a clock face), so that both crank arms are parallel to the ground. Ensure that your foot is flat. Imagine a plumb line inserted at the patellar tendon (or the small indent just below the knee cap) would fall at the pedal axle (where the pedal and the crank arm meet). If your knee is ahead of the pedal axle, you will exert too much pressure on the knee, leading to pain in the front of the knee. If the knee is behind the pedal axle, hip, lower back or behind the knee pain could result from over-reaching during the pedal rotation.
Important Note: If you’ve made adjustments to either saddle height or saddle fore/aft, you will need to re-check the former. In other words, by either dropping the saddle down or moving the saddle forward, you have shortened the reach for the pedal. Conversely by raising the saddle or moving it back, you have lengthened the reach for the pedal.
Handlebar Height:Handlebars should be raised until a soft bend in the elbow is achieved. This ensures that the rider isn’t putting too much pressure on the trapezius. New riders or participants with back issues should have their bars raised until they are comfortable and not putting pressure on the hands. Many of the newer spin bikes have cockpits with both height and fore/aft adjustments for better upper body positioning.
Saddle Tilt: Ever feel like you’re sliding forward on that saddle? Hands numb from the pressure of holding yourself up? This is a result of your saddle tilt. Most female riders will want a saddle with a very slight upward tilt at the nose, (too much and perineal pressure will be excruciating.) New (female) participants will feel much better on a saddle with a bit of an upward tilt. Speak to your bike mechanic about changing the angle of the nose to tilt up ever so slightly.
Think just one class with a bad set up won’t make a difference? Think again. Each 60 minute spin class has you rotating one leg (an average of) 5,000 times!
C.O.R.E Cycling Indoor Cycling Instructor Certification http://www.corecycling.ca