Pelotons are a passion for many – including me. I know many people who eat, breathe, and sleep Peloton every day, but with my busy schedule, I goal to get on the bike at least 3-4 days a week – especially this time of year when it’s harder to ride outside.
I’m not alone. Lots of us are jumping on this home fitness craze – especially during the pandemic – and fitness benefits abound with this form of exercise. But as a spine surgeon, I can also tell you it’s important to protect your back when you’re on the bike, especially because back pain in general is one of the most common medical problems – affecting 80% of Americans in some point in their life.
Let’s talk about it.
Let’s start with all the reasons Pelotons are a great exercise option. Fitness benefits abound whether you’re starting your morning off with Jess Sims, pushing yourself with Alex Toussaint, building up endurance with a high-energy class with Cody Rigsby, or getting in a low-impact ride with Emma Lovewell. As I told Men’s Health – Adrian Williams is another one of my favorites because he puts so much focus on strengthening your core muscles. Although beware – his classes are hard.
Even if you start small with one to two rides a week on your spin bike, you’ll soon be craving more and striving for personal bests with each ride. After lots of rides or a particularly challenging workout – upper and lower back pain and neck pain can be an unwelcome side effects. So here are some tips for avoiding back pain while on your Peloton, so that you can keep your momentum going, create a great fitness routine for yourself and keep getting ‘back’ on your bike day after day in peak form.
Fit your bike. It’s worth taking the time to invest in this. That includes looking at the handlebar and seat height, seat distance to the handlebar, and how to avoid hunching. Here’s a YouTube video I did on how to best set up your bike for optimal spine health.
Stretch first. Once you have the bike fitted, you’ll want to make sure to stretch before getting on to ride. Just like before any sport, stretching is essential to warm up your body and muscles. Without stretching you could cause a number of injuries to your body, and possibly end up with a more extensive injury that would prevent you from riding for a long period of time. Some of the best stretches you can do before getting on your spin bike are:
Not all rides are created equal, and not all instructors are the same. Choosing the best instructor for you is a personal preference, but when it comes to choosing a ride there are a few factors to take into consideration — especially if you already have back pain, or are prone to back pain or injuries.
Fitting your bike correctly will definitely help avoid any pain that an improper fit might have caused, but fitting by itself isn’t the only way to avoid any pain. You need to make sure you keep the correct posture and form while on your ride. There are a number of instructors that will remind you of your posture and form during a ride, but here are some factors to keep in mind while on any ride you take:
There’s a reason why Peloton, and spin cycling in general, has become such a popular form of exercise. You can get in a great structured workout while having a competitive and motivational side to it. But just remember, introducing a new fitness routine or increasing your fitness routine can come with negative effects if not done properly. When getting on your spin bike for a ride, make sure you focus on what your body is telling you. Don’t push yourself too far, because too far can lead to injury — with back pain being the number one cause of improper cycling. If you find yourself with back pain, please reach out to schedule a consultation. Through the right treatment plan, we can get you back on your bike in no time!
And last by certainly not least – Listen to your Body. While all of the rides offered by instructors and classes are safe, make sure you listen to your body. Exercising can leave your muscles sore, but aches and pains are your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. If you still have pain a few days after resting, it’s time to consult a doctor.
Dr. Colin Haines is a board-certified spine surgeon and the Director of Research at Virginia Spine Institute. Dr. Haines performed the world’s first combined endoscopic and robot-guided spine surgery. His patient success has earned him a national feature on The Today Show and WebMD, and Top Doctor recognition in consecutive years. Learn more about Dr. Haines.
Reviewed by: Dr. Colin Haines, MD.
Reviewed by: Dr. Colin Haines, MD.