Studio Cycling (SS3091) : Blended Learning : Learn as you live!
Injury Prevention Instructional Skills: Body Positions when Studio Cycling
NCEF studio/indoor cycling instructors becoming familiar with the common types of cycling injuries can help participants avoid some common aches and pains. Neck and back aches are the most typical cycling injuries (Mellion, 1991). Shoulder pain, hand numbness and knee injuries are also commonplace (Gregor & Wheeler, 1994; Mellion, 1991).
Encourage participants to maintain good alignment from the tip of the head to the hips so that head, neck and spine are in as neutral a position as possible – flexion coming from the hips and natural curves of spine maintained. Shoulders should be relaxed, back and down allowing the chest to be open. Wrists should be straight with hands relaxed and resting lightly on handlebars. Ensure that participant’s handlebars are not too low. Participants tend to place too much weight on hands, arms and shoulders when handlebars are too low and this can cause tingling and numbness in the hands, aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome and lead to shoulder pain especially for beginner cyclists (IDEA Health & Fitness, 2001).
Advise participants to imagine scraping mud off their feet as they pedal in circles (Kostman, 2006). This facilitates a small, natural flexion of the ankle while pedalling. The foot stays close to parallel to the floor almost always while pedalling. Pointing feet down may cause cramps in the calves. Never pedal backwards.
Knees should point forward at all times and move in straight lines up and down above the toes, like pistons (Kostman, 2006). Legs should work full circle throughout the entire pedal stroke. As one leg is pushing down the opposite leg is lifting up to help improve efficient pedal action. The saddle height should be set so that there is a slight bend in the knee when the foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke (6 o’clock). The bike saddle should be forward enough so that the knee when flexed is over the centre of the pedal (Knee over pedal spindle = KOPS).
Improper bike set up and cycling form can lead to tendons and ligaments being strained, pulled or tight.
A common cycling injury is patellar tendinitis – chronic inflammation of the tendons that connects the patella to the tibia. Always maintain resistance when cycling as excess speed without resistance can initiate or exacerbate knee problems as the momentum of the flywheel moves the pedals and the legs are pulled around with it. Never pedal backwards as this will cause knee injuries also.
During seated flat road and seated climb the bottom should be fully on the saddle. During standing climb the bottom and hips should stay over the seat at all times. The bottom should tap the saddle at the lowest point of each pedal stroke. Hips should remain still – avoid swaying side to side.
Guidelines for Injury Prevention and Client Care
The general rule is “if you wouldn’t do it on a real bike then don’t do it in a studio/cycling class.” (www.spinning.com ) The following are moves/techniques that should not be in studio cycling classes for safety reasons.
1. Push ups on the bike – focus is taken away from correct pedal stroke and maintaining a strong core and participants may lose balance and fall off of the bike.
2. Figure 8s – participants may be thrown off balance and fall off of the bike and the lower back may be injured by the twisting movement.
3. One hand/No hands when cycling – participant is unable to maintain good form, may slip/compromise balance and injury themselves.
4. Holding horns of bike while seated – in this position there is excessive forward flexion of the upper body, the amount of oxygen that can be taken in per breath is reduced and good posture cannot be maintained.
5. Isolations/freezes – compromise knees and lower back similar to cycling with too low a saddle.
6. Squats -
7. Hovers – creates excessive tension in the knee, back neck and shoulders and does not allow for proper alignment and cycling technique
8. Pedalling backwards -
9. Stretching lower body muscles on the bike – risk of falling is high!