Top 3 Habits New Indoor Cyclists Should Start Doing Today to Avoid Cycling Hip Pain
Indoor cycling, commonly referred to as spinning, is one of the top fitness trends these days. Over 34.7 million people consider it part of their regular cardio routine, and its popularity has only grown in recent years. While indoor cycling is a safe, low-impact form of exercise, there are a few helpful habits newcomers should consider before starting a new routine. You’re ready for a new year, new you, but your muscles might need some reminding!
Basics of indoor cycling
As exhilarating as they are challenging, indoor cycling classes benefit the body even more than bicycling, according to a 2017 study. These benefits include building strength, improved cardiovascular health, and of course, weight loss through burning calories.
In addition to the above, indoor cycling also targets all the major muscle groups, making it a true full-body exercise.
- Core muscles: Used to keep your torso upright during cycling.
- Upper body: Supporting yourself as you lean against the handlebars.
- Back: Stabilizes and supports you during workouts.
- Glutes: Part of the pedaling process, especially if you incorporate standing periods on your bike with increased resistance.
- Quadriceps: A major mover in the pedaling cycle.
- Lower legs: That extra, final push while you pedal
- Hamstrings: Move the pedals behind you every time you move around.
- Hip flexors: Lift the pedals to the top every time you move around.
Indoor cycling training plan for beginners
As daunting as it may seem, getting started with an indoor cycling training plan is surprisingly easy for beginners. Because the exercise is so convenient, people find it’s easy to work in a quick spin over lunch or on the way home from the office.
The most crucial step to consider if you're new to indoor cycling training is to assess your fitness level with a Function Threshold Power (FTP) test. This is a simple way to tell how well your physiology responds to exercise so you can scale your workouts to meet your needs.
Practical indoor cycling goals to structure your workouts around and help you get into a routine include:
- 20-minute rides, three times a week
- Train for a couch to 30 miles in 8 weeks cycle for an average of 25 miles a week
- Enhance muscle endurance with twice a week strength sessions
Habits beginner indoor cyclists should start today
1. Stretch before & after workouts
Stretching increases blood flow and is an excellent warm-up aid for quads, shoulders, neck, hips, and related muscles.
If you’re in a spin class, expect the trainer to lead you through a series of warm-up exercises to prevent muscle injury and increase performance. If you’re indoor cycling on your own, spend a few minutes on the mat getting your muscles ready to go.
The post-workout feeling of warm and loose muscles may be followed by tense and achy muscles. For this reason, you’ll want to consider ending your workout with another brief stretching session. Not only does it improve flexibility and overall athleticism, but it also aids in mobility, helping you move with ease, and it can prevent soreness.
The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy led a study that shows stretching after a workout widens your range of motion. A five to ten-minute session of stretching after a class should include the following:
- Forward fold (targets the back of the legs)
- Hamstring stretch
- Quad stretch
- Calf stretch
- Banana stretch (targets the side of the body)
- Tip-over tuck (targets the hamstrings and shoulders)
2. Maintain good posture
Sitting on a bicycle isn't exactly natural. From the bent-forward position your torso and hips adapt to the upright angle you’ll hold your neck in, even a short cycling session can cause tight muscles in odd places. Fortunately, with a little patience and attention to your posture, you can minimize the risk of injury.
For a low-impact cardiovascular workout emphasizing body alignment and postural awareness, be sure to ask your instructor for tips on proper form. This includes pulling your core muscles in, elongating the torso, and adjusting the seat so the pedals are at the right height.
More tips to keep good cycling posture:
- Keep your back flat and chest up
- Keep your weight back and off the handlebars
- Keep your weight on the pedals
- Keep your feet flat
- Add enough resistance to prevent bouncing in the saddle
- Use your abdominal muscles to hold up your lower back
- Focus on your spine shape and keep a neutral shape
3. Release tight muscles
Muscles don't like to work when they are short. When you’re cycling, you’re bent at the hip, moving your legs up and down, forcing your hip flexors to work while compressed. The more you cycle, the more you upset those hip flexors, causing all kinds of posture issues and muscles knots. If you don’t keep that tension at a minimum, you could experience back pain, sciatica, leg pain, and other issues, even when you haven’t touched a bike all day.
Stretching and massage can temporarily relieve tense muscles. They aren’t permanent solutions, however, as they can’t release tightness or relieve muscle knots on their own. In fact, rubbing and massage can actually make certain conditions worse.
The only way to release muscles is to apply deep, direct, constant pressure at just the right angle. The Hip Hook is a great tool to release hip flexors like the iliopsoas, a muscle group that’s particularly hard-hit by cycling routines. Additionally, the Nuckle can help relieve tense shoulder, chest, and neck muscles that tighten up due to the awkward forward position we’re in when cycling.
By releasing your muscles on a regular basis, you can ensure that every activity you do throughout the day – from cycling to driving – can be done without pain or impaired movement. It’s arguably the single best habit you can adopt to improve your indoor cycling sessions.