Please upgrade your internet browser.

Our website was designed for a range of browsers. However, if you would like to use many of our latest and greatest features, please upgrade to a modern, fully supported browser.

Find the latest versions of our supported browsers.

You can also install Google Chrome Frame to better experience this site.

Spin Class and Back Pain

Spin class has been one of the most popular types of exercise over the past year or so. In just about every city, you can find a gym that offers a spin class.

There are certainly several benefits to spin class. It’s a low-impact form of exercise, which can be very helpful if you have back pain or joint problems because there won’t be as much impact on the spine and joints. However, if you struggle with back pain or find you have back pain after spin class is over, you might need to make some adjustments to participate comfortably.

Here are some of the ways you can reduce back pain during spin class:

1. Adjust your seat positioning.

Spin bikes have adjustable seats, and it’s important to get the positioning just right for you. If you cycle in the wrong position, you could end up with pain in your back and other areas of your body. Make sure to get to the class early so you have time to adjust your seat. To determine the proper seat positioning, clip your feet into the pedals and rotate the pedals until one of your feet reaches the lowest point in the pedal rotation. Your leg should still have a slight bend at the knee, even with the foot in this position. Another good rule of thumb is to stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so that it is at hip height.

The forward-backward positioning of the seat can also be adjusted. This helps to ensure that your knees will stay in proper alignment relative to your foot positioning. When your feet are clipped into the pedals, rotate the pedals so that one foot is forward. In this position, your kneecap should be directly over the center of the pedal. If it isn’t, adjust the positioning of the seat accordingly.

2. Raise the handlebars slightly.

The handlebar height is really a matter of comfort, but in general, people with back pain tend to fare better when the handlebars are positioned a little higher. This eliminates excess strain on the neck and back. This may also be helpful if you are new to cycling, because most experienced spinners position the handlebars as much as 10 centimeters below the seat height. However, you need to develop the right core strength to be able keep proper positioning with the handle that low.

Also, remember that the handlebars are just there for balance. You shouldn’t be leaning forward and putting all your weight there, or you could strain your wrists. Try to distribute some of the weight to your legs and hips.

3. Have someone check your positioning.

You may be riding incorrectly without even knowing it. Ask your instructor to check your positioning when you are riding to make sure you are doing everything correctly. Or, if you are cycling in front of a mirror, pay attention to your movements. Not only could an incorrect position cause you back pain, it could also make the exercise less effective. If those movements go uncorrected, it could become habitual.

Sometimes your knees bow outward, or your body tends to tilt or sway to one side more than the other while you are cycling. You may think that this just affects your hips and knees, but it can actually be a problem for your back, too. When the rest of your body isn’t moving correctly, your spine, particularly in your lower back, ends up compensating for it.

4. Stretch if your back starts to feel stiff.

Try to bend your back backwards after the ride. If it feels a little stiff, repeat the motion 10-15 more times to help alleviate the stiffness. The bike positioning lends itself to slouching, which can result in more back pain and stiffness. While you’re riding, you can also do an anterior pelvic tilt to help correct some of the stiffness caused by slouching. To do this, push your belly button forward to make a hollow in your lower back. Hold for a few seconds, and release. Do about 15-20 repetitions of this move.

If you walk out of spin class with back pain, give these tips a try. Spin class can be a great workout, but if it leaves you with back pain even with these modifications, it might be best to find a new type of workout. It’s all about finding what works best for your body.