Workouts Gone Wrong: Ways to Injury-Proof Your Sweat Sessions
Active Threat: Knee and pelvic pain
Because it's low impact, indoor cycling is one workout that rarely sends patients limping into doctors' offices. The main danger is a knee injury; this type of cycling triples the risk of suffering one, a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found. Knee joints repeatedly flex and extend during pedaling. If a kneecap doesn't track just right in its groove, patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner's knee, can occur, explains Edward Laskowski, MD, the codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minnesota. "But as long as you set up your bike in the right position, you should stay pain-free," he says.
That's advice Jacqueline Farrell Fish, 40, of Washington Township, New Jersey, wishes she had gotten. She furiously pedaled through an entire class with her seat too high -- and tore her quads. "It took almost a year for them to heal completely," she says.
Errors in saddling up can also strain your back, neck, and shoulder muscles, and even your pelvis. If your handlebars are too low, your pelvis is forced to tilt toward the seat, resulting in pain and even numbness, a recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found.
Workout Rescue: Follow this bike setup advice from Lauren Bruker, an indoor-cycling instructor for SoulCycle in New York City.
- Stand alongside the bike, facing the handlebars, and raise your knee 90 degrees. The seat height should be level with the spot where your thigh meets your hip.
- Adjust the distance from the front tip of the seat to the handlebars so that it's the length of your forearm.
- Set the handlebars level with the seat.
- Get on and start pedaling slowly. Any soreness in your back or knees is a sign that you need to readjust.
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