For the media

3 tips for safe at-home cycling

By The Health News Team | December 11, 2020
Stationary bike

In lieu of in-person fitness and spin classes, many people have invested in their own at-home workout bikes. Stationary bikes are a great way to stay in shape at home, but without an instructor present, it can be easy to injure yourself if you don’t use them properly.
Jenna Ford, DPT, CSRS, is a physical therapist with Sharp Coronado Hospital. She shares these three tips for safe at-home cycling.

  1. Check your stance
    “When cycling, you want to ensure proper positioning to avoid any injuries. Before getting on the bike, make sure the seat is at an appropriate height,” says Ford.
    To properly position your seat, stand next to the bike and line the seat up with the top of your hip bone. When you are sitting on the bike, the leg in the 6 o’clock position (straight down) should have a slightly bent knee with the foot in neutral. The leg in the 3 o’clock position should have the knee over the foot.
    You should also make sure your handlebars are the right distance from your seat. Ford says that the distance should be about the length of your forearm. With your elbow against the front of the seat, your fingertips should touch the handlebar.

  2. Watch your posture
    “Posture is important when riding,” says Ford. “Make sure you are seated in the widest part of the saddle. Elbows should be slightly bent at the handlebars. The handlebars are there mostly for balance. You should not have a death grip on the bars.”
    It’s also important to relax your muscles during your ride and always make sure you have a straight back.
    “Get your shoulders out of your ears. Whether you are in or out of the saddle, always make sure your shoulders are relaxed and down,” says Ford.
    Proper posture can prevent strain on your neck, shoulders and back while riding.

  3. Pace yourself
    Without an instructor in front of you, it can be easy to move too quickly. To avoid strain or injury, it’s best to pace yourself.
    “Listen to your body. Do what feels right to you on that day. If the resistance number they are giving is too heavy for you, scale it back. If you can’t reach the cadence they are suggesting, that’s OK. The classes are meant to guide you throughout your workout, but it should be done at a level that is manageable for you,” says Ford.
    At the same time, you want to make sure you get enough out of your workout. You can track yourself by monitoring your heart rate. Here’s how:
    •  First, find your resting heart rate by counting your pulse — inside of your wrist on the thumb side — for one minute. That is your resting heart rate.
    •  You can then find your max heart rate. A quick and easy way to do this is subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 32, your max heart rate would be 220 minus 32, which is 188 beats per minute (bpm).
    “If you are new to Peloton or other cycling devices, take it slow to start. Like any other sport, progress comes with practice” says Ford.

Before starting any at-home workout, always consult with your doctor if you have any heart or other health concerns.

If you are looking for other at-home ways to stay in shape, the
Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital offers virtual fitness classes via Zoom. To learn more, visit the Mindbody app or call 619-522-3798.

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