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Dealing with Wrist or Shoulder Pain in Spin Class

indoor cycling class

If you take a spin class and you find yourself with sore wrists or shoulders during or afterwards, the first thing to think about is exactly what kind of spin class are you taking? Most modern spin classes involve much more than just cycling-they incorporate all sorts of upper body work, such as repetitive lifting and even punching with weights, push-ups, and crunches on the bike. For people who already have a shoulder or wrist condition/injury to begin with, these movements may add to increased pain. What’s more, most of us do have a shoulder or wrist issue because of the way we sit all day. Think about this-you spend all day sitting hunched over your computer. Then you head to a spin class where you hunch over your bike. Then you add weights to that, and follow the instructor through all sorts of extreme, shoulder impingement-inducing movements. Add to that the momentum of the bike and the excitement of the class, and you end up with poor form, which could lead to pain and even injury.

The second thing to think about is where is the pain coming from during the class? Do you feel it when you lift the weights over your head, or while doing a push-up? Or are you having pain while you’re spinning? If it’s during the upper body exercises, the solution is simple-don’t do them. Don’t do something that causes you pain just because the instructor is doing it. Feel free to opt out of that part and just continue to spin. I know many people don’t like to do that because they’re afraid that it looks like they aren’t working as hard as everyone else, but consider the risk versus the reward. There are other, safer things to do to work your upper body while you’re on solid ground, like push-ups and pull-ups.

Doing a push-up on a flat, firm surface is a much different experience for your body than trying to do one on a bike. When you try to perform a push-up on a bike, first of all you’re only using a percentage of your body weight. Secondly, you aren’t in the correct anatomical position. Think about how your spine is curved as you perform a push-up on a bike, versus performing one on the ground with proper form and an engaged core, and it’s obvious which one is better for your shoulders, wrists, and back.

In my opinion, weight work should be done off of the bike as well. Your alignment is better and you can give the movements your full attention, as opposed to being in a spin class where a thousand things are happening at once-you’re biking, listening to, watching, and trying to follow the instructor, getting annoyed by the person next to you, etc.

If you find that you have pain while simply spinning, think about how your weight is distributed. If all of your weight is in your arms, then you’re not using your legs and you’re putting too much strain on your shoulders and wrists. Relax your upper body, and pull your shoulder blades down and back into your back pockets. Make sure that you’re soft on the handle bars, and wiggle your fingers periodically so that your joints don’t get too stiff.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.