I often get approached by participants who may have been riding for a long time but start to experience pain in their knees, back, shoulders or elsewhere. Sometimes the conversations start with a casual chat before class but eventually the conversation comes around to proper bike step up.
I make a point within my classes to discuss bike set up and its importance to ensuring proper biomechanics and preventing injury. As an instructor it is important to keep an eye on participant set up and correct a rider’s position in a positive manner so that riders stay safe and comfortable. Beyond correcting participant’s bike set up it is equally important to educate participants as to why bike set up is important. Many participants don’t think about the set up of their bike. Often they will come into class and set the saddle height to the first position where they can reach the pedals, or worse not change it at all choosing to ride with however the bike was set up for the previous participants. Always approach new participants, and offer to help them set the bike up to ensure proper biomechanics, and so the rider is safe and comfortable.
Gaining a participant’s trust, establishing and encouraging an open line of conversation will make them more likely to approach you when they are experiencing discomfort. Only the other day a casual conversation with a rider prior to class, led to mention of a slight pain in their knee. The participant was considering not riding for a while. A quick look at their pedal technique revealed that a small outward cleat adjustment would better align their knees over their feet. Result, the participant’s knee pain disappeared.
One way to encourage a check of bike set up is to offer this service to participants at the beginning of a class. Approach this as offering a free service. Everyone like to get something for free! One tool I keep in my class kit is a key chain on a string. Occasionally I walk around and offer to check bike set up or use it to check my own set up, which always raises curiosity. Usually once one person gets checked, not wanting to miss out, everyone else starts asking to be checked. This is also a great time to educate participants on the importance of correct alignment.
Spinning® Instructor Orientation discusses the correct procedure to set someone up on the bike so I won’t elaborate on it here but rather stress the importance that set up is not necessarily a one-time event. For a guide to bike set up refer to this training tips handout.
Changes in equipment, including bike, clothing, shoes or accessories are times when bike step up should be revisited. Any time discomfort is experienced is another time bike set up should be checked. Considering in the average class you can turn the pedals 6,000 times, bike set up is critical to the participant’s longevity in the program.