Cycling to recovery: Part 2

Image: edgecycle.co.uk

Read Cycling to recovery: Part 1 here.

Ten weeks, lots of physio exercises and a few tentative runs later, I was feeling significantly better than I had been when I first bombed out of marathon training. My dodgy tib post (the muscle which runs down the inside of the calf and ankle) was gradually strengthening up and my ITB syndrome had almost disappeared. Spinning was doing a great job of keeping me in check – I was hitting the studio at least three times a week to cycle solo as well as doing fitness classes and strength training.

Thing is, I’d never really had a proper intro to spinning technique or bike set-up. My first ever class mostly involved having my resistance turned up impossibly high by a shouty instructor while I sulked and cursed my feeble quads. Since then I’d more or less blagged my way through - alright for my ego, but potentially dangerous given my precarious state of injury. Luckily, there was a solution that didn’t involve me losing my gym street cred.

Edge Cycle is a dedicated indoor cycling studio based in Holborn which runs free Learn To Ride classes in addition to its regular timetable. Each 15-minute session is designed to help newcomers (and clueless regulars like myself) get to grips with the bikes and kit. This was the perfect opportunity for me to escape the trial and error corner I’d backed myself into with my technique.

Instructor Ruth showed me and two others how to correctly adjust the bike seat and handlebars for our height, before giving us a thorough intro to the correct form for seated and standing spinning - read how to set up your bike correctly and check your spinning form here.

Turns out I needed some major corrections on my form - I shifted from side to side while cycling, which suggests a “combination of weak glutes, lack of control through the abdominals and needing to be coached on pedal stroke,” Ruth told me.

“Other things to watch out for are knee misalignment (you want to track straight up and down), toes pointing (which is quad heavy) and little hamstring engagement (I find it helpful to think about pressing the heel down at the bottom of the stroke at 6 o'clock or keeping the feet flat to the floor the whole time).”

Fully prepped, I took on a class with instructor Jamie, who assured me that it would fit in with my recovery aims and injury restrictions: “Spinning makes a good form of alternative workout for runners, as it helps increase leg endurance as well as cardio fitness. It’s also a great choice for rehabilitation from foot and ankle injuries, especially plantar fasciitis as the cleats [specialist cycling shoes] help take the pressure off the foot arch.”

Being aware of which muscles I needed to focus on throughout the class made a massive difference to the workout – my core and glutes were far more engaged, making my posture stronger and the entire session more effective in terms of cardio effort. My physio exercises required me to significantly up my glute strength in order to control my running stride, so this newly controlled spinning technique was the perfect step towards getting back to running.

Next time: Georgia mixes up her training with a Psycle class.