How To Use Peloton Bike With Hip Pain (Explained)


Today I will explain if the peloton bike can cause hip pain, and if so, what you can do to reduce the problem.

As a whole, the peloton bike can hurt your hips, especially if your bike is set up incorrectly. Poor positioning can alter biomechanics and put excessive pressure on the hip, relative to their function. Also, people who spend too much time on the bike can overload their hips via repetitive training loads.

In other words, setting up your Peloton bike in a way that can achieve the greatest range of motion in the hip during the pedal stroke is important not only to reduce pain symptoms but also to prevent future problems.

Is Peloton Good For Hips?

I had severe hip pain in both of my hips from my early days playing rugby. In 2010, I decided to make a hip replacement, which helped a lot. However, I still remember the pain that impaired simple movements like sitting or standing, which immediately took out the joy of daily activities.

My exercise routine included a lot of low-intensity aerobic movement, as well as targeted strength training for gluteus Maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, hip rotators, and hamstrings.

In general, the peloton is good for hips, as long as you maintain optimum training load and intensity throughout the week. On the other hand, riding the bike every day at the maximum effort can aggregate discomfort (more on that later).

Peloton And Hip Pain

As a whole, using the peloton without sufficient warm-up and active stretching before the rides can cause hip problems because cycling facilitates tightness in the hip joint. However, adding simple mobility moves and bodyweight strength training exercises can help to reduce this tightness.

You need to remember that hip pain is a symptom that can affect the structure of the joint, or the structures surrounding the joint (e.g. muscles).

This means that several factors can contribute to the problem (either from the joint itself, or from elsewhere), therefore, it is impossible to recommend exercises, without seeing the PT or physician (which I strongly recommend you do).

Also, adding adequate warm-up and mobility exercises before your peloton rides will help to increase the range of motion of the hips.

The typical reason why hips hurt after using the peloton is the poor range of motion in the hips. People with hip problems often experience greater tension in the joints and muscles, which leads to biomechanical restriction and discomfort.

Can peloton damage your hips? In general, the peloton cannot damage your hips because it keeps the joint mobile which benefits overall hip function and athletic performance. However, overuse and repetitive motion during long-distance endurance rides or HIIT workouts can put extra pressure on the hips.

Here are the most common reasons why you may have hip pain while riding the peloton.

  • Tight hip flexors
  • Hip arthritis
  • Hip bursitis
  • Hip injury

Peloton and Hip Flexor Pain

Using the peloton excessively can lead to tightness of the hip flexor muscles due to ongoing and repetitive movement of the hip joint in a foward-flexed position. Also, too much tension in the hip flexor muscles can contribute to lower back pain and compromise isometric trunk strength.

NOTE: You can read more about “peloton and back pain” in my article here.

Not only that.

Studies have shown that “hip flexor problems range from 5% to 28% of injuries among high-risk sport specific groups. Although most of these injuries are successfully treated with conservative management, and high rates of return to play are observed, significant rehabilitation time can be involved” (Christopher et al. 2021).

Does peloton cause hip flexor pain? As a whole, using the peloton excessively can cause hip flexor pain. Cycling for a prolonged time requires maintaining a forward-leaning position on the bike, which can lead to tightness in the hip flexors. Adding dynamic stretching as a warm-up routine before the workout can help to reduce muscle tightness and stiffness.

However, I noticed that people don’t spend much time stretching before the rides because it can reduce overall muscle tension, and lower the performance by decreasing force production.

Here’s the good news.

Anthony D. Kay, Ph.D. from the University of Northampton in the UK has documented the effects of static stretching on performance.

The results have shown that “static stretching exercise of less than 45 s did not affect muscle strength in terms of measured peak torque” (Kay, 2012) but did improve the range of motion.

This means that doing a 5-minute peloton warm-up class, followed by 5 minutes lower body stretch routine can help to improve the hip-flexor range of motion, without compromising performance.

Which peloton classes are best for hip flexor pain?

Overall, the best peloton classes for hip flexor pain are yoga focus flow hips, glutes, and lower body. Also, other peloton classes like bodyweight strength, pilates, and lower body stretch can help to reduce muscle stiffness in iliopsoas and rectus femoris muscles.

Peloton classes that you should avoid with hip bursitis include:

  • HIIT and Tabata
  • HIIT Cardio
  • Climb rides
  • Interval rides
  • Bootcamp
  • Running

Peloton and Hip Arthritis

Overall, hip arthritis and osteoarthritis are some of the most common musculoskeletal conditions which can cause deliberating hip pain. Because no cure is currently available for osteoarthritis (apart from surgery), people are usually encouraged to self-manage their symptoms by a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and weight loss.

Does the peloton cause hip arthritis? In general, the peloton does not cause hip arthritis. In fact, according to CDC guidelines, cycling is easy and joint-friendly exercise that can reduce the arthritis symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and fatigue, as long as it’s performed at a low to moderate intensity.

This means that the peloton is good for arthritis because the bike puts minimal weight-bearing stress on the joints, reducing the risk of injury. The recommendations for low to moderate-intensity exercise for adults include at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week (source).

Dr. Mohammed Alkatan from the University of Texas at Austin has documented the impact of cycling and swimming on people with osteoarthritis.

He divided 48 sedentary middle-aged and older adults into two groups (cycling and swimming) and prescribed 45 minutes sessions, three days per week at 60-70% of maximum heart rate (equivalent to peloton heart rate zone 2 and 3).

See results below.

As you can see, the results have shown 40% reductions in joint pain, 30% reductions in joint stiffness, and 25% decrease in functional limitation after 12 weeks of supervised training.

Can Peloton Make Hip Arthritis Worse?

As a whole, the peloton can increase symptoms and make hip arthritis worse when overloaded via repetitive training loads, as well as because of the incorrect bike setup and poor position on the bike.

On the other hand, reducing training load and proper peloton seat position can lead to optimal hip mechanics and reduction in the pain symptoms.

Studies have shown that “a professional fit of the bike aims to optimize hip joint function can allow people with hip pathology to exercise in comfort when alternative high impact exercise such as running may not be possible. Conversely improper fit of the bike can lead to hip symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals who present with risk factors for hip pain” (Wadsworth, 2019).

Which Peloton Classes Are Best For Hip Arthritis

In general, the best peloton bike classes to reduce hip arthritis symptoms include low-impact rides, recovery rides, and power zone endurance rides. Also, other peloton classes like yoga, walking, and stretching can help to strengthen the hip and reduce muscle stiffness.

For example, peloton lower body strength classes are a great way to address muscle weakness, whereas the peloton yoga hip opener classes can reduce muscle tightness, as well as help to release the muscular trigger points.

Peloton classes that you should avoid with hip arthritis include:

  • HIIT and Tabata
  • HIIT Cardio
  • Running

Peloton and Hip Bursitis

As a whole, hip bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a gliding surface between the bones and helps to cushion your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Inflammation to the bursa can be due to repetitive training (e.g. running) with excessive stress on the hip, rheumatoid arthritis, or spinal problems (e.g. scoliosis).

Does the peloton cause hip bursitis? Overall, the peloton can lead to hip bursitis, especially when the length or intensity of the rides increases suddenly. Also, riding the bike in the bend-over position for an extensive time places most of the weight directly onto the hip, which can aggregate the pain.

In other words, the pain may get worse with prolonged exercise and overtraining.

However, the peloton workouts that strengthen the quadriceps, gluteus medius, and minimus can reduce the symptoms. Also, stretching the ischial tibial band, as well as using the correct form of the exercises is important.

A fascinating study was done by Jan D. Rompe, MD from the OrthoTrauma Evaluation Center in Mainz, Germany has documented the efficacy of home-based exercises on 76 people with greater trochanter pain syndrome (GTPS) using the 6-point Likert scale.

What is the 6-point Likert scale? As a whole, the 6-point Likert scale is a way to assess results from research using questionnaires. The scale goes from 1 to 6, where 6 is being extremely dissatisfied, and the one is being extremely satisfied.

In other words, it’s a way to measure the perception of the results of the given treatment (e.g. pain release) that is subjective and hard to quantify.

6-point Likert scaleDescription
1Extremely satisfied
2Very satisfied
3Somewhat satisfied
4Somewhat dissatisfied
5Very dissatisfied
6Extremely dissatisfied
6-point Likert scale

The training protocol was simple. It included piriformis and ITB stretching, gluteal strengthening exercises, straight leg raises, and assisted squats.

See results below.

As you can see, the results have shown minimal results within the first four months after the baseline (41% success rate with 5.2 points). However, after the follow-up on the month fifteenth, the home-based training reached an 80% success rate with an average of 2.7 points, which was better than corticosteroid injection (48% success rate with 5.3 points) (Rompe, Jan D et al. 2009).

Can Peloton Make Hip Bursitis Worse?

In general, the peloton rides that are out of the saddle and take longer than 60 minutes can make hip bursitis worse because the body’s position when riding a bike places most of the weight directly on the hip, which can increase the pain and worsen the symptoms. Also, high-intensity interval training includes running, jumping, and deep squats.

However, if you choose to use the bike, a good rule of thumb is to take it easy and start from low-intensity classes like recovery rides that do not exceed 20 minutes. Also, if the problem continues, get a referral to see a physiotherapist get a specific program designed for you.

Which Peloton Classes Are Best For Hip Bursitis

In general, the best peloton classes that can help with hip bursitis are stretches, foam rolling, and yoga that is concentrated on releasing the tension from the piriformis and ITB. Plus, setting the bike in the correct position that can engage glutes and take the pressure off the hips is important.

Also, please remember that strengthening and stabilizing core exercises can help with the pelvis and pelvic stability. The best peloton workouts for that include pilates and abs classes.

Peloton classes that you should avoid with hip bursitis include:

  • HIIT and Tabata
  • Climb rides
  • Interval rides
  • HIIT Cardio
  • Bootcamp
  • Running

Conclusion

As you can see, riding the Peloton bike keeps the hips mobile and helps to improve hip function, as long as it’s performed with an optimal range of motion. It also tones the abdominal and oblique muscles, as well as engages the ones on your back, legs, and hips.

However, lack of sufficient warm-up, mobility, and stretching can aggregate the hip pain, which is why (in most cases) light aerobic exercise, stretching, and bodyweight strength training are recommended to strengthen the muscles and reduce inflammation.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts