Peloton Pain and Discomfort: Causes and Solutions

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Are you experiencing Peloton pain and discomfort because you’re riding more? If you’re like many people–myself included–this isn’t the first time you’ve been on a spin bike. However, this may be the first time you’re noticing pain and discomfort after riding the Peloton bike specifically.

What gives, am I right?

Well, I think there are a couple of things going on.

Why riding a Peloton is different

One, when you rode the spin bike at the gym, you took your class and went home. With the Peloton in our living room, bedroom, basement or wherever you have it at the house, you’re likely riding more than ever.

Two, when you rode a spin bike at the gym, you could adjust the seat up and down, and forward or back, and the handlebars up and down as well as front and back. With the Peloton, your only option for the handlebars is up and down.

Three, at the gym you had a teacher to help you figure out your seat and handlebar settings. With Peloton, there’s no one at home to help you. 

Visiting a Peloton store for help

Do you live near a Peloton store? (Here’s a link to the Peloton store locator on the Peloton site.) If so, it might make sense to visit the store and ask an employee for help setting your handlebars and seat. 

If you don’t live near a store or you don’t want to go visit one, I would strongly recommend signing up for a professional bike fit. There are tons of people who offer this.

I think the best is from Peloton instructor Matt Wilpers and his Team Wilpers. Here is my review of my virtual remote bike fit and how much it helped my pain and discomfort.

Where you’re feeling the Peloton pain and discomfort

In this blog post I’m going to outline some of the most common places that people experience pain and discomfort after getting a Peloton. This includes:

  • Knee pain
  • Saddle and butt pain
  • Foot pain
  • Hip pain
  • Arm and shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Leg pain

So, I’ll outline the body part or parts where you’re likely feeling pain and discomfort. Then, along the way I’ll do my best to explain why you’re feeling the way you do and offer some basic solutions, too. 

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT MEANT TO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. WHEN IN DOUBT SEE YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ANY PAIN OR DISCOMFORT YOU ARE FEELING. THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

Knee pain riding a Peloton

If you’re feeling knee pain while riding your Peloton, you’re not alone. Usually, you get knee pain for one of two reasons. One, your seat position. Two, your cleat position.

How does your seat position give you knee pain? Where your seat is affects your ability to pedal smoothly. If you’re got poor pedal form, then your knees are going to pay the price.

Why seat position matters for your pain

I believe that the most common reason people riding a Peloton have knee pain is because their seat is too far forward. And I believe this because you really can’t move the Peloton handlebars closer to the seat like you can with a traditional spin bike. So, the tendency is to try to move the seat closer to the handlebars so you can reach them better.

When I first started riding my Peloton, I had my seat in the “A” position. That way I didn’t have to stretch to reach the handlebars. But, soon thereafter, I had terrible knee pain in the front of my knee.

How a Peloton bike fitting helped with my pain

After my fitting with Team Wilpers, I learned that I was actually riding sitting too straight up. That means I wasn’t engaging all the muscles in my legs–just my quads, the muscles on the front of the leg. 

And, because of my position, when I pedaled, my knee was coming over and beyond my foot. That’s bad form.

You never want your knee to go past your foot. If you’ve ever done squats, you understand this.

Anyway, once I moved my seat back to D 1/2, my knees stopped hurting. 

Handlebar adjuster

Because the Peloton bike doesn’t allow you to move the handlebars forward or back, a company called Top Form Design created a product that can. It makes a handlebar adjuster for both the original Peloton bike as well as the Bike Plus. 

It offers two kinds of handlebar adjusters. The first one is the Fixed Adjuster. It makes the handlebars three inches closer. 

The second one is just called The Adjuster. It has a sliding mechanism that moves the handlebars to more than four inches closer, if that’s what you want. I’ve showcased the various models below.

When you shop on the Top Form Design website, use code LEAH10 at checkout to save 10%.

Note: this discount code does not work on Amazon.

Peloton handlebar adjuster

Handlebar Adjuster for Peloton

As mentioned The Adjuster is an aftermarket, add-on product adapter that lets you slide the Peloton handlebars closer to the seat.

Top Form Design, maker of the Adjuster, now has multiple versions for the original Peloton Bike as well as the Bike Plus.

Use code LEAH10 at checkout to save 10%!

Knee pain in other places

Here are two other common places you may feel knee pain and how to fix it.

One, you may get knee pain when riding in a standing position or out of the saddle. You simply may not have the leg strength yet to be riding standing up. 

Another possibility is you don’t have the resistance heavy enough. Therefore, your pedals are “slipping” as you move them, putting pressure on your knees.

Two, behind the knee pain. Pain behind the knee usually means one of two things. One, your seat is too far back. Two, your seat is too high. 

It’s possible it’s both–a seat that’s too high and too far back. So, play around with the seat position to see which feels better. 

peloton-knee-pain-chart

How cleats on cycling shoes affect knee pain

If you’re using cycling shoes to ride your Peloton, you should pay attention to where the cleats are on the bottom of your shoes. You may not realize that they can be moved into different positions based on where you’re feeling discomfort.

For example, if you’re feeling pain on the outside of your knee, you should move the cleat closer to the inside of your foot. Alternately, if you’re feeling pain on the inside of the knee, you want to move the cleat closer to the outside of your foot. 

Cleats hold your shoes in place

These differences in cleat position affect how your foot stays in the pedal when clipped in. A cleat in the wrong position could have you pedaling with your knees bowing in or out. You always want your knees to be tracking forward.

It’s possible that you might feel pain in your right knee and not your left. Therefore, you would move the cleat on the leg that’s bothering you only. 

Part of the remote bike fit with Team Wilpers was talking about my cleat positioning. You can also bring your cycling shoes to a local bike shop and ask one of the pros there for help. 

Peloton bike seat pain

By far the biggest complaint I hear from new-to-Peloton riders has to do with bike seat pain. Like I said in the introduction, I think that many people get butt, saddle or tailbone pain from their Peloton because they’re riding it more and longer than when they were at the gym. 

I mean the Peloton seat itself is pretty squishy. I’ve felt the seats on road bikes for riding outside, and they were rock hard. The Peloton seat is definitely more comfortable.

But I do think the fact that you can’t adjust the handlebars has people sitting “funny” on the saddle. So, they end up with a sore butt.

How to avoid butt pain

The pain will pass once you get used to riding. But in the meantime, if you’re riding for long periods of time, invest in padded shorts. Peloton instructors Matt Wilpers and Christine D’Ercole are experienced cyclists and they always wear padded shorts on longer rides.

Also, when you wear those padded shorts, don’t wear them with underwear. That causes chafing and saddle sores. 

Products to help with butt pain

Our favorite brands of padded shorts are Terry for Women and Baleaf. Use code LEAH15 on the Baleaf website to save 15% on your purchase of padded shorts or any item they sell.

If necessarily, use a glide cream or chamois cream in areas where you feel sore. Think of it as a lube for cycling.

Despite investing in padded shorts, my husband still rides with a padded seat to avoid butt and groin pain. We love the Komfy gel seat cover.

We bought two so that when one is in the wash–yes, they’re machine washable–we have a clean one to put on the bike. Use code LEAH10 at the Komfy website to save 10%. (Note: this discount does not work on Amazon.)

Finally, you may want to check out my post on how to make the Peloton seat more comfortable.

Terry Padded Shorts

Terry Cycling Shorts

I love the Terry padded shorts so much that I have three pair. They have helped keep my butt from getting sore while riding my Peloton. I've collected a range of Terry shorts for women so that if you like long or you like short, or something in between. That way, you can find something that works for you--and keeps your butt from being sore on the Peloton or any spin bike for that matter. Finally, Terry comes with a lifetime warranty--one of my favorite features.

Peloton foot pain

When we got our Peloton in 2016, I was experiencing a lot of foot pain. There were two things going on. One, I have high arches and my cycling shoes weren’t supportive enough. Two, I have wide feet and I needed wide width cycling shoes.

So, the solution for my foot pain. First, since I wore orthotics in my shoes, I made sure to put them in my cycling shoes, too.

Second, I visited my local bike shop to inquire about the best wide width cycling shoes for someone like me. They fitted me with the Bontrager brand, and I’ve worn them ever since.

I talk about finding wide width cycling shoes in this Peloton bike shoes review. Also, you can buy Bontrager wide width cycling shoes online. I’ve highlighted a few examples below.

Wide width cycling shoes

Best Peloton Shoes for Wide Feet

There are a couple of websites that sell cycling shoes for wide feet that you can use with your Peloton. The websites include Trekbikes.com, REI.com and Backcountry.com.

As far as the brands offering wide widths in shoes for the Peloton bike, these include Bontrager (which I wear), Sidi, Lake and Shimano. I've included links to some of these brands and website here.

FYI, since stores like REI have physical locations around the country, it's always possible to buy online and then use curbside pickup, if your shoes are in stock at your local store.

Foot pain and cleat positioning

Just like cleat position can affect the knee pain you feel on the Peloton, it’s the same with foot pain. I’d mentioned how part of my remote bike fit with Team Wilpers included cleat positioning. They had me move my cleats all the way to the inside of my shoe to help support my high arches. 

Another area of the foot and ankle where you might feel pain is in the back of the heel or the Achilles. Usually, a cleat adjustment will help there. My research tells me that moving the cleat to be more in line with the center of your foot or your arch can help tremendously.

Hip pain on the Peloton

Believe it or not, having hip pain has more to do with what you do off the bike than how you ride. That is, you’re spending a lot of time seated when riding a Peloton. Because of that your hip flexors–the muscles that connect your torso to your legs–can become very tight. So, you need to stretch after every ride. 

When a ride is done and the post-ride recommendations come up, don’t click away from the post-ride stretch. Do one. Even just five minutes of stretching will help.

Even better, you should stretch for longer. Try a foam rolling class–this article explains all about foam rolling and who teaches them.

Another option is to use the Peloton app and do some yoga. I would recommend filtering for a 10-minute focus flow under Yoga, and look for those that focus on the hips.

Peloton wrist, arm and shoulder pain

Once again I believe that the Peloton handlebars are the culprit for this kind of pain. If you can’t comfortably reach the handlebars, then you might be using your arms and shoulders in a way that is causing your pain.

Short Peloton riders have their own challenges; this blog post can help.

Or maybe you tend to ride with your shoulders up in your ears. Ever heard Peloton instructor Christine D’Ercole say at the beginning of a ride, “Drop your shoulders, drop your baggage”?

Our shoulders do tend to creep up as we ride. So, be mindful of that and get them out of your ears.

Core strength affects arm pain

Another culprit for wrist and arm pain? A weak core.

I’ve heard Peloton instructor Denis Morton talk many times about how you should be putting your hands lightly on the handlebars, not leaning on them to hold you up. A strong core can help in this regard.

Last month, when I was in a cast for a hurt wrist, I couldn’t hold onto the handlebars at all. So, I had to ride sitting up, no-handed, like I used to do as a kid on my outside bike. But I’ve also been working on core strength through the hardCORE on the Floor calendar. So, that helped.

Here’s my post about Peloton strength classes along with the best weights to get for Peloton.

If you think the handlebar distance is making your arms, wrists and shoulders hurt, then I’ll suggest again looking into buying the handlebar adjuster from Top Form Design

Peloton bike and back pain

Do I sound like a broken record yet? Yup, you can likely blame the handlebars for any lower back pain you may be feeling. Again, if you’re reaching to get to them, then you’re possibly putting undue strain on your low back.

Here’s another potential reason you have lower back pain–you have tight glutes. You know, glutes that are the muscles in your butt.

Riding longer on my Peloton gave me back pain

I was having a lot of lower back pain when I started riding more during Power Zone challenges. I couldn’t figure out why, because I was stretching my hamstrings after every ride. I’d always heard that tight hammies can cause low back pain.

But it turns out that I needed to stretch my glutes. The figure four stretch can help, but what really gets at it are those aforementioned foam rolling classes.

Trust me–you’ll never know how many knots you have in your behind until you start foam rolling. I’ve listed some of my favorite foam rollers, below. I’ve also included cork balls you can use when you don’t have the time or space to fully foam roll.

Products for foam rolling

Foam Roller to Use in Foam Rolling Classes

Peloton leg pain

There are many places you might feel pain in your legs during or after riding your Peloton. You might have quad pain, which is on the top front of your legs. Or, you might feel pain in the back of your legs, which could be sciatica.

I know that once I had my bike fit, I started using and feeling all of the muscles in my legs. Instead of riding quad-dominant, now I was engaging my glutes and hamstrings–or hammies, as Matt Wilpers likes to call these muscles on the backs of your legs.

Stretching and foam rolling after class helped. But what really helped was starting to take cool down rides after my workout.

When you’re riding hard, your muscles are building up lactic acid. If you don’t give your legs the chance to “flush” that lactic acid after a ride, then you’re likely to end up with very sore muscles. 

Pain in front or back of leg

If you’re dealing with pain in the front of your leg, say in your quads, you may be dealing with similar issues to those with knee pain. Check your seat position to make sure it’s not too high or too low.

Additionally, watch your form as you cycle. If your knees are bowing out when you pedal, you may need to adjust your cleats, or move your seat up. 

Think about what a grown up looks like riding a bike that’s too small for them. Don’t be that grown up with your knees splaying out to the side.

via GIPHY

As far as sciatic pain in the back of your legs, see your doctor. Sciatica can often be a sign of a pinched nerve. Offering a solution is above my pay grade.

Final thoughts on solving pain and discomfort on the Peloton bike

Hopefully, this advice has targeted the area of your body where you’ve been feeling pain and discomfort. If not, post a comment and let me know.

Overall, it’s a good idea to make sure that your seat and handlebars are where you need them to be to ride comfortably. Additionally, check with a professional about the cleat placement on the bottom of your shoe.

Finally, fire up the Peloton app when you’re off the bike to stretch and foam roll. And don’t forget to cross train with some strength classes, including strengthening your core. All of that should help you feel more comfortable on and off the bike.

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