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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

Got myself a new bike right before the winter (yes, I know, crazy me!) and proceeded to get a complete BG fit at my LBS. We spent a couple of hours together, he took my measurements and all that jazz and then made the proper change on my bike.

Fast forward to my first bike ride of the year (screw you canadian winter) and I don't need to tell you guys how excited I was! Unfortunately, that joy didn't last for long; I rode for 12 miles and my upper back (shoulder blades and neck) was screaming for help. I thought to myself that it would go away quickly since it was the first ride of the year and my body needed to get used to it but no, it didn't. The pain won't go away, It's been a week now and the pain is still there, affecting my daily routine and even troubling me in my sleep (can't find a comfortable position).

I get in touch with the guy who fitting me (which is a fellow rider of mine) and immediately told me that his fit is fine, that my riding position is faulty, that I should work on my flexibility and that I should stretch way more.

I'm quite puzzled and sad now because I've tanked quite a few bucks in this bike and the BG fit only to be unable to ride said bike and even not being able to sleep.

I'd like to know if you guys had any techniques to improve my flexibility and riding position or should I just go to another fitter?

Thanks a lot!
 

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A wheelist
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As the human head weighs about 10 lbs it's surprising that more of us don't suffer from neck muscle strain, as you have. This is one of the reasons that we keep riding year round, and I'm in Canada too so my riding is in the basement on rollers for 5 months of the year (4-7x per week). Heck we're half way through April and I'm only recently mixing the occasional road ride with rollers. All our cycling related muscles need to be kept in trim.

I would strongly suggest that you find a Physiotherapist. They will diagnose your problem and help with re-hab and any needed strengthening exercises. I've been going to a great one and I'm starting my third year with her. In the early days she sent me home with her video camera to record myself on rollers. Her critique of my position helped lots and we did a few positional changes. It's a rare bike shop bike-fitter who will know human physiology anything close to a Physiotherapist.

And by the way - no-one on this site can diagnose and suggest treatment.
 

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there are potentially lots of issues here, but one of the options is having the fit reassessed, whether with the original fitter ("the fit is fine, but your riding positon is faulty" what does he mean by that?) or someone else. pain that won't go away sounds awful. good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@ Mike T.: Strangely enough, I wasn't experiencing any upper pain issues when I was using my indoor trainer. Thanks a lot for this well written comment however, I'll book an appointment with a physio asap.

@ Dnice : It isn't the first time he fits me on a bike so he's starting to know me plus we ride together and he always says that my riding position is too stiff. Maybe he's right and that I'll need to work on this as well but I never had any pain in the upper back before getting on my new bike.

Could it be that my hbars is too small? I'm riding a 40cm at the moment but have always used a 42cm in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My first reaction is...another fitter.

But some background info would help us inform you better.

Do you have weight to lose?

First bike? ..as in new to road cycling?

Athletic background?

Injuries of note?
No, I'm 22 years old, 5'8'', 145 lbs and pretty healthy.

This is my second road bike. Rode more than 7k kms with the first one.

None really, just an avid biker with a back issue.
 

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Do you still have the old bike? How different are the setup measurements?

All things being equal (or change was minimal)...

Sounds like maybe a combination of tight muscles and a core that has lost some strength in the off season.

Do a cycling specific stretching routine twice a day.

Do a foam roller routine once a day.

Add in some core work: How To Improve Core Strength For Cyclists - YouTube
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you still have the old bike? How different are the setup measurements?

All things being equal (or change was minimal)...

Sounds like maybe a combination of tight muscles and a core that has lost some strength in the off season.

Do a cycling specific stretching routine twice a day.

Do a foam roller routine once a day.

Add in some core work: How To Improve Core Strength For Cyclists - YouTube
What a wonderful video, I'll definitely start working on my core strength!

Unfortunately, I do not have the old bike because I've sold it.

Thanks a lot for the tips mate.
 

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@ Mike T.: Strangely enough, I wasn't experiencing any upper pain issues when I was using my indoor trainer. Thanks a lot for this well written comment however, I'll book an appointment with a physio asap.

@ Dnice : It isn't the first time he fits me on a bike so he's starting to know me plus we ride together and he always says that my riding position is too stiff. Maybe he's right and that I'll need to work on this as well but I never had any pain in the upper back before getting on my new bike.

Could it be that my hbars is too small? I'm riding a 40cm at the moment but have always used a 42cm in the past.
it could be bars. or many things. and even after the physio tells you what's wrong and/or why it happened, you'll still need to get a fit that works for you on that bike given whatever physical limitations you currently have.

let us know how it works out for you.
 

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I don't at all dispute the advice to get your fit re-assessed, improve flexibility and back/neck strength and to get your lingering pain assessed and solved.

However, I don't necessarily disagree with the advice given by your fitter - that it could be your riding position/habits. Here's something I posted in a different forum recently. I'm not an expert, but this has worked for me in not only bicycling but other sports where tension and poor body mechanics can cause pain.

You should actively and consciously think about unhunching your shoulders, shrugging and then relaxing them, loosening up your neck, etc. when riding. It's pretty common for people to have their shoulders up by their ears when riding (exaggeration, of course, but you get the idea). It's important to actually learn to relax the shoulders and neck. Many people really do hunch and strain their necks unnecessarily, but just thinking of it and moving/stretching/relaxing while riding can solve the problem.

Even though you've been professionally fit, within good fit there are options and value judgements, if you will. You can have a good, but racy fit, or a good, but more relaxed fit. If you're young and "enthusiastic", the fitter might have assumed you both wanted and could handle a fairly racy fit.

That's not necessarily a problem. But something that might help is to just bring the bars up so you don't have to lift your head so much. The idea of handlebars even with the saddle has a lot of merit for comfort and if "aerodynamics" is a concern (why should it be? comfort and enthusiasm for riding makes most of us much faster than a racy position), that's why the elbows bend and the handlebars have drops. You can get as low as you physically can even with your bars up - the bar height most likely isn't the limiting factor for that.

Finally, try to keep your head in more of a neutral position - again people need to think of this and "practice it", like we practice other good body mechanics. You don't have to have your face vertical to the road to see, that puts a lot of strain on the neck. Neutral head where eyes naturally would be looking at the pavement a little ways ahead, but use the eyeballs rather than the neck to look up the road further.

Hope some of that makes sense. Again, your fit might might be a culprit - handlebar width, handle bar height, reach, etc., but it's body mechanics and tension that could be doing a lot of it.
 

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If you were previously riding with 42cm bars why are you using 40's now? Did you fitter decide the 42's were too wide for you? Moving up to appropriately wide bars alleviated some upper back discomfort I was experiencing prior to my last fitting, but it does sound like you have a much more wide ranging issue (or set of issues) than I did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you were previously riding with 42cm bars why are you using 40's now? Did you fitter decide the 42's were too wide for you? Moving up to appropriately wide bars alleviated some upper back discomfort I was experiencing prior to my last fitting, but it does sound like you have a much more wide ranging issue (or set of issues) than I did.
Yes and really don't know why either. I'll probably have to try a 42cm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I don't at all dispute the advice to get your fit re-assessed, improve flexibility and back/neck strength and to get your lingering pain assessed and solved.

However, I don't necessarily disagree with the advice given by your fitter - that it could be your riding position/habits. Here's something I posted in a different forum recently. I'm not an expert, but this has worked for me in not only bicycling but other sports where tension and poor body mechanics can cause pain.

You should actively and consciously think about unhunching your shoulders, shrugging and then relaxing them, loosening up your neck, etc. when riding. It's pretty common for people to have their shoulders up by their ears when riding (exaggeration, of course, but you get the idea). It's important to actually learn to relax the shoulders and neck. Many people really do hunch and strain their necks unnecessarily, but just thinking of it and moving/stretching/relaxing while riding can solve the problem.

Even though you've been professionally fit, within good fit there are options and value judgements, if you will. You can have a good, but racy fit, or a good, but more relaxed fit. If you're young and "enthusiastic", the fitter might have assumed you both wanted and could handle a fairly racy fit.

That's not necessarily a problem. But something that might help is to just bring the bars up so you don't have to lift your head so much. The idea of handlebars even with the saddle has a lot of merit for comfort and if "aerodynamics" is a concern (why should it be? comfort and enthusiasm for riding makes most of us much faster than a racy position), that's why the elbows bend and the handlebars have drops. You can get as low as you physically can even with your bars up - the bar height most likely isn't the limiting factor for that.

Finally, try to keep your head in more of a neutral position - again people need to think of this and "practice it", like we practice other good body mechanics. You don't have to have your face vertical to the road to see, that puts a lot of strain on the neck. Neutral head where eyes naturally would be looking at the pavement a little ways ahead, but use the eyeballs rather than the neck to look up the road further.

Hope some of that makes sense. Again, your fit might might be a culprit - handlebar width, handle bar height, reach, etc., but it's body mechanics and tension that could be doing a lot of it.
Amazing reply. I will definitely try to work on my stance and relax more. Thanks a lot!
 

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If you can go back to your old fit I would. It sounds like you may have done to much too quickly. Or do something easy like flip your stem up and just take some weight off your neck a d shoulders.

I for one do not subscribe to one style of pro fit is necessary for every rider. In the end if you are comfortable, you will go faster. Who cares what others think, cause if you are in pain, you won't ride as much or as long .

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If you can go back to your old fit I would. It sounds like you may have done to much too quickly. Or do something easy like flip your stem up and just take some weight off your neck a d shoulders.

I for one do not subscribe to one style of pro fit is necessary for every rider. In the end if you are comfortable, you will go faster. Who cares what others think, cause if you are in pain, you won't ride as much or as long .

Bill
What do you mean by ''pro fit''? I'll be honest with you and say that my old fit was far from being perfect either since it was my first competitive road carbon bike and that I was still experimenting. That being said, I totally agree with you and I'll try to flip the stem to see what it helps.

Here's a picture of my current fit (shitty iphone quality, beware!)
View attachment 279001
 

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My first reaction in reading through this is that it's missing some very important information about your overall conditioning, flexibility, etc.

It appears abrupt to me to have such great back & neck pain as you describe regardless of bike fit with only 12 miles of riding. I'd like to know more about your overall tested conditioning to start with and if you are "riding" yourself into shape? With all due respect "22 y/o, 5'8", 145lb and pretty healthy" does not reflect much IMO as I've seen 70 y/o's that are lean and strong as steel with 22 y/o's being a skinny/fat & weak (not as an insult to you personally).

I do applaud your work with a pro fitter as I have done as well AND continue to do so as it is always an evolving target. I also know many of us have had to work for a bit in identifying the right fitter. Much like selecting the right doctor, dentist or significant other :). IMO, for those of us who are serious about cycling as their prime recreational passion, we should have another set of eyes and wisdom to help set us up properly. Only a fool thinks they've got all the answers and can diagnose themselves properly...but...we are a world of fools me thinks ;)

Like base miles, your true overall strength and condition level can't be shortcut. It is also not a function of just doing core exercises (like in the video) or jumping on a yoga mat. Core/yoga/stretching routines are your maintenance--checks and balance if you will--keeping your weight resistance training honed. For example, can you/do you perform regularly (using your body weight) pull ups, chin ups, sit ups, planks, squats, pushups, burpee's, step-ups etc? Can you jog a mile? Can you jump rope? With scores appropriate for your age and health, core/yoga/stretching then tunes you to be stronger with your well fitted bike :thumbsup:

Whatever is the case and resolve...I hope your pain goes away soon and you can enjoy your rides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It appears abrupt to me to have such great back & neck pain as you describe regardless of bike fit with only 12 miles of riding. I'd like to know more about your overall tested conditioning to start with and if you are "riding" yourself into shape? With all due respect "22 y/o, 5'8", 145lb and pretty healthy" does not reflect much IMO as I've seen 70 y/o's that are lean and strong as steel with 22 y/o's being a skinny/fat & weak (not as an insult to you personally).
I like to think that I am in shape for someone of my age. I do not have the best cardio but I've been working on it ever since I hopped on a road bike. I've ridden for more than 7000 kilometers last year, did a couple of centuries alone or in a group and greatly reduced my alcohol consumption (which wasn't even that important to being with). I've always had a really low self esteem and often thought I was good for nothing so riding my bike, pushing myself harder every day and enjoying the sun really became an addiction as well as a get away.

I do applaud your work with a pro fitter as I have done as well AND continue to do so as it is always an evolving target. I also know many of us have had to work for a bit in identifying the right fitter. Much like selecting the right doctor, dentist or significant other :). IMO, for those of us who are serious about cycling as their prime recreational passion, we should have another set of eyes and wisdom to help set us up properly. Only a fool thinks they've got all the answers and can diagnose themselves properly...but...we are a world of fools me thinks ;)
A really important point that just made me realize something: I've always been fitted by the same guy (which is also a good friend of mine) and I really did put all my trust in his abilities as a fitter. Sadly, now that I think of it, I have to be honest and say that I've always experienced pain in my lower or upper back after every single one of his fit (been fitted three times). I do not wish to discredit him but it's probably a part of the current problem.

Like base miles, your true overall strength and condition level can't be shortcut. It is also not a function of just doing core exercises (like in the video) or jumping on a yoga mat. Core/yoga/stretching routines are your maintenance--checks and balance if you will--keeping your weight resistance training honed. For example, can you/do you perform regularly (using your body weight) pull ups, chin ups, sit ups, planks, squats, pushups, burpee's, step-ups etc? Can you jog a mile? Can you jump rope? With scores appropriate for your age and health, core/yoga/stretching then tunes you to be stronger with your well fitted bike :thumbsup:
I've been doing body weight training at home regularly during the winter (3 to 5 times a week) and also been riding my bike on a indoor trainer. I couldn't say on the bike for a long period of time since my feet were getting numb and my bottom was getting real sore (I do not have these issues while I ride outside).

Admittedly, I've always neglected to stretch after working out or riding hard. I usually just jumped in the pool, swam a little and then passed out in a chair with a beer in my hand. Maybe it's catching up on me after all this time.

Furthermore, I'm not really flexible; I can't touch the floor with my hands while stretching forward and so forth.

Whatever is the case and resolve...I hope your pain goes away soon and you can enjoy your rides.
I'm REALLY grateful for all these useful replies as well as inputs and I shall keep you guys updated as time goes.

For the time being, my back is still in pain even though I went to a physio so I will have to take care of it before even thinking about getting back on my bike which is really bugging me because the sun is now out and the temperature is rising.

Thanks a lot!
 
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