Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had bad neck pain after about 10 miles into a ride. I tried everything on my own as far as adjustments (seat height, length to stem, stem angle, etc) which seemed to only aggravate the situation. I finally broke down and paid for a pro fit. While I admit this has helped (I now have pain about 30miles into a ride), it still feels like a hot knife in between right shoulder and neck. I have only done one ride since the fitting, so this may be premature. The mechanic who did the fit said he designed it such I could do long (70 mile rides) without pain... My 46 miler really hurt!

I will call the shop that did the fitting to see if more adjustments are necessary. I've never had a neck/shoulder or back injury that I know of. I am so discouraged I'm thinking of dropping the sport I love. I am not a racer, I just want to go on long club rides and not be in pain. Any words of encouragement would be appreciated as I'm quite frustrated.

I do have to conciously force myself to relax my shoulders, but I think the problem is me straining to keep my face parallel to the ground. I'm considering trying a shorter stem. I'm considering throwing in the towel.

:mad2:

Thanks,
Desperate and in pain
 

·
classiquesklassieker
Joined
·
3,113 Posts
Too much too soon?

linuxted said:
I do have to conciously force myself to relax my shoulders, but I think the problem is me straining to keep my face parallel to the ground. I'm considering trying a shorter stem. I'm considering throwing in the towel.

:mad2:

Thanks,
Desperate and in pain
If you are new to riding and you don't have good core strength, it will take a while before you get comfortable enough for longer rides. Don't get discouraged, but at the same time realize that it often takes time. I suggest a two-prong approach:

1. Work on your core strength, and neck muscle/shoulder
strengthening exercises. This helps you be more relaxed while
riding. This is key. If your muscles are always nervous, how
can you expect to be comfortable? Having good core strength
promotes better posture.

2. Do a systematic self-assessment of your fit. Is your left limb longer
than your right? Was this taken into account during the "pro fit"?
Is your handlebar the right width? My fit took into account my limb
length discrepancy, so I adjust my shifters ever so slightly to make
up the difference. I even adjust my saddle tilt to get yet more
comfort. So it's a bunch of small things that only YOU can figure
out for yourself.

A so-called "pro fit" can come in a large range of qualities, but regardless, in many cases you are the best help for yourself! When making these adjustments, do one at a time and don't do them too quickly. Let your body adapt.

Good luck!
 

·
"Cypress Gardens" Fl.
Joined
·
686 Posts
Agree with "O.J."..........

dont let this get you down. Sometimes I still get neck/shoulder pain, even on short 20 mile rides. Building up your core muscles in that area will provide a stronger platform for your arms/shoulder/neck to work from, being bent over on drop bars. (i assume you have drop bars)

Despite your pro fit, make sure your back is flat and you are not hunched over the bars.
Relax your shoulders, arms bent slightly, and easy grip on the bars. On your rides, every few miles or so, roll your head around from side to side to alleviate stiffness. Roll your shoulders too. If need be, get off your bike and take a short break.

If this persists, you may have to go to a riser stem temporarily, to get more up-right in your position. Lots of things you can do before "dropping the bomb" on your bike riding.

hope this helps. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
I was in the same situation and I described the pain as an "ice pick in the back of my neck" to family and friends. It was so bad that I usually refused to do any ride longer than 1 hour. My solution was to -- ride more. Eventually my pain went away as I think my neck muscules got used to the position and got stronger. Now, the worst it gets is a very dull ache which isn't a problem at all.

-Joel
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
I used to get some neck pain when I'd hit the 60-70 mile point for years until I moved the saddle back 1cm and shortened the stem 2cm and finally raised the bars about 1cm. A pro bike fit is nice if they know what there doing and I suspect even then they will get you close and it's up to you to make the small adjustments , becouse the fitter can't feel what you feel. Being too far forward will put too much weight on your hands and hence preasure on your neck. You need to be balanced on the saddle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
287 Posts
DONT GIVE IN !!!! That would be a real shame. I wen thtrough the same thing...it goes away eventually. Relax your arms and shoulders while riding. Dont grab the bar too hard and create tension needlessly. Also, try double wrapping your bars or getting some gel inserts (that go under the wrap) to reduce the vibrations from the road. Massages help a lot too.

Keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,358 Posts
I have had the same problem. I wound up deciding that my bike's top tube was too long for me, so I bought a 2cm shorter bike. Making the same change with a shorter stem wasn't an option since I had a 110mm on the old bike... a 90mm stem is kind of short for a 58cm bike.

The shorter reach has gotten rid of the 'too stretched out' feeling and allowed me to drop the bars significantly while still being comfortable for century+ rides.

What changes did the pro fitter make?

Building up your neck/shoulder strength will help. So will riding more and staying relaxed on the bike.

If your helmet has a visor, or your glasses have a low rim above your eyes, you may be tipping your head back so you can see. That strains the neck muscles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,832 Posts
Sideways glance

While fit is important, your behavior is just as important. You already have told us that you tend to tense up your shoulders, so this provides an avenue to comfort as your body adapts to the cycling position. There are several things you can do while riding to help. There are a number of stretches - tilting your head from side to side (as if trying to touch your ear to your shoulder), rolling your head, reaching back with each arm alternately as if trying to "take the baton" in a relay race, reaching your elbow across your back, scrunching your shoulders up and down, and so on. For many people, just the act of looking around relieves their neck pain - too many riders get locked into one position (staring forward) and then find that their necks, arms, back, shoulders, etc. get stiff. Imagine that? :)
 

·
BS the DC
Joined
·
1,426 Posts
kpcw said:
BSDC is a Chiropractor here, he can offer input. My Chiro helps keep my spine healthy. I bought a 75cm fitness ball, I lie down prone on it, work the weak spine/back muscles, then lie down supine and work the core as well as stretch the tight muscles.
Thanks for the kind word, KPCW. I've got a few thoughts.

First off, the description of the pain as "it still feels like a hot knife in between right shoulder and neck" makes me concerned for a disc injury. Where exactly is the pain? Near the corner of the shoulder blade or on top of the trapezius muscle? Do you have any pain, tingling or numbness in your arm or hand?

Secondly, my quick, easy solution to neck pain on the bike is to have the person stretch their hamstrings. This allows the pelvis to rotate forward, which allows the spine to rotate into better alignment and will take a lot of stress off the neck and shoulders.

If you've adjusted your bike fit and tried all the stretches and exercises everyone has recommended, and you're still having pain, it may be time to go see a chiropractor. A pinched nerve can cause a "hot knife" feeling in the area you describe. Chiropractors treat symptoms like this all day every day.

The following link will help you find a chiropractor especially trained in treating sports injuries: http://www.acbsp.com/searching.asp
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
bsdc said:
Thanks for the kind word, KPCW. I've got a few thoughts.

First off, the description of the pain as "it still feels like a hot knife in between right shoulder and neck" makes me concerned for a disc injury. Where exactly is the pain? Near the corner of the shoulder blade or on top of the trapezius muscle? Do you have any pain, tingling or numbness in your arm or hand?

Secondly, my quick, easy solution to neck pain on the bike is to have the person stretch their hamstrings. This allows the pelvis to rotate forward, which allows the spine to rotate into better alignment and will take a lot of stress off the neck and shoulders.

If you've adjusted your bike fit and tried all the stretches and exercises everyone has recommended, and you're still having pain, it may be time to go see a chiropractor. A pinched nerve can cause a "hot knife" feeling in the area you describe. Chiropractors treat symptoms like this all day every day.

The following link will help you find a chiropractor especially trained in treating sports injuries: http://www.acbsp.com/searching.asp
The pain is is located midway between just above the top of my right shoulder blade and my spine. I do not have any tingling or numbness anywhere on arms or hands.

My hamstrings are very tight. I cannot touch my toes (never have been able to). This could be part of the issue. I've tried to stretch but obviously it hasn't been enough.

Part of the "pro fit" included raising the stem *and* flipping it to make it higher. I am more upright, but I still feel a bit stretched on the hoods. The fitter thought it would be ok, but I'll be calling him.

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
croswell1 said:
dont let this get you down. Sometimes I still get neck/shoulder pain, even on short 20 mile rides. Building up your core muscles in that area will provide a stronger platform for your arms/shoulder/neck to work from, being bent over on drop bars. (i assume you have drop bars)

Despite your pro fit, make sure your back is flat and you are not hunched over the bars.
Relax your shoulders, arms bent slightly, and easy grip on the bars. On your rides, every few miles or so, roll your head around from side to side to alleviate stiffness. Roll your shoulders too. If need be, get off your bike and take a short break.

If this persists, you may have to go to a riser stem temporarily, to get more up-right in your position. Lots of things you can do before "dropping the bomb" on your bike riding.

hope this helps. :)
Actually the stem was raised 5mm and flipped to get more height. I do feel a bit stretched though. The fitter said the size of the bike was fine, although I was "between sizes" for Giant's compact geometry.

Thanks for the writeup, it is encouraging. I really wanna ride long distances
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
kpcw said:
Very good advice above.

Edit: BSDC is a Chiropractor here, he can offer input. My Chiro helps keep my spine healthy. I bought a 75cm fitness ball, I lie down prone on it, work the weak spine/back muscles, then lie down supine and work the core as well as stretch the tight muscles.

I really like Orange Julius' advice in that he reminds us of what I believe; one's health is ultimately one's responsibility.

Also, if your neck hurts, that is the top of the ladder...look to the middle rungs of the ladder for an answer too. In other words, my C4, 5, 6 ache, but it's from the weakness in my thoracic (mid back) spine which cause it...

These are all worth reading (my neck has been an issue recently too :mad: ):

http://www.roadcycling.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/6/1026

http://www.childreninthewilderness.com/cycle_tour/news/tdz_tdz_dec_2005.html

http://www.ghc.org/cycling/gearAndFit/position.jhtml;jsessionid=MROKKJKJH2SX3JCISQ3SHPQ

http://www.newstarget.com/007249.html


Thanks so much for the writeup and the links... Looks like I have some homework to do ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ericm979 said:
I have had the same problem. I wound up deciding that my bike's top tube was too long for me, so I bought a 2cm shorter bike. Making the same change with a shorter stem wasn't an option since I had a 110mm on the old bike... a 90mm stem is kind of short for a 58cm bike.

The shorter reach has gotten rid of the 'too stretched out' feeling and allowed me to drop the bars significantly while still being comfortable for century+ rides.

What changes did the pro fitter make?

Building up your neck/shoulder strength will help. So will riding more and staying relaxed on the bike.

If your helmet has a visor, or your glasses have a low rim above your eyes, you may be tipping your head back so you can see. That strains the neck muscles.
To address your question, the pro fitter did the following:
Watched me ride on a trainer for 5 minutes
Raised the seat (he said it was "way low")
moved the seat forward about 10mm
raised the stem 5mm with a spacer and flipped the stem to get more height
adjusted the cleat angles
adjusted the handlebar angle
adjusted the shifter height and angle
then iterated between me riding and him tweaking the adjustments until he felt I was looking good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Kerry Irons said:
While fit is important, your behavior is just as important. You already have told us that you tend to tense up your shoulders, so this provides an avenue to comfort as your body adapts to the cycling position. There are several things you can do while riding to help. There are a number of stretches - tilting your head from side to side (as if trying to touch your ear to your shoulder), rolling your head, reaching back with each arm alternately as if trying to "take the baton" in a relay race, reaching your elbow across your back, scrunching your shoulders up and down, and so on. For many people, just the act of looking around relieves their neck pain - too many riders get locked into one position (staring forward) and then find that their necks, arms, back, shoulders, etc. get stiff. Imagine that? :)

Those are great suggestions, and I do all of them (accept the 'baton'... I'll have to try that), but perhaps not often enough.

Thank you for the reply
 

·
BS the DC
Joined
·
1,426 Posts
linuxted said:
The pain is is located midway between just above the top of my right shoulder blade and my spine. I do not have any tingling or numbness anywhere on arms or hands.

My hamstrings are very tight. I cannot touch my toes (never have been able to). This could be part of the issue. I've tried to stretch but obviously it hasn't been enough.

Part of the "pro fit" included raising the stem *and* flipping it to make it higher. I am more upright, but I still feel a bit stretched on the hoods. The fitter thought it would be ok, but I'll be calling him.

Thanks
The spot where you are experiencing pain is a common referral pattern for a disc injury. The fact that you don't have symptoms radiating into your arm is great. Other considerations are a simpler pinched nerve or a muscle strain, but usually muscle strains aren't usually described as a "hot knife." Again, if some of the other advice on this site doesn't work, it may be time to go see a doctor who can help you properly diagnose and treat the problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,555 Posts
Saddle tilt?

Orange Julius mentioned adjusting saddle tilt for comfort. I'm surprised your pro fitter apparently didn't bother with it. Just a few degrees down or up can make a huge difference in comfort. Basically, nose up from level moves a lot of weight off your arms and hands and onto your butt. Nose down from level does the opposite. Only you will know where you need to be after trying different degrees of tilt.

The attached graphic is drawn to scale will give you a sense of how these differences in tilt look—it's very subtle. I'd limit myself to 2 degrees from level ( 4 degrees total range) when trying different positions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,844 Posts
You might need to raise your handlebars higher. Most road bikes are designed so the handlebars are lower than the saddles, and it can be hard raising them to saddle height without using a riser stem and spacers. Even with a professional fitting, your fitter might not have raised your handlebar high enough.

I don't typically have neck or back pains, but had terrible problems with hand numbness until I raised my handlebars to the level of my saddle. I had to buy a new frame to do this because the steerer tube was not long enough on my previous bike, even with a riser stem. My hand numbness went away entirely after raising my handlebar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,149 Posts
My 52 year old wife started riding for the first time 2 years ago and had significant neck pain. One contributor was trying to look too far ahead while riding. When I got her to focus in the 10-20 feet in front of her, it helped significantly. She has severe back issues and very weak neck muscles but the craning of her neck was the biggest single contributor.
 

·
Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
Joined
·
9,419 Posts
My wife gets similar problems a lot--I get it rarely, and only when I've gone too hard/far, but we both see the same causes.

What we've found is that when our legs get tired, we start to lose form, locking our elbows, substituting arm and ab strength for leg power (pulling on the bars, etc.), hunching forward, rolling our hips back, and like that.

All stuff that pretty quickly gives us neck and upper back pain. Cutting mileage or intensity and ramping back up more slowly always gives improvement. Just piling miles on is one way to get past this, but the better way is to back off a bit and work up gradually.

Also, it sounds like your pain is in the area that we call your "mouse muscle." It seems to be aggravated by vast amounts of time using a computer mouse, especially when ergonomics are bad. I recommend looking at your computer station ergonomics (if this sounds like a plausible issue--maybe you don't much use a computer during the day), and doing some exercises to strengthen the general area. What helped me the most was a 6-week program of light-weight, high-repetition upright and bent-over rows (there are machines that will allow you to do these with full torso support so you don't risk your lower back, but I'm talking about pretty light weight anyway). Massage may also help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
bikeboy389 said:
My wife gets similar problems a lot--I get it rarely, and only when I've gone too hard/far, but we both see the same causes.

What we've found is that when our legs get tired, we start to lose form, locking our elbows, substituting arm and ab strength for leg power (pulling on the bars, etc.), hunching forward, rolling our hips back, and like that.

All stuff that pretty quickly gives us neck and upper back pain. Cutting mileage or intensity and ramping back up more slowly always gives improvement. Just piling miles on is one way to get past this, but the better way is to back off a bit and work up gradually.

Also, it sounds like your pain is in the area that we call your "mouse muscle." It seems to be aggravated by vast amounts of time using a computer mouse, especially when ergonomics are bad. I recommend looking at your computer station ergonomics (if this sounds like a plausible issue--maybe you don't much use a computer during the day), and doing some exercises to strengthen the general area. What helped me the most was a 6-week program of light-weight, high-repetition upright and bent-over rows (there are machines that will allow you to do these with full torso support so you don't risk your lower back, but I'm talking about pretty light weight anyway). Massage may also help.

I hadn't thought about the computer mouse... that is a very good suggestion.

I just came back from the doctor and had x-rays done of my neck... I'm awaiting the results. The bike fitter recommended a 30degree stem (I'm using a 6degree now) and/or tilting the handlebar.

Thanks
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top