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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I ride for more than about 30-40 miles I get a really bad muscle pain in the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blades. I can't determine if it is just from lifting my head up to look forward (just neck pain extending on down into the upper back) or if it is from my having my shoulders tense and pulled up and back. I try to relax my upper body as much as I can, but I still have problems with this. On 60-70+ mile rides it gets unbearable. Does anyone else have this problem?
 

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Stretch

lemmy999 said:
When I ride for more than about 30-40 miles I get a really bad muscle pain in the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blades. I can't determine if it is just from lifting my head up to look forward (just neck pain extending on down into the upper back) or if it is from my having my shoulders tense and pulled up and back. I try to relax my upper body as much as I can, but I still have problems with this. On 60-70+ mile rides it gets unbearable. Does anyone else have this problem?
Most often, this is from a combination of being tense, not being in shape, and not stretching while riding. Obviously handlebar extension can be a factor as well. For the "non-fit changing fixes" you should work on looking around (not keeping your head in a fixed position for miles on end), relaxing (shake out each arm now and then), and doing some on-bike stretches. Try hunching your shoulders, reaching around back with each arm, pulling your head to one side or the other, etc.
 

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I have had that in the past as well- only when I first took up cycling or after extended brake from the sport/ I did notice the more I rode and extended my rides the pain went away and is now a none issue. I also moved down a bike size from 60 - 58 - it may be a bike fit problem as well - your reach could be too far extended or seat height. Have you had you bike properly fitted? I believe the Feb/March issue of Bicycling Magazine (this would be the Buyers Guide edition) had some common pain areas identified and listed possible causes for pain.
 

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I used to get some cramping in that area from turning to look behind me. Stretching and focusing on being more relaxed on the bike helped me, I don't get it very often anymore
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. I do not stretch that often before or during the rides, at least until the pain starts. Maybe that will help. I guess it could be a fit problem too. I have never been professionally fitted to my bike, from what I have read, I am fairly close to an ideal fit.
 

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between shoulder pain

usually means bad cycling posture. you are bending in the back not the hips. this forces you to crane you neck to see. so your back is curving upward and then recurving to the neck, makes a nice S shape. Learn to keep back straight, pivot at the hip. Should help considerably
 

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I have that same pain alot, but mine is originally from a car accident. Anyway, my chiropractor has me roll up a towel place it on the ground and lie on it with the sore area on the towel. I do this for 10 or 15 minutes after every ride. It is kind of a reverse arch of the back, and it makes sure the pain doesn't continue off the bike. On the bike, he had me strengthen my neck muscles and traps with light weights, and I stretch before during and after a ride, by pulling my neck down to my chest, side to side, and sitting up (no hands)and pulling my arm across my chest as I look as far behind as possible. You might have seen Lance do that last one from time to time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have gone on a 35 mile ride and a 70 mile ride while really concentrating on trying to relax my shoulders and periodically stretch everything. It has definitely helped, but I spent more time on the tops of the bars instead of the hoods. I believe my handlebars need to be brought back just a little. I currently have a 7 degree 100mm stem and I am thinking of changing to a 10 degree 90mm. This will bring the bars directly back about 11mm.
 

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neck exercise...

Weak neck muscles can contribute to this problem. I get a pain in my right shoulder only, if I fail to do occasional neck exercises. I clasp my hands behind my head, lean my head forward, then apply firm resistance as I raise my head back up. You can also use a towel held behind your head grasping the end of the towel with your hands, to apply resistance to the neck.
 

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lemmy999 said:
When I ride for more than about 30-40 miles I get a really bad muscle pain in the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blades. I can't determine if it is just from lifting my head up to look forward (just neck pain extending on down into the upper back) or if it is from my having my shoulders tense and pulled up and back. I try to relax my upper body as much as I can, but I still have problems with this. On 60-70+ mile rides it gets unbearable. Does anyone else have this problem?
I have the same problem. I had a Serotta fitting done a couple of weeks ago with my current bike and he suggested that going to a narrower bar (44 -> 42) would help in that respect. I haven't made the change yet so I have no idea if it will work. I have noticed that my Singlespeed, which has 42 bars doesn't seem to cause as much pain. I'm planning on giving it a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
VaughnA said:
I have the same problem. I had a Serotta fitting done a couple of weeks ago with my current bike and he suggested that going to a narrower bar (44 -> 42) would help in that respect. I haven't made the change yet so I have no idea if it will work. I have noticed that my Singlespeed, which has 42 bars doesn't seem to cause as much pain. I'm planning on giving it a try.

The closest Serotta fitting technician is a couple of hours away from me. About how much does a fitting cost? Randomly replacing parts until things get better can get expensive fast!
 

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lemmy999 said:
The closest Serotta fitting technician is a couple of hours away from me. About how much does a fitting cost? Randomly replacing parts until things get better can get expensive fast!

I got mine for $125 from Wes at East Coasters in Roanoke VA. Well worth the cost. Although I havent changed the bars the rest of the fitting already helped. I picked up about .5 mph on my training loop immediately and my constant lower back pain is basically gone. It really smoothed out my stroke. For the price of a carbon seatpost it did a lot more than saving a frew grams;)
 

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I have the same pain. It was relieved when a rising stem was put on my bike to bring the bars up higher. However, it destroyed the "look" of the bike. I've since found the quote below and have applied this strategy.


Get Fit! Fitting Your Bike In Four Simple Steps
Adam Hodges Myerson

"Many riders who suffer from shoulder and upper back pain mistakenly shorten their reach, thinking it’s caused by their bars being too far away. Often it’s just the opposite; a short reach causes them to shrug their shoulder to take up the slack, leading to pain between the shoulder blades and below the neck."
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
While I agree that too short of stem could cause a problem, and I do seem to shrug my shoulders. I still believe the stem is too far out. I am 70 inches tall with fairly average proportions. My bike frame is a 56 (with a 57.2 Eff TT) and it came with a 100mm/10 degree stem but the guy I bought it from had a 100mm/7 degree stem on it. This makes the bar 4.6mm lower and 2.5mm further away. I do feel like I shrug my shoulders, but I think it is because the bars are so far out that I am supporting too much of my upper body weight with my arms. Then I kind of relax the middle part of my back and let is supsend down between my shoulder blades.

But before I buy anything, I am thinking of going to get a Serotta fit this weekend.
 

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My $0.02: I pulled my right rhomboid muscle (the one that runs from the shoulder blade down to the spine) a while back kayaking, and since have had periodic complaints similar to yours. I do find that riding regularly seems to strenghten the neck and back muscles and reduce the pain you describe; I have also found that some simple excercise of those muscles can aid the process. One that worked well for me during my recovery from the pull was to simply lie on my stomach with arms extended above my head and lift my arms a couple inches off the ground, then sweep both arms down to your sides; think of it as making a snow angel, but you're on your stomach. I would do 10-15 of these; you can add a bit of weight in your hands if you want, but you don't need much; a 16oz bottle of water in each hand was enough for me.
 

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another $.02

As soon as you feel the pain start, look for a hand position or position on the seat that makes the pain go away.

Strengthen your core muscles so they support your upper body and let you take weight off your hands.

Before spending money on a new stem, rotate the bars to bring the hoods up and back a little bit.

Try raising the nose of your saddle. Doing so cured an amazing ache at the base of my neck, just above the shoulder blades.

Don't know if any of these suggestions will work, but none will cause serious harm or cost you a dime.
 

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Thoracic stretch

I had similar problems when I first started cycling. A proper bike fitting worked wonders although I think time on the bike also strengthens the relevant muscles. I found it a really difficult area to stretch properly.

I have had the following stretch recommended to me by my physio, hope it helps:



An Effective Thoracic Extension Self-Mob!
Reference:Sahrmann SA. Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, St. Louis, 2002, Mosby Inc.
I have had excellent feedback from patients regarding the effectiveness of this exercise. It is both an assessment and a potential treatment IF INDICATED.

I have also found this exercise to be highly effective at maintaining thoracic extension mobility for those with mild to moderate osteoporosis or those with ‘poor’ posture.

i) Stand with back against the wall, heels approx. 20cm from wall, feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly flexed.

ii) Flatten the lumbar lordosis into the wall (i.e. perform a posterior pelvic tilt)…this is essential.

iii) Abduct the shoulder to 90° and try to maintain the forearms against the wall.

iv) If possible lift the arms up overhead, touching the wall and while keeping the lumbar spine flat against the wall.

v) Go up as far as possible…always respecting pain…hold 5 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Note: Discontinue immediately if pain and/or paraesthesia is produced in the arms.
[/I]
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the stretch. I will give that a try.

I do not put in nearly as many miles as some on here do, but I do not think more time on the bike will fix my problem. I have been biking a few hundred miles/week on the road since it warmed up and I was riding 2-3 times/week in the winter (either on the Fortius trainer or on the road on warm days). So I never really got off of the bike over the winter.
 

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Winter? What's that?:D

Funnily enough I just received a post from http://www.roadbikerider.com/240f.htm which is a pretty good newsletter that comes out weekly. They had the following article that might be of interest to you as well:


Tilt your head to save your neck.

Here's a simple trick to stave off neck discomfort on long rides.

Get in the habit of tilting your head slightly toward one shoulder and then the other. Hold each tilt for a few moments, alternating back and forth.

This alleviates the constant pressure that comes from craning your neck straight back and holding that position for minutes on end. It's even more helpful when using a low riding position. Down on the handlebar drops, the rearward angle of your head is more pronounced and neck strain and pain are more likely.

The sideways tilt doesn't need to be more than a couple of degrees to be effective. Just get your neck off dead center and enjoy greater comfort.
 

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Aussie Carl said:
Winter? What's that?:D

Funnily enough I just received a post from http://www.roadbikerider.com/240f.htm which is a pretty good newsletter that comes out weekly. They had the following article that might be of interest to you as well:


Tilt your head to save your neck.

Here's a simple trick to stave off neck discomfort on long rides.

Get in the habit of tilting your head slightly toward one shoulder and then the other. Hold each tilt for a few moments, alternating back and forth.

This alleviates the constant pressure that comes from craning your neck straight back and holding that position for minutes on end. It's even more helpful when using a low riding position. Down on the handlebar drops, the rearward angle of your head is more pronounced and neck strain and pain are more likely.

The sideways tilt doesn't need to be more than a couple of degrees to be effective. Just get your neck off dead center and enjoy greater comfort.
A la Mancebo?
 
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