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  1. #1
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    What a pain in he neck

    OK, I am in my 63rd year and I started cycling two months ago. I have logged in just over 300 miles, starting with 5 mile rides around the neighborhood and progressing to 30 mile rides on country roads and bike trails every couple of days. I have worked my way through a variety of pains. First I had sore legs - just using new muscles. Then I had pain in my hands - got real bike gloves and just worked through it. Had pain in the sitting area - fiddled with seat position and worked through it.

    Now I have a new pain and I am a bit stumped on what to do. After an hour and a half, or so, I start to get a tightness and pain at the base of my neck and between my shoulder blades. Maybe this is just another thing that will fade with time. Any thoughts? Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Fecal indicator
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    could be any number of things or combination of things.

    when riding, your head is held by the neck muscles at a somewhat unnatural angle for extended periods. progressively longer rides may be fatiguing under-developed muscles. are you hunching your shoulders in the classic 'turtle' pose or do you ride with a natural, relaxed posture?

    as for the bike, are you sure the frame size is correct for you? how did you get sized prior to purchasing it? bar width, stem length, saddle height, etc could be factors...might look into getting a pro fitting session to check all these.

    make sure you don't do any damage to the nerves in your neck...I irritated mine a couple of years ago and had to go thru several months of intensive PT, chiro, massage to get it back to normal. it pretty much sucked...

    sorry, no magic answers for you...
    eff all y'all...

  3. #3
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    Try paying attention to how relaxed your shoulders are and adjusting your hip/back angle. Depending on how aggressive your bike is set-up this could be the same as the pain in the rear; you just have to get accustomed to it. I say this because I fought neck pain, but now I'm able to go 4 hours with no pain at all.

  4. #4
    old school drop out
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    I've had similar pain on longer rides. Usually early in the season I feel the pain, but it goes away with time. I've found that running a slightly shorter stem (10mm shorter) helps. The pain in caused by supporting the weight of your head over many miles. Moving your head and shrugging your shoulder helps. And the shorter stem puts you in a slightly more upright position, which means that the weight of your head is causing a little less stress on your back and neck muscles.

  5. #5
    Anphaque II
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGMDWK View Post
    OK, I am in my 63rd year and I started cycling two months ago. I have logged in just over 300 miles, starting with 5 mile rides around the neighborhood and progressing to 30 mile rides on country roads and bike trails every couple of days. I have worked my way through a variety of pains. First I had sore legs - just using new muscles. Then I had pain in my hands - got real bike gloves and just worked through it. Had pain in the sitting area - fiddled with seat position and worked through it.

    Now I have a new pain and I am a bit stumped on what to do. After an hour and a half, or so, I start to get a tightness and pain at the base of my neck and between my shoulder blades. Maybe this is just another thing that will fade with time. Any thoughts? Suggestions?
    Is the pain and tightness only when you ride? Does it go away soon after the ride?


    I'm assuming you have a drop bar bike set up. With that in mind plus you have 300 miles under your belt, I'm going to guess you're putting too much weight and pressure on your hands/arms/shoulders/neck.

    Ideally, one should only have enough pressure on the handlebars to steer and not hold weight. The exception is when you're out of the saddle or seated and climbing or seated and accelerating.


    With all that being said (And if it's accurate), strengthening your core would be in order.
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  6. #6
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGMDWK View Post
    OK, I am in my 63rd year and I started cycling two months ago. I have logged in just over 300 miles, starting with 5 mile rides around the neighborhood and progressing to 30 mile rides on country roads and bike trails every couple of days. I have worked my way through a variety of pains. First I had sore legs - just using new muscles. Then I had pain in my hands - got real bike gloves and just worked through it. Had pain in the sitting area - fiddled with seat position and worked through it.

    Now I have a new pain and I am a bit stumped on what to do. After an hour and a half, or so, I start to get a tightness and pain at the base of my neck and between my shoulder blades. Maybe this is just another thing that will fade with time. Any thoughts? Suggestions?
    I've highlighted what I see as key points. As another poster eluded to, this could be acclimation to road riding, could be form, could be fit (or a little of all three), BUT assuming sizing is right, if you haven't been properly fitted to your bike, that's where to start.

    As far as fit related issues that could cause this, IME the most common/ likely is reach - if the bars are too close or too far away, you may experience neck, shoulder, back and hand pain. And, it can cause you to scoot backward or forward on your seat all the time. I'm wondering if in your quest to solve the hand pain you didn't relocate your saddle aft 'some' creating a longer reach, resulting in neck/ shoulder discomfort.

    Saddle to bar drop is a secondary possibility, but it's not a good idea to raise the bars too much, so I suggest first assessing whether your craning your neck to see 'down the road' before changing bar height. Something to consider if you wear glasses because you may be raising your head (rather than 'eyes up') looking through the lenses.

    As to form in general, besides the aforementioned craning, here are some things to keep in mind:
    - keep your upper torso relaxed, arms slightly bent
    - change hand position frequently (tops, bends, hoods, drops...)
    - keep a slightly loose grip on the bars (avoid the 'death grip')
    - keep forearms and hands aligned (don't twist at the wrist)
    - consider good quality gel gloves
    - consider installing good quality bar tape

    Not all are directly related to your specific issue, but important to remember.

    Lastly, remember that the longer the rides, the more important it becomes to either stop and do some neck/ shoulder 'rolls' or (if able and when safe to do so) do them on the bike. Similar to the above 'form' recommendations, they will serve to loosen up your upper torso keeping you fresher, longer.

    Still, IME the recipe for success is to start with a good fit, then develop/ maintain good form.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I was fitted to the bike, then mde some minor changes after riding for a while. I moved the seat forward a bit. I am not confident the guy who did my fitting was as knowledgable as he tried to present himself. Fortunately, my brother-in-law worked in a bike shop for years, before deciding he needed a better source of income for his family. He has offered to check the fit, if I bring the bike on a visit (they live in the next state). In the mean time, I will try to concentrate on my form while riding.

  8. #8
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    You have some good suggestions above. Another thing to look at is core strength. If your core is not strong enough to support your body in the cycling position, you might be carrying too much weight on your arms, which can lead to neck pain. Some core-strengthening exercises (pushups, planks, crunches, and the like) might help.

    Also, understand that a "bike fitting" is just a starting point, no matter how "professional". It is hardly unusual for people to make minor changes after a fitting. In fact, I find it encouraging that you aren't so overawed by the fitting process that you are afraid to fiddle. Many people are hesitant to try little changes in response to feedback from their bodies.






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  9. #9
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by D&MsDad View Post
    Y
    Also, understand that a "bike fitting" is just a starting point, no matter how "professional". It is hardly unusual for people to make minor changes after a fitting. In fact, I find it encouraging that you aren't so overawed by the fitting process that you are afraid to fiddle. Many people are hesitant to try little changes in response to feedback from their bodies.
    Define 'minor' and 'little'.

    While I'm not disagreeing that it's a plus for some to take ownership to their fit, ideally their level of ownership coincides with their level of knowledge - employing best practices for a given fit issue. There's no guarantee they'll always work, but the odds are better than winging it, hoping some tweak will.

    Some fixes being counter intuitive, it's not difficult to 'fiddle' and cause another fit issue. React to that and (possibly) cause another, ultimately losing track of key starting point parameters and needing another fitting. This happens, as a number of posts here will attest.

    Point is, I'd advise noobs (and even some more experienced riders) to proceed with caution, tracking any changes and keeping them small (in mm's). There's a valid reason why (on occasion) we seek out professional advice, and (IMO/E) bike fit is one of them.

  10. #10
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    My wife and I, both being beginners, experienced this same thing and we both had professional fittings done. They main cause seemed to be from not relaxing our arms and almost having the elbows locked out. Just adding a slight bend and keeping arms relaxed and the pain/discomfort is gone.

    I'm sure that we have also built up a tolerance for a biking position at the same time as our bodies weren't use to this position. We are avid mountain bikers but just one month into road biking.
    Last edited by ParadigmDawg; 08-28-2012 at 05:11 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352 View Post
    Define 'minor' and 'little'.

    While I'm not disagreeing that it's a plus for some to take ownership to their fit, ideally their level of ownership coincides with their level of knowledge - employing best practices for a given fit issue. There's no guarantee they'll always work, but the odds are better than winging it, hoping some tweak will.

    Some fixes being counter intuitive, it's not difficult to 'fiddle' and cause another fit issue. React to that and (possibly) cause another, ultimately losing track of key starting point parameters and needing another fitting. This happens, as a number of posts here will attest.

    Point is, I'd advise noobs (and even some more experienced riders) to proceed with caution, tracking any changes and keeping them small (in mm's). There's a valid reason why (on occasion) we seek out professional advice, and (IMO/E) bike fit is one of them.
    How long is a piece of string?

    My point was not that cyclists should not seek advice for physical issues that might have causes rooted in the fit. Nor that they should not seek advice if their attempts at "tweaking" don't work out. Nor that a cyclist should make major changes to their fit willy-nilly. My point was that a fit session is a starting point, not the be-all and end-all of the process of mating the bicycle to the rider. The mere fact that further tweaking was necessary after a fit does not necessarily mean that the fitter was/is incompetent. And that after a fit minor changes are sometimes needed, with or without further consultation with the fitter. Some issues might crop up only after some time, and cannot be resolved during a 2 hr fitting session that occurs at one point in the cyclists riding life. It should go without saying that understanding the starting point, i.e. the original fit measurements, is a prerequisite so that you can avoid losing track of one's starting point.

    Also, I would argue, riding on a stationary bike does not always precisely reproduce how an individual rides on the road so, again, tweaking might be necessary, even in mid-ride. After changing to a different type of saddle, for example, I went on a ride with a hex wrench, making adjustments as I went to find the correct position. I got close on my trainer, but had to "fiddle" out in the real world.

    Finally, yes experience is needed, but there is only one way to gain experience, and that is by trying things to see what works. Fitting theories are a great starting point, but the final fit must be arrived at empirically, and the fit may change over time.


    ----------------------

  12. #12
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    I think I am guilty of the locked elbow thing, too. I do change position pretty frequently. I'll just see how it goes.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGMDWK View Post
    I think I am guilty of the locked elbow thing, too. I do change position pretty frequently. I'll just see how it goes.
    This is a difficult diagnosis of an individual's immobility on the internet.

    First off, a congratulations on your heroic ambitions in cycling. The motion of cycling can be strenuous even though you're given the impression that it's just sitting while spinning a crank with legs in tiny circular patterns. You're provoking all types of blood circulation in areas where you haven't concentrated prior.

    I would ride for "time" and not for "distance" during your beginning phases. Set your mental state to "X" amount of time instead of "Y" amount of distance. You'll see over a period of months that aches and pains + numbness will subside. You're increasing a range of motion plus other things too, like rib cage expansion [from greater and deeper inhalations] you've perhaps forgotten about over the years. You have a lot to accustom oneself too.

    All I can say, take it all in stride. It's a great sport. You should join a club and ride with other cyclists so they can see your pedal stroke and position. I've found that when you ride with a group you can easily forget about time and really enjoy an over all experience of the sport itself.

    Really, it's a great thing to be out there on the bike. Glad to see an enthusiast such as yourself on these roads.

  14. #14
    Sweet Potato Kugel
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    And I've repped you, like everyone in the this thread should do too.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your input Eretz. The local club has a weekly beginners ride I was thinking of checking out.

  16. #16
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    Hell, I have been riding for years and ride many thousands of miles a year and sometimes my neck and back tightens up it i don't consciously take the time to move around and stretch while riding...for that matter, I am stiff and sore when I get out of bed in the morning until get up and start moving.

    I feel that the stiffness and tightness you are experiencing is being caused by cranking your neck back (possibly to see past the front of the helmet) maybe if you could raise the bars a bit until you acclimate, as well as looking up with your eyes rather than trying to tilt your head back

    SGMDWK, it takes more than 2 months to get it all dialed in and to build the stamina, you're doing a great job. BTW, you are a LITTLE older than me, but not that much!
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right......

  17. #17
    Sweet Potato Kugel
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    Quote Originally Posted by D&MsDad View Post
    Also, I would argue, riding on a stationary bike does not always precisely reproduce how an individual rides on the road so, again, tweaking might be necessary, even in mid-ride. After changing to a different type of saddle, for example, I went on a ride with a hex wrench, making adjustments as I went to find the correct position. I got close on my trainer, but had to "fiddle" out in the real world.
    It's both a learning lesson for rider and observer. This is why in my own commentary I had suggested that SGMDWK ride with other experienced club riders. They'll observe his position during rides especially over time. More eyes on you as you're riding can only aid those "real life" experiences.

    Core strength is an excellent point too. Over time fitness comes together with inspiration and motivation. This is why I emphasize riding with a group or at least riding with others who are more experienced members a few times in a week or month.

    I think it's all a plus.

  18. #18
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    I have a herniated disk in my neck. When i started riding, the next day I would wake up and have thee very worse case of migraine headaches ALL DAY LONG. Plus never pains too (extremely painful to turn my head even a cm).

    Remedy:
    Stretching before, during and after riding. Also I turned my head from side to side and down every 5 minutes or so during the ride. Still have discomfort, just a little. And no morning aches.

  19. #19
    Crash Test Dummy
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    Me too

    I am having pain im my neck after a 1 hr ride.

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