Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    9

    neck, shoulder, and upper back pain

    I have been riding my Cannondale Synapse 56cm for several years now. Over the last six or so months, upper back, neck and shoulders have become increasingly sore during rides over 35 miles. Now it is to the point where upper back and shoulders and neck are sore all of the time. I have had to discontinue riding for the time being. Am doing yoga physical therapy to improve upper back flexibility as I have a curved upper back and I must crane my neck even when riding on the tops of handlebars or on the hoods, forget about the drops. Have tried a 45 stem but even that feels uncomfortable because it brings the handlebars closer to the seat does not extend forward enough for me to stretch out to my liking. My old 8 degree 110mm stem feels better, even though its lower. But either way, I can't ride with this pain..
    I am 5-10 and conventional wisdom says that a 56 CM is my correct frame size. I must do something to get my riding position more upright. Even with the 45 stem, handlebars are still below level of the seat. I thought of getting a fork with 300 or 330 mm steerer order to get position of high enough. The problem with that would seem to be that I would need to use too many Shims between the stem and the steer tube.
    The fact that I am 54 years old has me thinking that maybe I need to either hang it up or ride one of those comfort bikes. I'd have to swallow some serious pride to be seen on one of those.
    Another option might be to try a larger frame bike that wouldn't require the seatpost to be raised so high and could ride in a more upright position.
    Hopefully someone here has some helpful and encouraging words of wisdom. I really want to ride again but it just hurts too much right now.
    Thanks,

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    15
    Have you had X-rays of your upper back and neck to make sure you don't have some skeletal issues or degenerative discs? If your pain is simply muscular, I would say that it might be worth it to look into some good deep tissue massage to break down those muscles so that they are loose when you ride. Also, you might not be focusing on your posture enough when you ride. It's easy to let your shoulders rise and put a lot of muscular stress on yourself if your not careful.

    Getting old sucks, there's no two ways around it. But I sure wouldn't go down without a fight!

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,489
    I'm 62 and have averaged 5,000 miles a year for the last 22 years. About 4 months ago I started having shoulder issues (both sides) as in it really hurts when I try to reach my jersey pockets. No I don't have an answer but do have some sympathy for getting old.
    Of course that's why some bikes were created. The Roubaix and Cervelo RS are designed to get you more upright. But I hope you weren't referring to these as comfort bikes as in they can't compete. They can and do.
    So figure out what you need to do and keep riding. You may have to cut back on your mileage for awhile so your pain will start to go away. I'm hoping warmer weather will help.

  4. #4
    Cycling induced anoesis
    Reputation: PJ352's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    12,490
    If I'm reading your post correctly, you prefer a stem that allows more reach (yet you're positioned lower) to one that allows for a more upright position, but with shorter reach. If that's the case, I suggest trying a longer stem with a higher rise (than the 8 degree).

    Also, for awhile, keep the rides shorter in duration (but frequent) and moderate in intensity. Do some pre-ride stretches and change positions during your rides.

    http://centurycycles.com/page.cfm?pageID=219

    FWIW, I'm 58 and ride a Tarmac with a very moderate 5.5cm saddle to bar drop.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    166

    Ahhh yes this is familiar....

    and requires much devotion to corrective activity. I look much like the OP in that a Synapse (56 cm) is one of my rides and that I'm also 5'10". I sought medical help a few yrs ago for a similar ailment where neck, shoulder, arms and hands are affected. Turns out it's very common and requires no serious medical intervention nor much change in position when riding. Though I would seriously look into getting a Look Ergostem for an infinite amount of adjustability in the front end. Somewhat heavy and expensive, but worth every gram and dime for us 55+ yo riders. I would not dissuade you from a medical check up with an orthopaedic guy as well. In its more serious form, the discomfort radiates from the central upper back along the shoulder line and down the arm. I also ended up with numbness in a couple of fingers. In fact, I'm in the midst of another recurrent episode as I speak--it's been 5 weeks now and I've been very lax in delving into my full array of exercises to alleviate the symptoms.
    I got a book from my MD which outlines a series of exercises which are designed to loosen up the muscles and which, when done consistently and for a few weeks, will cause the pain/numbness to gradually move further up the arm and shoulder until it once again centralizes in the mid-upper back. With continuous exercises and commitment, the centralized pain will slowly dissipate and vanish completely. If a recurrence begins to appear, immediate exercise regime will stop the radiating symptoms and will allow for resolution in short order.
    The exercise plan may possibly be found by a search on line for the (Robin) McKenzie Plan. Most orthopaedic MDs should be aware of it and can certainly assist with a definitive diagnosis as well.
    Do NOT give up on cycling OR your favorite machine!!! It can and MUST be fixed! The Ergostem is a vital piece of equipment for all of my bikes and I have many at this point. Weight weenies will shudder and collapse into a point of singularity (black hole) at the thought of utilizing a 365 g stem, but it's been a life saver for me. The bike should be fine (with possibly minor corrections), and the geometry is also going to be no problem. The issue is strictly medical (I think) and CAN be addressed and corrected with proper direction and commitment. I would think physical therapy/accupuncture could also be implemented, but it seems to me the solution can be found with proper exercise and attention.
    I hope this helps...good luck little grasshopper,
    NR
    P.S. Disclaimer: I have no financial association with the Aussie MD I mentioned above.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    166

    More info davo...

    Here's 2 corrections and a bit more info--actually Robin McKenzie is a Kiwi (not an Aussie) and he's not an MD, but rather a physical therapist I believe. The publication I use is called "Treat Your Own Neck" (1983) and outlines a series of useful exercises for eliminating neck/shoulder pain. It helps to have an initial diagnosis also, to be sure it's nothing serious or major. Hope this helps. Good luck. NR

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1
    I have been riding my Cannondale Synapse 56cm for several years now. Over the last six or so months, upper back, neck and shoulders have become increasingly sore during rides over 35 miles. Now it is to the point where upper back and shoulders and neck are sore all of the time. I have had to discontinue riding for the time being. Am doing yoga physical therapy to improve upper back flexibility as I have a curved upper back and I must crane my neck even when riding on the tops of handlebars or on the hoods, forget about the drops. Have tried a 45 stem but even that feels uncomfortable because it brings the handlebars closer to the seat does not extend forward enough for me to stretch out to my liking. My old 8 degree 110mm stem feels better, even though its lower. But either way, I can't ride with this pain..
    I am 5-10 and conventional wisdom says that a 56 CM is my correct frame size. I must do something to get my riding position more upright. Even with the 45 stem, handlebars are still below level of the seat. I thought of getting a fork with 300 or 330 mm steerer order to get position of high enough. The problem with that would seem to be that I would need to use too many Shims between the stem and the steer tube.
    The fact that I am 54 years old has me thinking that maybe I need to either hang it up or ride one of those comfort bikes. I'd have to swallow some serious pride to be seen on one of those.
    Another option might be to try a larger frame bike that wouldn't require the seatpost to be raised so high and could ride in a more upright position.
    Hopefully someone here has some helpful and encouraging words of wisdom. I really want to ride again but it just hurts too much right now.
    Thanks,
    How long is your back pain now. My God hope this is not what to my friend. My friend was suffered back pain he thinks that it's just an ordinary back pain unfortunately the goes on for almost 1 month so he decided to go to hospital and check up it and the result is a fracture of his low vertebrae. So I recommend just consult it to the doctor but there are also other that gives tutorial how to relief that pain.
    "Don't think twice! Choose the wise!"
    Back Pain Winchester

  8. #8
    Not Banned
    Reputation: atpjunkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    42,884
    neck, should, upper back pain typically means you aren't bending at the pelvis
    you are getting yourself low by making an arch in your back. You then compensate by reverse craning your neck so you can see. You are essentially putting an S in your spine
    learn to lean forward at the hips with a flat back first. See if that helps
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    692
    Agree with ATP. My personal opinion u have a style problem and w/o seeing you is hard to know what can be wrong.

    Anyhow, it could be your sadlle the problem also.

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    381
    Ive been dealing with this same issue. Changed from my CAAD7 to a System Six and upped my training at the same time....trouble knowing if the pain is from one or both situations.

    I did notice my new bike places me in a more aggressive position. Stem length is the same but is flat compared to a bit of a rise on my other bike.

    I added a 10mm spacer to get me up a bit more. It may sound funny, and maybe its all in my head.....but that 10mm had taken a good deal of pressure off my hands and my neck pain that was traveling right down my back to my shoulder is going away now.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: looigi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    6,315
    I'm pushing 60 and am finding lower bars are better for me. I've recently gone from the top of the bars at 6 cm below the top of the saddle, which I've ridden for years, to 11 cm below and find my back is much happier. A lot depends on the individual and how they ride so can't say whether or not this is the right direction anybody, just don't automatically rule it out as a possible solution.

  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: AlexCad5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    1,551
    My father (74) had both shoulders replaced. A couple of years before, my friend who is a Chiropractor told him his shoulder pain was caused by fibrosis and it could be treated by stretching. My dad told him it was too painful to stretch.
    I started having some shoulder pain when sleeping, and it had progressed to the point I couldn't get a good night sleep. My friend told me to stretch. I did and my shoulder pain went away. At that time, my friend said that if my dad had worked through the pain of stretching, he wouldn't have had both shoulders surgeries.

    The two stretches that helped me, though there are many more I'm sure: reaching as high up a wall as you are physically able to, and then reach higher. hold.
    Also putting a hand against the wall, elbow up, and twisting at the waist.

    Fibrosis of muscle tissue is very common. Perhaps more common than not having fibrosis. When you get a massage, and they say you are really tight. That's fibrosis. The act of deep tissue massage helps break that fibrosis down, or so I understand.

    See a Chiropractor!

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    316
    Quote Originally Posted by davo55 View Post
    I have been riding my Cannondale Synapse 56cm for several years now. Over the last six or so months, upper back, neck and shoulders have become increasingly sore during rides over 35 miles. Now it is to the point where upper back and shoulders and neck are sore all of the time. I have had to discontinue riding for the time being. Am doing yoga physical therapy to improve upper back flexibility as I have a curved upper back and I must crane my neck even when riding on the tops of handlebars or on the hoods, forget about the drops. Have tried a 45 stem but even that feels uncomfortable because it brings the handlebars closer to the seat does not extend forward enough for me to stretch out to my liking. My old 8 degree 110mm stem feels better, even though its lower. But either way, I can't ride with this pain..
    I am 5-10 and conventional wisdom says that a 56 CM is my correct frame size. I must do something to get my riding position more upright. Even with the 45 stem, handlebars are still below level of the seat. I thought of getting a fork with 300 or 330 mm steerer order to get position of high enough. The problem with that would seem to be that I would need to use too many Shims between the stem and the steer tube.
    The fact that I am 54 years old has me thinking that maybe I need to either hang it up or ride one of those comfort bikes. I'd have to swallow some serious pride to be seen on one of those.
    Another option might be to try a larger frame bike that wouldn't require the seatpost to be raised so high and could ride in a more upright position.
    Hopefully someone here has some helpful and encouraging words of wisdom. I really want to ride again but it just hurts too much right now.
    Thanks,
    Been there... (I'm 58 with LOTS of back and elbow problems)
    Typically you can get up to 4 cm of spacers below your stem... try to get the bars level with your saddle.
    Yoga/flexibility/stretching is good. try to do 3 times/week or after every ride
    Strengthen your abs and upper body (shoulders, arms, chest). Mix free weights or any strength program with your riding.
    I'm 5-10 also, but ended changing from 56 to 58; I was actually too cramped on the 56 and bars are higher on the 58. This way I can stretch out and carry more upper weight with my abs, reducing arm, elbow pain....
    Have a new fit and see what they say...
    good luck

  14. #14
    kvo
    kvo is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    7
    Maybe your pain isn't muscular... go to a doctor, and start taking glucosamine, good for joints.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

2015 LIGHTS SHOOTOUT

Hot Deals See All Hot Deals >>

Interbike Featured Booths

Check out the hottest road bike products from these brands!



















See All Interbike Coverage - Click Here »


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook