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Neck & shoulder stiffness

Neck & shoulder stiffness

19 Aug 2009 15:43

Having started cycling more seriously only a month ago, I am just starting to feel comfortable on the bike. In a busy work week and with small children at home, I am trying to get 100 km in per week over three or four rides. Over the past few days, however, I've noticed that I have started developing some neck and shoulder stiffness, which—at its worst—can make turning my head to look over my shoulder a little uncomfortable. A combination of stretching, some heat, and ibuprofen seem to mitigate it, but I was hoping I might prevail upon more experienced riders for some help. Is this a bike fit issue? I move around a fair amount on the bike, with hands up and on the drops at various intervals. I don't get out of the saddle for any length of time—even on climbs—could this be a problem? The other thing I wondered is that I don't wear gloves when I ride and had noticed some discomfort in my palms from bumps in the road; is it possible that my neck and shoulders are absorbing more of that as I ride? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
User avatar Steampunk
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19 Aug 2009 17:14

I would suggest a proper bike fit from someone who has experience in bike fitting as a start. Our team has a great fitter who is certified from the Specialized Fit program, but there are always other options as well. There are also some great articles on proper ergonomics and bike riding form to help you become a better rider. You see many new riders riding stiff elbowed, which transmits road shock up their body and results in pain all along the chain, plus this form contributes to a much harder ability to "hold your line." If you are having true orthopedic issues, then a physician check-up is always suggested, since nobody can diagnose over a forum. Keep the rubber side down, enjoy your cycling and ride with those that are better than you to learn, but keep within your ability to be safe.
User avatar roadie
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19 Aug 2009 19:20

The previous poster made some very good suggestions.

In addition to that, find an experienced rider near you and ask them to go for a ride with you. They will be able to watch you on the bike and make some suggestions as you ride along together.

Having a fit done is a great idea if you want to improve comfort.

As far as neck and shoulder discomfort are concerned, there can be many causes of this. Please answer the following questions:

When did the pain start?

Does it occur only while riding or soon after?

Does the pain radiate down your arm?

Is you lack of ability to rotate your head symmetrical or more to one side?


Having an evaluation by a local chiropractor or physiotherapist is a good idea. A good one will be able to recommend tratments as well as give you specific exercise to do at home or in the gym to help your condition.
David Suro
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Location: Denver, Colorado

19 Aug 2009 22:57

David Suro wrote:The previous poster made some very good suggestions.

In addition to that, find an experienced rider near you and ask them to go for a ride with you. They will be able to watch you on the bike and make some suggestions as you ride along together.

Having a fit done is a great idea if you want to improve comfort.

As far as neck and shoulder discomfort are concerned, there can be many causes of this. Please answer the following questions:

When did the pain start?

Does it occur only while riding or soon after?

Does the pain radiate down your arm?

Is you lack of ability to rotate your head symmetrical or more to one side?


Having an evaluation by a local chiropractor or physiotherapist is a good idea. A good one will be able to recommend tratments as well as give you specific exercise to do at home or in the gym to help your condition.


i agree with all that has been said so far by all. i will add that sometimes
a rider will "hunch" their shoulders while riding, and not realize it. that will
cause the problem you are confronting as well. as david said, a training
partner can help with this by observation. it is also free, usually...:cool:
User avatar usedtobefast
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Location: southern california

20 Aug 2009 12:59

David Suro wrote:As far as neck and shoulder discomfort are concerned, there can be many causes of this. Please answer the following questions:

When did the pain start?

Does it occur only while riding or soon after?

Does the pain radiate down your arm?

Is you lack of ability to rotate your head symmetrical or more to one side?


Thanks, all, for your replies and suggestions. In answer to the questions above:

1. I noticed a bit of stiffness after a couple of weeks of riding, but nothing a couple of twists of the torso on the bike couldn't address.

2. It definitely seems to be the product of riding. Arms and shoulders felt a bit tight toward the ends of rides, then I woke up with stiffness the next morning.

3. No pain radiating. It feels more like knots in the shoulder/neck area.

4. It does seem to be a little more uncomfortable turning to the left. I should stress that I don't feel immobile or anything, but a quick shoulder check on the bike was rather uncomfortable.
User avatar Steampunk
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22 Aug 2009 14:34

i agree with most of the above statements. I am suggesting that you get involved with stretching , slowly at first. find a good stretching program and read read read. Brad walker has a stretching web page and books and dvd's. There is the standard stretching book by the Andersons.
good luck
Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades. - Eddy Merckx
User avatar quadsRme
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22 Aug 2009 15:25

Stretching is for girls, just take the pain you will harden up eventually like a real man.

I am just kidding :)

All the problems I encountered came from altering my original fit so I also recommend getting one even though I originally slated it when I realised a different position made me go faster.

Also pain is never good but you can console yourself in that you don't have any knee pain, compared to the onset of stiffness in the neck that's the real killer forcing you to stay indoors on a nice sunny day.
User avatar cromagnon
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22 Aug 2009 18:54

Well, the thing is I do stretch before and after workouts and extensively after rides. In the past I've wrestled with lower back pain, which stemmed from tight hips and hamstrings; I've learned that stretching isn't optional. Jumper's knee made me give up running a year or so ago, but I've learned to look after that and it's never been a problem on the bike.

I've set up a fitting with my local bike shop and will do that next week. I have noticed that my arms are not very relaxed when I ride, too.
User avatar Steampunk
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Location: Subpoenaed in Texas, Sequestered in Memphis

23 Aug 2009 12:15

Steampunk wrote:Well, the thing is I do stretch before and after workouts and extensively after rides. In the past I've wrestled with lower back pain, which stemmed from tight hips and hamstrings; I've learned that stretching isn't optional. Jumper's knee made me give up running a year or so ago, but I've learned to look after that and it's never been a problem on the bike.

I've set up a fitting with my local bike shop and will do that next week. I have noticed that my arms are not very relaxed when I ride, too.


I agree with all of what's been said (esp. the part about getting a fitting). I'd also point out that hhhhhhholding your noggin up as you ride a bike is not something you do in the rest of your life. I've heard more than a few new riders complain of this. For me, the solution was to get in the gym and do shoulder shrugs with weights. It's no longer a problem
grumpyphil
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