Avoiding and fixing cyclist neck and shoulder pain

Bikewagon Community College

Unfortunately, cycling can sometimes cause pain and health issues. Discomfort in the neck and shoulder area is one of the more common ailments facing cyclists, but fortunately most people can fix these problems with a few simple techniques. Let's learn about them.

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Causes of neck pain

Neck pain is usually caused by some sort of issue with posture or riding position. This can be fixed by riding a cycle that has been fitted to your body by a professional who understands body mechanics. In general, your back should be arched when you ride your bike. Your elbows should have a slight bend in them, and your shoulders should be active, so that the muscles in your back and chest can engage and hold you in position.

Neck pain can also be caused by a poorly adjusted helmet that forces you to tilt your head back sharply or by sunglasses that constantly slip down your nose and force you into an uncomfortable head position.

Causes of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is largely caused by the same issues as neck pain: bad posture and/or a poorly fitting bike. Read the previous section on body positioning.

Other shoulder issues can be caused by an improperly angled saddle; if your saddle is tilted too far forward, your weight shifts increasingly onto your hands and shoulders and can cause issues. Your seat should be flat or very slightly angled downwards to relieve pressure.

Fixing the problem

If your posture is causing issues, go to a bike shop to get some pointers about proper body positioning. Take your bike with you, because you may need to make some adjustments (over even get a new frame) if there are problems with the cycle not matching your body.

If your helmet or glasses are causing neck pain, re-adjust or replace these items to get rid of the problem. Even if they aren't causing pain now, they could in the future. In the same vein, if your saddle is pointing too far downwards, angle it back to flat to relieve pressure on your shoulders.

Some shoulder issues can be encountered by people with different length arms. In this case, it may be beneficial to mount your handlebars slightly off center to allow for this difference. Ask a professional or an expert friend for assistance, as setting your handlebars improperly could cause a serious crash.