Neck pain when cycling is – well, a pain in the neck. Improper posture when cycling can put unnecessary strain on the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back resulting in neck pain. This can cause even the most avid biker to avoid cycling. Fortunately there are a number of solutions to avoid neck pain when cycling.
Solutions to Avoid Neck Pain When Cycling
If you are experiencing twinges of pain that lets up as soon as you finish riding, chances are you can solve the problem simply by changing your posture on your bike. When riding, relax your shoulders and allow them to fall naturally downwards. Make sure your spine is aligned from your hips to your neck, and avoid hyperextending your neck. When you crane your neck upwards, you put strain on the neck muscles. At first, it feels painless, but over time you will strain the muscles and develop an ache in your neck. Instead of craning your neck to look ahead, simply look ahead with your eyes.
Perhaps your neck pain began as a minor twinge, but now you are experiencing more chronic pain. If your pain persists for hours or more after you ride, you should consider consulting a physician. For home remedies, take anti-inflammatories, rest the muscles of the neck, and avoid riding for a few days. This will give the muscles some time to heal before you stress them again. In the meantime, you should consider your positioning on your bike. If your handlebars are too low, for example, your arms and shoulders are pulled at too intense an angle. This can stress the muscles of the upper back and in turn, the neck. Consider using a stem spacer or adaptor to adjust and extend your handlebar height.
Our muscles naturally tighten and stiffen as we ride. Fatigue sets in and, as a result, we tense our muscles. Practice riding with a relaxed body position. One way to ensure your shoulders are relaxed is to quickly tense your shoulders and then allow them to fall naturally down. Your elbows should be bent slightly and relaxed. Your wrists should have some flexibility. In addition, adjust your grip periodically to avoid inadvertently tightening your arm muscles.
It's important to remember that neck pain can actually be cause by improper positioning and stress throughout the upper body, not just the neck. Both stretching and strengthening the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and upper back all help to prevent neck pain. Stretch for a few minutes both before and after your ride. This will help increase flexibility and avoid pain.
If you have developed pain when cycling, but it lets up afterwards, it’s time to make some changes before the pain progresses. Consider taking your bike to a shop for a proper fit. A poor fit can cause pain that begins in the neck and progresses throughout your body. As your neck heals, take a low dose of anti-inflammatories before your ride to avoid any swelling. When we feel pain and tension in our muscles, we naturally tense them. Unfortunately this increases the stress on the muscles and can result in improper body positioning and increased strain. It’s a Catch 22 and one you simply must prevent. A dose of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories helps you break this cycle as your work to avoid further stress and strain.
Be sure your helmet is properly fitted. A helmet that has too much give, doesn’t fit the head properly, or isn’t properly adjusted can contribute to stiffness. Your helmet should be secure against your head and should sit level on your head. The strap should be snug but comfortable. Adjust the fit pads to customize the shape to your head. Some helmets are heavier than others, so shop for one that balances comfort and protection.
If you are experiencing neck pain when cycling and have ruled out other causes, visit a physician or chiropractor. Although generally neck pain is related to muscular stress and poor positioning, ongoing pain should never be ignored. Your physician can assess your condition and determine if additional testing or therapy is warranted.
No one wants to experience pain when cycling, but for those who have been involved in a bicycle crash, sometimes ongoing pain is inevitable. Bicycle crashes can result in devastating injuries that can impact your life and livelihood. If you have been involved in a bike crash, don’t go it alone. Instead, call upon an experienced bicycle crash lawyer like the team at Kass & Moses. Insurance companies do not have your best interests in mind. They are simply trying to pay out as little as possible. It’s important to have someone on your side to help you recover from your crash. Contact Kass & Moses with any questions you may have.