Cycling neck pain is a problem that strikes amateur and experienced cyclists, alike. Cycling puts an unnatural stress on the back and neck. Over time, this stress can lead to discomfort and even injury. It can generally be remedied by making small adjustments to your bike or your posture. Now, let’s address how to soothe this nagging pain.
Neck pain from cycling usually begins with a slight soreness or a feeling of tension in the muscles of the neck. If you stop cycling at this point, you may never notice the irritation again. But if you continue to ride, you will likely find that the pain intensifies. Some cyclists feel the pain as they ride, while others don’t feel much discomfort until after they are off the bike.
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Cycling neck pain is usually caused by tension or slight damage to the trapezius muscles. It can be caused by improper handlebar height or improper posture on the bike. Do not assume that pain in your neck muscles after cycling is normal. Your neck should support the weight of your head without discomfort. If you are in pain, something is wrong.
At the first signs of neck pain, stop riding. Continuing to cycle when you are in pain is a surefire way to exacerbate your injury. Stay off the bike until the pain has resolved, and discontinue riding if it recurs. Although home treatments may be adequate to relieve the pain and help you recover, you may need to visit your physician if the pain continues or if you develop swelling, discoloration, or redness.
In addition to resting your neck (by not cycling), you should apply ice or cool compresses to the area. Do not put ice directly on the skin. Instead, wrap an ice-pack in a towel and place on the neck for about 20 minutes, three times a day. This should help reduce the swelling and the pain.
Continue to apply ice for the first three days. After three days, apply heat to your neck. Use warm compress or disposable heating wraps that you can get at the pharmacy.
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Take ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory to relieve your neck pain. These medications relieve pain and reduce swelling. Analgesics like Tylenol can be taken, as well, but be sure to follow dosage guidelines on the bottle. Some of these medications can cause stomach irritation. If you experience stomach pain or diarrhea, discontinue use and switch to a different type of pain reliever.
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Even though you should be resting your neck, you want to stretch through a range of motions to keep it from becoming stiff. Slowly stretch your neck so that your ear moves towards your shoulder. Then repeat from on the opposite side. Next, gently bend your neck forward, moving your chin towards your chest. Then, allow your neck to slowly rise and move backwards so that you are looking up at the ceiling.
These gentle movements help retain a full range of motion, while not placing additional stress on the muscles of the neck. Finally, slowly and gently, rotate your neck around, from your chin being on your chest, around in a slow, clockwise motion. Repeat these stretches several times a day.
Deep neck massage can be helpful, as well, but should only be administered by a professional. They can apply pressure to the neck, shoulders, and base of the skull that can lead to a reduction in pain.
Consult your physician if your neck pain worsens or is not gone in several weeks. Sometimes a course of physical therapy is prescribed in order to rehabilitate the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
To avoid cycling neck pain, make sure you maintain proper posture while on your bike. If you find, as some people do, that they struggle to maintain their posture when they are fatigued, try riding for shorter periods of time until you develop the stamina for longer rides. Stretch your neck gently using the exercises described above both before and after you ride.
If you continue to have neck irritation and pain following your rides, you should probably take your bicycle in for a proper bike fit with a professional. Although this can be a little expensive, the relief from discomfort is priceless! In addition, you may find that you shave a few seconds off your ride, simply because your body is positioned correctly.
Remember that if your pain worsens, you experience numbness or tingling in your hands or fingers, or the pain radiates up to your head, you should contact a physician. Most cases of cycling neck pain can be relieved at home, but some may signify a more serious issue.
At Kass & Moses, we take cycling injuries seriously. Every day we handle cases of cyclists who have been injured in bicycle crashes. These injuries range from mild to life-shattering, and each client has their own personal story to tell. We work directly with our clients to help them get the money they deserve to recover from their injuries.
Even seemingly minor injuries can mean major life changes. We take your health and wellbeing seriously and put you first. We’ll deal with the insurance company and help get you the settlement you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.