Neck pain is a common complaint of many bikers. It can present as a dull ache that comes and goes on occasion or a progressive pain that worsens over time. Riding your bike should not be a painful experience, so if you are experiencing neck pain, it is a sign you need to make some changes.
Complaints of neck pain in bikers is common. This is because riding a bicycle causes you to put extra stress on the muscles of the neck. Often, neck pain begins as a minor ache during your ride. You shift and change position and experience a brief respite from the pain only to find it begins again minutes later. Damage and overuse injuries can occur if you along this pain to continue, so consider it a warning sign that something needs to be done!
Treatment for neck pain
If you are experiencing pain during or after your bike rides, begin by taking Ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory. Gently stretch the neck regularly to avoid stiffness, and apply warm compresses. Most pharmacies sell heat packs that you can place on the affected area and simply discard after use. Another option is a microwavable heat pack – just be sure not to make it too hot. Concentrate on relaxing the muscles of the shoulder and neck. If the pain persists or intensifies, make an appointment with your physician for further assessment.
How to avoid neck pain
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Many times, neck pain is the result of poor posture while cycling. Remember that your spine alignment while on your bicycle should be neutral. That means your chest should remain up and your chin should remain down. Your shoulders should be relaxed, not inching up towards your ears. A slight bend in your elbows should allow them to absorb some of the excess shock. Some bikers get in the habit of lifting their head to look way out in front of them. Try to avoid this maneuver as it is usually unnecessary and can place undue stress on the neck and shoulder area.
If your posture does not seem to be the problem, check out the fit of your bike. If the handlebars are too low, you will find yourself overextending your neck to see the road. Check the saddle tilt. A tilt that is too forward or too far back will cause flexion in the spine. Remember that your goal should be a straight alignment from the pelvis, up through the back, all the way to the neck.
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If you are prone to neck pain, try some stretching exercises before you ride. Gently and slowly circle your head all the way around clockwise and then counterclockwise. Tilt your head front and back, and left and right, avoiding any movement that causes strain or pain. Circle your shoulders and move them up and down and forward and back. Remember that neck pain often begins from stressing the shoulders and pulling them up.
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As a biker and a bicycle accident attorney, I know all too well the injuries that occur when riding. I am happy to share my understanding of these injuries with you, and ask that you keep me or any of the other experienced attorneys at Kass & Moses in mind should you be in a bicycle accident.