If you experience neck pain from riding, you are not alone. Thousands of us feel a strain in our upper back, shoulders, or neck while riding. Sometimes it’s just a simple annoyance, but if it worsens, it can end your riding days. That’s why it is important to address the issue of neck pain from riding right away, before it becomes more than just a minor aggravation.
The neck muscles are particularly prone to tension and aggravation. Perhaps you experience tension from sitting at your desk, working for long hours. Or you might notice tightness and muscle fatigue when you are experiencing stress. Well, motorcycle riders are prone to neck pain for these reasons, and also due to poor sport riding posture.
Tips to Cure Neck Pain from Riding a Motorcycle
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Neck pain and shoulder pain from riding often start as just a twinge every now and then, or some delayed soreness after extended rides. If you are new to riding, it may be that your muscles need to be stretched or strengthened. This fix is as simple as stretching your neck and shoulders both before and after a ride, and riding more regularly to help build muscles (I know, if only riding more regularly cured all your pains!).
Before and after each ride, shrug your shoulders eight or ten times, and then roll them both forwards and backwards. Be gentle with these movements, especially if you have been experiencing pain. If you feel any soreness or irritation upon stretching, do not push through.
If your pain is more significant, minor stretching is not going to do the trick. It is important to understand if there is an underlying issue. Make a visit with your local chiropractor for an examination. He can quickly determine if you are out of alignment or if you have neck/back/shoulder abnormalities that may be causing your neck pain from riding. Often, he can prescribe a number of exercises or even a brief course of physical therapy or massage to tend to the issue.
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Neck muscles are particularly prone to strain. Your neck supports your head and, if wearing a helmet, that is additional weight. Over the course of a long ride, that extra weight can produce a low level of strain. Sometimes you may not even feel the discomfort until the evening of or even the day after a ride.
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Often, neck pain from riding is due to pressure from the wind on you as you ride. That’s why it often helps to get a windshield and invest in a carbon fiber helmet. The combination of the two takes much of the weight, pressure, and stress off your neck and shoulders. Some bikers even swear that wearing a scarf around the neck makes a difference- though I admit I haven’t yet tried this particular technique.
If you are currently experiencing neck pain from riding, your physician may prescribe some anti-inflammatory pills and some muscle relaxants. When are muscles are irritated, we naturally keep them taut, which only intensifies the pain and irritation. In order for the muscles to heal, the body should be relaxed. Often, a heated blanket or warm compress against the neck can relax the muscles and lessen the strain.
Finally, I cannot say enough about good posture. If you are experiencing neck pain from your motorcycle (or pain in any other area of your body), the first thing you should do is examine your riding position. Whether you are on your bike, at the office, or driving a car, it is important to maintain good posture. Sit up high in your seat and lengthen the spine. Do not slump and, especially if you sit in front of a computer all day, do not bend at the neck to look down. Instead, focus on maintaining good posture and looking with your eyes, not your neck.
When on your motorcycle, assume a neutral position. Your riding posture is critical when it comes to alleviating and preventing muscle fatigue. Maintain an upright position and lean slightly forward to help prevent neck pain.
When it comes to resolving the problem for the long-term, meditation and yoga can both help. Both encourage stretching and relaxation which can ease neck pain and shoulder pain caused by muscle tension.
Neck pain from riding can be a real pain- but it need not interfere with your time on your motorcycle. Try out the tips included in the blog, and check with your physician if the pain is ongoing or does not get better. At Kass & Moses, the team behind 1-800-MOTORCYCLE, we are bikers ourselves. We take great pride in representing bikers who have been injured in motorcycle crashes. We also enjoy offering tips and techniques for riding, such as these tips on neck pain from riding.