How to Prevent Neck and Upper Back Pain for Cyclists

In the cycling world there are many common injuries seen on a day to day basis. Some of these injuries come from the repetative motions but others come from the bad posture, body mechanics and positioning. 

Cycling is an activity that requires you to maintain a position in which your back is flexed for long periods of time, placing great demands on your neck. Which in turn not only causes neck pain but trickles down into the upper back as well. 

As most of us are not professional cyclists and simply weekend warriors just trying to get out there and have some fun, we may not know-how to properly set up a bike (positioning on the bike, bike, peddle and seat height, proper technique, etc.) and that could attribute to these injuries which are preventable. 

On top of improper positioning and bike set-up, most of us have a 9-5 type job that requires staring at a computer for 4 to 8 hours a day, which is the perfect storm - otherwise known as a desk jockey! 

When we are riding a bike we are in a hunched position, where our torso is bent forward over the knees and our head has to extend in order for us for us to be able to see the road in front of us. This is an unnatural position but it shouldn't cause pain, so if you are experiencing pain in this position it is most likely an indication you should correct the your bike set-up. These problems are aggravated further while biking because we are stressing the same structures (upper back and neck) after sitting improperly at work. 

But how can we fix this? 

If you are experiencing these issues, dont panic! There is a solution and it is usually quite simple (always taking into consideration that there is no structural damage). We must correct your posture at work and your positioning on the bike and that is possible with an Ergonomic Assessment (read our blog post on Ergonomics 101 for more information) and a proper Bike Fitting Assessment. 

Sometimes the solution is as simple as changing the height and angle of your seat and handle bars as this will change your positioning on the bike and wont require too much mechancial work. High handle bars and seat that is either too high or too low will have an impact on the structures of your body. 

Like an Erognomic Assessment, the key piece of a Bike Fitting Assessment is to ensure your body is properly aligned. If you engage in a Bike Fitting Assessment without this, your bike will be fitted to the incorrect body position and your pain may disipate temporarily but long term will only cause more damage. That is the Honsberger difference, the focus on the biomechanical nature of injuries and how to treat the cause not simply focusing on the symptoms. When the body is in balance, you set the proper foundation for building enhanced performance!

Prevention: 

Seeing the nature, dynamic and consuquences of this type of injury the best course of action is a full body bioemchanical evaluation to identify areas of weakness, corrective therapy (if necessary), education and a home exercise plan. Stretching and mobilizing those muscles that become tight over time from the repetative movements and prolonged bad posture is imparative. We must mobilize before we strengthen, or we will never be able to maintain proper positioning. The best way to stretch and mobilize the the thoracic and cervical spine, chest and pectoral muscles is to use the Posture Arch, which can be purchased on here. We want to make you active participants in your care plan by giving you knowledge and the tools to help you integrate a customized program into your everyday life. This will help to idenitfy when your body is out of balance and properly use the tools to bring the body back into balance and a neutral position. Once we are mobile we can properly build strength to maintain proper posture and body position during work and play! 

Interested in learning more about our Bike Fitting Assessments? Drop us a line at programs@honsbergerphysioplus.com.

R.M.T Osvaldo 'Ozy' Bolanos

Building A Better You

Orthopedic Rehabilitation
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