Next in our series, we analyse how shoulder and neck pain can develop from cycling. Cycling and triathlons are getting more and more popular and bring a whole new range of issues with them as you don’t only have to worry about how you move your body, but also whether your bike is suitable for you.
Some of the most common issues when cycling revolve around your scapula-thoracic joint, which is a pseudo-joint formed by how your shoulder blade sits on your ribcage. Muscle imbalances and incorrect positions can cause improper movement at the shoulder joint and lead to rotator cuff pathologies as we examined in our previous blogs.
Inability to position the shoulders efficiently can manifest as discomfort reducing performance at first, and lead to injury.
Some effects of poor shoulder position and stability are: rotator cuff strains; increased tension in the neck causing strains and headaches; compression of the blood supply to the arm and hands; increased pressure on the carpal tunnels in the wrists causing pain, numbness and tingling in the wrists and hands.
The most common causes of shoulder and neck pain while cycling are:
- Incorrect Bike Fitting: if your bike has not been fitted to suit your body, or if you only had a basic fitting at the shop, your bike may not be ideal for your body. Specialised centres can help you make sure you align your body to the bike to increase your output, reduce the stress on your joints and muscles, therefore improving performance.Common issues are:
- A saddle that doesn’t fit your height, too loose or tilted
- Handlebars not adjusted to your arm reach
- Misaligned bike pedals
- Poor Bike Posture: sitting up too straight or bending too far forward can place unnecessary strains on both shoulders and lower back. Letting your body ‘drop’ in your shoulders can create neck and upper body pain. Additional problems can arise from riding too rigidly as this will reduce shock absorption. The main issue with poor bike posture is that it accentuates a poor forward head desk bound posture.
- Lack of Core Strength: poor core strength will translate in poor positioning, affecting lower back, hip flexors and shoulder position too.
Start by following these simple steps:
- Relax your grip to ease off the muscle tension on your forearms and wrists.
- Slightly bend your elbows to improve shock absorption
- Keep your shoulders away from your ears to improve upper body muscles recruitment and shoulder position.
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