Cycling in Comfort: Easy Ways to Avoid Unnecessary Neck Pain
If by the end of your ride, your neck is absolutely killing you, then something is seriously wrong. Cycling should be a comfortable, pleasurable activity. If it's not, a number of things could be to blame.
Poor handle bar positioning
If your bars are set too low, then you could be hyperextending your neck to see the road. This causes excess fatigue in the cervical extensors. Overuse of these muscles for prolonged periods may result in chronic muscle micro tears, headaches and numbness or tingling into the hands.
Poor saddle positioning
If your seat is tilted too far forward, you'll place extra weight through your hands causing overuse in your trapezius and shoulder musculature. Likewise, a posterior tilt of the seat makes maintaining a neutral spine position nearly impossible. Your chin will poke forward to compensate for your poor pelvic and lumbar alignment, and neck pain will also result.
Improper helmet fit
In addition to not protecting your head properly, a cycling helmet that slides too far forward can cause you to hyperextend your neck in order to obtain a clear view of the road. Riders with a more aggressive style need to wear their helmets even further back on the head.
Improper glasses fit
Glasses that slip too far forward on your nose can also make you hyperextend your neck muscles in order to look through them rather than over them as you ride.
Overall poor fit of bike
Plain and simple, the frame of your bicycle must fit the dimensions of your body. This becomes even more critical for longer distance riders. Particularly if your bike frame is too long or too tall for you, it will be impossible to maintain the proper posture necessary to avoid chronic fatigue and injury especially in your neck.
The great news is that it often takes just minutes in the shop to make most of these adjustments in terms of bike, helmet and eyewear fitting. Poor riding habits can also be broken with just a little extra awareness.
(Photo of Cameron Meyer by The Wolf)
Good posture tips while riding:
- Relax your shoulders.
- Envision as straight a line as possible through your spine.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent, and let them work to absorb the shock of any bumps in the road.
- Clasp and unclasp your hands regularly to promote relaxation.
- Whenever it's safe to do so, gently stretch your neck to combat muscle fatigue.
- Fix your eyes a comfortable distance ahead of you down the road to watch for hazards.
Come see us in the shop with any questions. Bring along your bike and equipment; let us make sure all your gear fits you perfectly.
Love, Peace and Bicycle Grease,
Matt & Julie