Neck pain - no matter the position

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Miles253
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:32 am

by Miles253

Hi All,

I've always suffered from neck pain when riding, through my entire riding career and on very few ocassions have I actually got rid of it. I'm trying to pinpoint where it originates from and if it's solvable through a means other than a bike fit - as i've had many.

So some context. After about 50-60km I'll start to get some discomfort in my neck, normally regardless of the ride, or the bike. I've had bikes of various sizes, reaches, drops and nothing seems to have solved it. I am reasonably flexibile, can touch the toes for example. I'm 6' 3" (192cm), saddle height of 85cm.

Image of me on my racier bike, obviously I am not always trying to get aero and I still have discomfort. This is an XL Canyon...not sure what size that is, 60?
https://www.instagram.com/p/BubxR2SB38I/

• Can this be solved/helped by position? If so is it a longer/ shorter stem or more stack?
• Can this be solved by strength training? Is it a core weakness or a shoulder weakness putting pressure on the smaller neck muscles?

Any insight I can attain would be helpful. Looking to buy a new bike this year and don't want to punt for the smaller frame size if it could be a fit issue (bike fits have always told me I should be on a 58/59) instead i'll go for the bigger option, so a 60/61 in my case.

Thanks!
Rose Backroad 9kg
Canyon CF SL 7.5kg

https://www.findyourroad.co.uk/
Instagram: @miles_bc

by Weenie


zefs
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

Neck pain can be caused by many variables. On that particular position it could be a too low front end, because it's visible you have trouble looking forward on that position which puts pressure on the neck area. It can also be caused by over-reaching to the handlebars although your reach seems good in my opinion.

Another reason is saddle pressure, when the front end is low and you slide forward on the saddle the pressure on the saddle area causes our back to flex (to avoid the pressure). When you flex your spine and your pelvis is not stable/relaxed on the saddle it puts tention in the neck area as well.

If you are tall the saddle height is big, so equally you need a high front end.
Again in my opinion it would be a position issue, but exercises would help as well. Pro's do a lot off the bike work and their extra power on the legs help them unweight the upper body too, which allows them to ride in more aero positions (they can also ride custom geometry frames which would be different than production models that are sold as far as I know).

About the new bike size, it depends because a 58 with race geometry would be different to 58 with endurance geometry etc.
58-59 sounds small for your height, but it's tricky because as I mentioned geometry, body proportions/flexibility, riding goals all play a role.

Miles253
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:32 am

by Miles253

zefs wrote:Neck pain can be caused by many variables. On that particular position it could be a too low front end, because it's visible you have trouble looking forward on that position which puts pressure on the neck area. It can also be caused by over-reaching to the handlebars although your reach seems good in my opinion.

Another reason is saddle pressure, when the front end is low and you slide forward on the saddle the pressure on the saddle area causes our back to flex (to avoid the pressure). When you flex your spine and your pelvis is not stable/relaxed on the saddle it puts tention in the neck area as well.

If you are tall the saddle height is big, so equally you need a high front end.
Again in my opinion it would be a position issue, but exercises would help as well. Pro's do a lot off the bike work and their extra power on the legs help them unweight the upper body too, which allows them to ride in more aero positions (they can also ride custom geometry frames which would be different than production models that are sold as far as I know).

About the new bike size, it depends because a 58 with race geometry would be different to 58 with endurance geometry etc.
58-59 sounds small for your height, but it's tricky because as I mentioned geometry, body proportions/flexibility, riding goals all play a role.
Thanks for the reply, great feedback.

I'm terms of flexibility, an idea where they key points are for weakness? I.e. neck flexibility, hips or hamstrings etc? Where are the biggest limiters?

I've ridden bigger frames than this, but have never managed to alleviate the pain. Equally I've ridden with much less saddle-bar drop and the same issue. If we assume that the drop is the issue, which areas do you think I should work on to compensate?

That's why I lean towards a core weakness and the potential main cause? Fyi I ride a Power saddle normally to alleviate the pressure of rotating forward. In the picture below, I'm not riding a power - trying something else - and the difference in my position is noticeable.

CheersImageImageImage

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Rose Backroad 9kg
Canyon CF SL 7.5kg

https://www.findyourroad.co.uk/
Instagram: @miles_bc

zefs
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

There are flexibility exercises for cyclists on the web, so you can add that to your schedule.
I also had the same issues with neck pain and my solution was to shift more weight to the back (because I ride a smaller frame and racing geometry) of the bike and bring the handlebar up and closer to me (to not over reach). If you move the saddle back it goes up (about 1mm for 3mm of movement backwards) as well so you need to lower it to achieve the same knee angle, if you had your bike fit recently maybe the fitter would be able to do those adjustments based on your feedback.

Try to relax your upper body when riding and use your eyes to look up on the road instead of raising your neck also helps, if you don't want to use a more upright position. Again to be able to relax the upper body the saddle area should be set correctly, so adjustments start there.

iheartbianchi
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:17 am

by iheartbianchi

It my experience that's just unfortunately a function of having a low front-end / high drop. Obviously tilting your head up to look down the road makes it much worse, but it doesn't look like you do that. But even when you don't, your neck muscles are propping up your head so they're under constant strain. The only thing I heard that helps is shoulder and neck exercises.

One of the bummers of slamming your stem!
Bianchi Oltre XR4
Celeste Matte
Campy SR 11spd mechanical
Bora Ultra 50 tubs
Viseon 5D / stock bits and parts

Bianchi Specialissima Pantani Edition
Campy SR / Chorus 11spd mechanical
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gurk700
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:40 pm

by gurk700

Yoga.
Chiropractor visit.

Might not be due to your bike position alone. Just cause you don't feel it just sitting around in day to day life doesn't mean there isn't a problem there.
I have the same issue. I first noticed it in moto racing. After a few hours my neck/very upper back area would be on fire. Like a pinched nerve. Through stretching the area and warming it up pre riding I got rid of a lot of it but it's still not completely gone.
I'm seriously going in for a chiropractor adjustment cause I'm pretty sure something is pressing on the nerves. It's not severe but it's there.

iheartbianchi
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:17 am

by iheartbianchi

I thought this was good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m65q4a2cREQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fgz5I6KLVs

There are of course specific neck strengthening exercises:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OvuxEkv6x4

Pretty standard stuff. Or if you have friends who play football/rugby, they can help you out as well :)
Bianchi Oltre XR4
Celeste Matte
Campy SR 11spd mechanical
Bora Ultra 50 tubs
Viseon 5D / stock bits and parts

Bianchi Specialissima Pantani Edition
Campy SR / Chorus 11spd mechanical
Fulcrum Racing Speed 35 tubs
FSA / Deda bits and parts

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ms6073
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Location: Houston, Texas

by ms6073

While I only 'quoted' the last image, and I am probably going to get roasted for this, but my take away is that regardless of exercises/physio, with that stem/frame combo, the stack and reach are out of wack for your physiology as there should be more flex in the elbows on the hoods and in the drops.
Miles253 wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:03 pm
Image
Michael - The Anaerobic Threshold is neither...

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 3052
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

While not extreme, your back is slightly arched. Think of your spine as a spring and it wants your back to be straight. So even though your neck is in a relatively neutral position, the spine is under some tension. Work on your hip flexibility and rotate the entire pelvis forward. Try to keep your back straight. Set your shoulders back.

Miles253
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:32 am

by Miles253

ms6073 wrote:While I only 'quoted' the last image, and I am probably going to get roasted for this, but my take away is that regardless of exercises/physio, with that stem/frame combo, the stack and reach are out of wack for your physiology as there should be more flex in the elbows on the hoods and in the drops.
Miles253 wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:03 pm
Image
So you're thinking I need a frame with more stack and less reach?

Surely that would force me to arch my back even further?

I think there must be physiological gains to be made too, as this is a size 60 and I'm only 192cm so I think a 62 is going to be overkill for my height no?

I think I'll stick my power saddle back on and take another picture to see how it effects my posture - with a cleaner living room too! Image

Thanks for the responses so far, really helpful all.

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Rose Backroad 9kg
Canyon CF SL 7.5kg

https://www.findyourroad.co.uk/
Instagram: @miles_bc

zefs
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

If that is a 120, -6 stem you could flip it and see if you like the riding position, then maybe aim for a bike with different geometry (endurance). Handlebar would be 24mm higher and 7mm closer to you (which will also bend your elbows a bit more) based on: http://yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/stem.php

It's tricky because when you go up the bike sizes reach increases as well so you need a shorter stem if you have small hands compared to torso etc.
If you go small size the headtube is small as well which is another issue sometimes (long legs), so it depends on bike geometry and body proportions for each person.

All these details are aimed for comfort as far as fit goes, obviously if you are racing the setup will be different.

Miles253
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:32 am

by Miles253

zefs wrote:If that is a 120, -6 stem you could flip it and see if you like the riding position, then maybe aim for a bike with different geometry (endurance). Handlebar would be 24mm higher and 7mm closer to you (which will also bend your elbows a bit more) based on: http://yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/stem.php

It's tricky because when you go up the bike sizes reach increases as well so you need a shorter stem if you have small hands compared to torso etc.
If you go small size the headtube is small as well which is another issue sometimes (long legs), so it depends on bike geometry and body proportions for each person.

All these details are aimed for comfort as far as fit goes, obviously if you are racing the setup will be different.
Well I am more of a racer, but comfort is important. I'm certainly not going to opt for an endurance frame, would rather the neck pain! Haha.

That stem is an integrated one - 120mm, so no flipping. But that position is extreme because I'm not on the right saddle. See attached.

Need to figure out the trade off I think.Image

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Rose Backroad 9kg
Canyon CF SL 7.5kg

https://www.findyourroad.co.uk/
Instagram: @miles_bc

zefs
Posts: 295
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

Since you have tried other bikes and had the same issue maybe it's related to something else, like not being able to relax on the saddle or using too much pressure on the tires for the terrain you ride. You can also try the exercises and see how it goes, definitely needed for racing positions like the one you attached.

Miles253
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:32 am

by Miles253

zefs wrote:Since you have tried other bikes and had the same issue maybe it's related to something else, like not being able to relax on the saddle or using too much pressure on the tires for the terrain you ride. You can also try the exercises and see how it goes, definitely needed for racing positions like the one you attached.
It could certainly be those things too. That's the problem with such a discomfort. It could be down to any number of issues. I'm going to try some of those neck exercises and see if I can make improvements over the next few months.

Thanks for your help

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Rose Backroad 9kg
Canyon CF SL 7.5kg

https://www.findyourroad.co.uk/
Instagram: @miles_bc

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 3052
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

I very much doubt it's road vibration or bumpy terrain. The spring analogy I made earlier still applies. Your spine is like a damper everything attached to it. This is almost certainly a conditioning issue or fit issue, not overinflated tires or a hard saddle or anything like that.

by Weenie


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