When you are riding your bike for long periods of time, such as going on long distance charity events and bike rides, do you find that your shoulders, back and neck become stiff and sore as a result? This can be a common complaint of long distance cyclists – but riding your bike doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. If cycling for long distances is hurting your shoulders and neck this is a sign that something is wrong with the way you are riding. Here are some tips for getting more comfortable:
Stretch Before You Ride
It is always important to stretch before long distance charity bike rides, so that your muscles are loose and warmed up. Make sure that you stretch your entire body, from your neck muscles all the way down to your feet. Give yourself plenty of time before your bike ride for stretching, so that you aren’t rushing through it. Not only will it prepare your muscles but it is also a meditative moment that allows you to calm down and prepare your mind for the physical feat you are facing.
Make Sure Your Bike Fits You Right
One of the major issues could be that your bike isn’t properly adjusted to fit your body. Make sure that you have the right bike frame, then make some adjustments to the seat, handle bars and stem so that they fit your specific proportions. If you aren’t sure how much they should be adjusted, you can ask the experts at a cycling shop to help you. You might need to pay to have your bike fitted to you, but it will be worth it because you will avoid a lot of strain and soreness.
Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Many cyclists have strong muscles in their legs and glutes, but they aren’t as strong in their lower back and abs. This means that these undeveloped muscles can cause you to have bad posture. When your back is rounded and your shoulders are hunched forward on your bike you will be placing a lot of strain on your neck and body weight on your arms. After you have been riding your bike for several hours your shoulders will be very sore and uncomfortable.
In order to avoid this, you should do frequent core strengthening exercises so that you can better maintain the correct posture on your bike. Some great core strengthening exercises including planks, bridges, scissor kicks and cat stretch.
Have the Correct Posture on Your Bike
The way that you sit on your bike is very important, as the correct posture will help you to avoid back and neck strain but the wrong posture will leave you aching and sore. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Imagine yourself in a V-shape, with the top of the V being your left and right shoulders and the bottom of the V is your mid back. Gently pull your shoulders toward your mid-back. You might not be able to hold this position for long, but keep stretching it so that you can build up the length of time and frequency.
- Be conscious about creating space between your shoulders and your ears. This will cause you to automatically draw your shoulders down.
- Make sure that your elbows are relaxed and bent. If they are locked they will send any bump in the road right up to your shoulders and neck, but if they are slightly bent they can act as shock absorbers for jolts and bumps on rough roads.
- Don’t hold onto your handlebars too hard. Your grip should be relaxed so that you can quickly change gears when you need to.
If you are experiencing a lot of shoulder and neck pain when you are riding your bike, you might want to consult a licensed healthcare practitioner for help and advice. You might find that you benefit from massage and bodywork sessions with chiropractors. You might also find that you benefit from working with a sports health expert who will be able to give you stretches and exercises that can help you with this issue over time.
If riding your bike has become a pain in the neck (and shoulders) then these are some tips to keep in mind in order to deal with the problem and reduce your discomfort.