Cycling and Neck Pain and Back Pain (Part 1)

Cycling has been dubbed the ‘new golf’, with middle-aged men enveloping themselves in Lycra and taking to the roads. Sunday mornings are not now for playing golf, but for working out how many energy gels are required for a four hour ride, climbing 2000 feet and maintaining an 18mph average.

Over the last year or so at the clinic there has been a noticeable increase in patients presenting with cycling relating complaints. Obviously there are a few neck injuries as a result of falls and the subsequent whiplash injury, but a number of patients have presented with neck and shoulder pain and headaches as a result of their sustained cycling posture.

The posture from cycling can cause problems in a similar manner to desk/workplace related neck problems. If you have a road bike with dropped handlebars you will generally have a saddle set up to be significantly higher than your handlebars. The resulting aerodynamic position is great at reducing wind resistance but it is rubbish for forward visibility, so how do you see? The only way to see ahead of you is to extend the head and neck upwards, or extend the head backwards, so your chin is parallel to the road and your eye’s are looking forward. This of course can be uncomfortable if sustained for a significant period of time!

The change to a road bike with dropped handlebars from a straight barred bike can be a shock to the system. I know I have made the jump, and it can take a few weeks for the body to get used to the new cycling position and during those weeks you may have to put up with all sorts of new aches and pains, you may even curse the purchase of the new bike, but stick with it!

When you have made the change to a dropped bar bike be sensible with the length of time you spend in the saddle of your new bike. Treat the new bike as you would do a pair of new shoes, gradually increasing the length of time cycling. Too much too soon, and the bike will cause you pain and create an injury.

For a number of patients once the body has adapted to the position they have no problems at all, but for some, problems persist. These patients need an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. This can include sending them for a bike fitting, (local to the clinic in Islington we have Condor Cycles and Julian is terrific!), self-help exercises and postural and ergonomic changes, as well as specific chiropractic adjustments to the neck to improve function of joints and nerves of the neck. It is also important to address other areas of the cyclist’s life such as sleeping habits and/or posture at work.



Julian at Condor Cycles adjusting the jig for an accurate bike fitting. As Condor say, 'The aim of the assessment is to help you ride faster, longer and in greater comfort'.




Next article… Cycling and Neck Pain:Common Symptoms.

Other articles on cycling:

Cycling and neck and back pain

Cycling and neck and back pain:part 2

How to make your bike more comfortable

London to Paris Bike Ride and How I fixed my Back Problem

So whether or not you are acyclist and have a specific neck pain or if you are a keen sports person and have episodes of neck pain, it may be time for you to visit our chiropracor in London and have your neck assessed. If you want an appointment with our chiropractor in London at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic click below.



By Brian on 8th Jan 2015   Share |

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