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  1. #1
    Senior Member Allen55's Avatar
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    hands and shoulders advice, please.

    while doing my ride today, I noticed after about 12 miles my shoulders were very stiff and my hands were hurting pretty bad. I noticed myself leaning forward and heavy on the handlebars. Is this just something that Ill get used to the more I ride, or is there something I need to adjust?

    My shoulders are already sore, so tomorrow is not gonna be fun. LOL
    Allen
    Riding since 09-16-2011
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  2. #2
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    From what I read there could be some fitting issues but in my own personal case when I first started riding I needed to take my hand off the bars quite often and "shake em out" as I rode more and got a little stronger and could support my weight better the pain started to go away...I still have to take em off now and then but very rarely compared to when I started riding.

  3. #3
    Member BridgeRider's Avatar
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    Check out Sheldon Brown's article on pain:http://www.sheldonbrown.com/pain.html#shoulders . As he suggests, it might help simply to keep your elbows bent. What type of handlebars do you use? Drop bars offer several different hand positions that are effective.

  4. #4
    Senior Member shawmutt's Avatar
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    I tried to deal with the pain and eventually (thanks to Sheldon Brown's article) shifted my position a bit. I also bought a pair of bicycle gloves that helped.
    My lifestyle change journey can be found here: The Skeptical Loser

  5. #5
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Sheldon has the best advice out there. You need to shift your hands and arms around, and use a relaxed grip.
    Nigel
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  6. #6
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Could also be that you went beyond your norm. As you progress, your muscles etc will develope along.

    If I go months without a major climb, even my triceps will be sore from the downhill.

  7. #7
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    A lot of this is solved by losing weight and getting stronger. The first part should be obvious: less weight to support. The second half is less obvious. To power the bike, you step downward on the front pedal. That would cause you to fall off the back of the bike unless you lean forward to get more weight over that front pedal. This is one of two reasons for the way road bikes are set up the way they are (aerodynamics is the other one) The harder you are pedaling, the less weight will be on your arms. When you coast is the worst. Drop bars have three basic hand positions (flats,hoods,drops) that match up to three power levels. On a flat bar bike, you can set it up so that the reach is right for low force pedaling, then bend your arms when you need to pedal harder. Butterfly (aka trekking) bars are another option, the one I like.

  8. #8
    Senior Member marmot's Avatar
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    Allen, it could be the way your bike is set up, or as simple as gripping the bars too tight and keeping your upper body tense. You shouldn't be supporting a lot of weight with your hands. Proper bike fit can help with this, and so can exercise to strengthen your core.

  9. #9
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    I agree.... could be how your bike is set up. Find a good shop and see if you can get a fitting. They might do it for you for free but sometimes it costs. Well worth it though.

    I had the same issues. One time it would be my elbos, one time my palms and another my shoulders. You want to get the weight on your sit bones and your core, not you hands. Someone told me you know you have it right when you can, while riding, quickly take swing your right arm to the right without losing balance. The thought is that no real weight should be on yoru arms. So adjustments in seat height, stem height and angle and seat angle too all played a part on fixing my issue with this.

    Also, gloves are great to have and also learning stretches on and off the bike are essential.

  10. #10
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marmot View Post
    Allen, it could be the way your bike is set up, or as simple as gripping the bars too tight and keeping your upper body tense. You shouldn't be supporting a lot of weight with your hands. Proper bike fit can help with this, and so can exercise to strengthen your core.
    Yep, as I understand it just like the shoulder straps on a backpack are there to stop it tipping backwards and shouldn't be taking any of the weight, so when cycling your hands should be on the bars to keep balance and steer and shouldn't be taking your weight.

    Both my bikes are arguably a little too short for me (although that's by choice because longer bikes have top tubes high enough to cause serious issues for future generations if I jump off in a hurry) and I often find myself leaning on my hands when cycling. If I catch myself doing that (usually because my hands are going numb) then I just make a point of shifting my weight back onto the saddle.

  11. #11
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Like others have said too much weight on your hands. There are two ways to deal with this. 1.) Bike adjustment and/or 2.) Core Strength. Bike adjustment is easier and usually means a more upright seating position. The problem is that it also means more wind resistance. Core strength takes much more work and time. The advantage is that if you even want a road bike you'll be preparing yourself for that. You'll be faster and riding into the wind will be easier.Other benefits of a strong core is better balance, back injury prevention and just feeling more energetic.

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    couple of things, most mentioned:
    grip - are you tense/holding tight? are you switching position frequently enough? locking wrists/elbows?
    strength - do you have the core strength to support your body (came with time for me)?
    set up - handle bars and/or seat may be off (we changed my seat on my mtn bike just slightly for huge benefits)
    vibration - gloves/wraps can dampen vibration which can help, along with ergonomic grips
    head position - watch ahead, not in front of your tire. just changing this angle can alter how you lean forward

  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I had terrible problems with my neck and shoulders that were resolved by religiously doing core strengthening exercises. You can find a number of them online. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXN4sDGOfSo

  14. #14
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    Like others have said too much weight on your hands. There are two ways to deal with this. 1.) Bike adjustment and/or 2.) Core Strength. Bike adjustment is easier and usually means a more upright seating position. The problem is that it also means more wind resistance. Core strength takes much more work and time. The advantage is that if you even want a road bike you'll be preparing yourself for that. You'll be faster and riding into the wind will be easier.Other benefits of a strong core is better balance, back injury prevention and just feeling more energetic.
    This is orthodox wisdom, but recent events have made me wonder if it applies to us fat guys. I recently ran into a problem where, after a big lunch, I had to stop a ride because my fat, full belly wasn't letting me get enough air into my lungs when I rode in a normal riding position - I thought I was having a heart attack, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

    The bottom line is that we may need to make some concessions (hopefully temporary) to our anatomies. One of those may be a more upright posture that takes the weight off the hands AND also allows us to fill our lungs. We also may not be so flexible as we age, which also drives a more upright posture. That implies a different kind of seat, and maybe even a suspension seat post to avoid the spinal injuries you talked about. Of course, when/if we lose the bellies, we can lower the bars and move to a more traditional riding posture, work on developing core strength, etc. But it's a mistake to think that someone who is obese can ride a bike configured for an athlete with 5% body fat...

  15. #15
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    This is orthodox wisdom, but recent events have made me wonder if it applies to us fat guys. I recently ran into a problem where, after a big lunch, I had to stop a ride because my fat, full belly wasn't letting me get enough air into my lungs when I rode in a normal riding position - I thought I was having a heart attack, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

    The bottom line is that we may need to make some concessions (hopefully temporary) to our anatomies. One of those may be a more upright posture that takes the weight off the hands AND also allows us to fill our lungs. We also may not be so flexible as we age, which also drives a more upright posture. That implies a different kind of seat, and maybe even a suspension seat post to avoid the spinal injuries you talked about. Of course, when/if we lose the bellies, we can lower the bars and move to a more traditional riding posture, work on developing core strength, etc. But it's a mistake to think that someone who is obese can ride a bike configured for an athlete with 5% body fat...
    As a 55 yo that was over 200 lbs heavier than now I couldn't agree more. I do wish I'd started working on core strength early in my fitness program. My arms and legs quickly became stronger than what my core could support. In the spring of 2010 I injured my back operating a tractor. Had I done a more balanced program I would have avoided dealing with a lot of pain that summer. Yes, There's not a lot of joy when doing core exercises. The results are slow to come, but it sure was nice the other day when I had a zero speed fall off the bike, rolling down a ditch and felt no pains the next day.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    In addition to what others have posted: I have very broad shoulders, and found that getting wider handlebars helped me avoid sore shoulders after a longer ride. This may be something for you to consider, if appropriate.

  17. #17
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    As best I can tell you have flat handle bars. You should add ergonomic barends to the bars to give you better and more positions. lost of people like these
    Ergons http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Bar+Ends.aspx
    or the ones i liked the cane creek http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...sc=FRGL&cc=USD

    or you could swap your bars out.

    My soapbox on bars: Flat bars are popular because of mountaing bikes but are all in all terrible for hand positioning. Form follows function and if you look at the history of bikes the majority of bars and long long lasting bar designs are those that allow the palms to be parrallel to the bike frame, thumb up.

    Most people who think drop bars are "uncomforable" are dealing with the height of the bar, not the shape....a flat bar set a low as some people set drops will be just as uncomfortable. for drops start with saddle and at same height. Drops will give you about 5 positions, actually riding in lowes positions is pretty rare but having the options with a big head wind is a life saver. There are other bar options, like trekking bars, north road etc. but for total versatiliy drop are hard to beat.

    bottom line Flat bars are specialty purpose bars but not well suited for longer rides without additions.

    OK of my soapbox

    the nitto noodles are great
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  18. #18
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Since you seem to be a "barrel chested" guy like many here the single best thing you can do for your comfort is get your weight on your butt and off your hands/arms/shoulders/wrist.

    At times this will mean an new set of bars like cruiser bars or north road bars , a new more adjustable stem, and a saddle re-adjustment (you did adjust it in the first place didn't you?).

    IMO the single dumbest thing on a bicycle for folk's over 40 is drops or straight bars. They cause older folk's much pain...........
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
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    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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  19. #19
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Since you seem to be a "barrel chested" guy like many here the single best thing you can do for your comfort is get your weight on your butt and off your hands/arms/shoulders/wrist.

    At times this will mean an new set of bars like cruiser bars or north road bars , a new more adjustable stem, and a saddle re-adjustment (you did adjust it in the first place didn't you?).

    IMO the single dumbest thing on a bicycle for folk's over 40 is drops or straight bars. They cause older folk's much pain...........
    I went with a stem extender and trekking bars a few weeks ago - I love it. Even though the wind resistance is worse, I'm a much stronger cyclist now because I can actually get air into my lungs. And my neck is thanking me every day for not having to be hyper-extended just to see what's going on in front of me.

    My saddle is sprung, so I haven't bothered with a suspension seat post. But I'm thinking of trying something wider, to give better support for the upright position. Bottom line is that we need to make adjustments for our bodies and our age. Most of the conventional wisdom when it comes to cycling is really intended for younger, lighter people.

  20. #20
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    Check if you're locking your elbows. If so, bend them. Nothing transmits road shock up the arms faster than keeping your elbows locked!

  21. #21
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    I must say I use modified flat bars on both my bikes (mountain and commuter) but I do have ergonomic grips on my commuter and bull horns on the mtn bike. I found that, over time, I need them less, but in the beginning it kept me on the bike more often and longer.

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