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Old 05-01-14, 05:56 AM   #1
Jofuji
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Help me not give up cycling!!

Hi all

Newby here. Not sure if this is in right forum spot, but please mods chuck it where it needs to go. I'm close to giving up cycling for good and it's heart breaking

Long story short, I got into cycling 10 years ago and loved it. Never went fast but went out a lot and got super fit. Then went off travelling, bought houses etc etc and bike got sold.

Tried to get back into cycling 4 years ago, but no matter what bike I've bought, within 10 mins I have a searing pain between my shoulders and neck. I also have the same problem in my office chair, but have figured this out by keeping shoulders touching chair back.

I ride a scooter to work very day and can use an exercise bike no problem, so I'm thinking I need an upright push bike??

I currently have a Giant flat bar road bike. LBS tell me it's not possible to put longer stem and different handlebars on it. Is that true??

I can't afford to buy yet another bike in the hope that it works. Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey. I'm half thinking of buying an old knackered bike on ebay and putting some handlebars on it to try.

Any advice??
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Old 05-01-14, 06:09 AM   #2
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Sounds to me like you need an excellent physician to give you a good physical. After your medical examination, if they don't find anything, then get a second opinion....'Cause somethings wrong.....

Do a variety of exercises eveyday in order to both strengthen and become more familiar with your body. Sometimes, certain exercises reveal more info than anything else. Besides, if something bothers you during the exercise that shouldn't, you'll have more valuable info for the doctor to work with during his/her assessment.
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Old 05-01-14, 06:14 AM   #3
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Get a doctor's opinion on the cause. If you get it from your office chair, the problem isn't cycling. It sounds like a nerve issue.

You should be able to get a different stem with a higher and steeper angle. That will put your bars at a more upright position.
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Old 05-01-14, 06:48 AM   #4
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Sounds to me like you need an excellent physician to give you a good physical. After your medical examination, if they don't find anything, then get a second opinion....'Cause somethings wrong.....

Do a variety of exercises eveyday in order to both strengthen and become more familiar with your body. Sometimes, certain exercises reveal more info than anything else. Besides, if something bothers you during the exercise that shouldn't, you'll have more valuable info for the doctor to work with during his/her assessment.

Hiya and thanks for the reply.

I've seen docs and physios. Basically it comes down to bad posture and what they call the 'turtle neck' position ie when you're sticking your neck out way past your shoulders. A lot of people do it, particularly when doing a desk bound job as I do and you're staring at a screen.

I have had an ergonomics assessment at work and they have buggered about with my chair and monitor etc, but really it comes down to keeping my shoulders back. I've tried to hold this position on a bike, but no joy.

I might try a different bike shop and ask them about a higher stem in my Giant bike. I can't see what the issue would be ?? But them I'm not an expert on the different geometries of a bike.
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Old 05-01-14, 07:05 AM   #5
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Have you looked for a physical therapist that specializes in cycling? Or at least one with some expertise in cycling?

Yrs ago I had a friend with knee problems who was about to give up cycling. Somebody recommended a PT who specialized in cycling and he was able to help her.
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Old 05-01-14, 07:17 AM   #6
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In that case, you sound like a prime candidate for a recumbent!
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Old 05-01-14, 07:24 AM   #7
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In that case, you sound like a prime candidate for a recumbent!
I was wondering the same thing but that would mean getting another bike which the OP doesn't want to do.

Jofuji: There are some regional forums that may help you find a better bike shop, - one that could help with issues like this. You could ask for bike shop recommendations here too.
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Old 05-01-14, 07:24 AM   #8
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In that case, you sound like a prime candidate for a recumbent!
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Old 05-01-14, 07:26 AM   #9
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Have you looked for a physical therapist that specializes in cycling? Or at least one with some expertise in cycling?

Yrs ago I had a friend with knee problems who was about to give up cycling. Somebody recommended a PT who specialized in cycling and he was able to help her.
This.. or an MD or whatever as long as they have medical training and personally understand the stresses of riding.
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Old 05-01-14, 07:27 AM   #10
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You can put any bars and stem you want on any bike. It may require swapping out cabling, brake levers, etc, but there's nothing mechanically complex about it at all.

"Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey."

Not being able to put your toes on the ground ( or just barely being able to touch it with the tips of your toes ) while in the saddle is actually quite normal on a properly-fitted bike, depending on its geometry and your particular physical characteristics.
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Old 05-01-14, 07:41 AM   #11
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You can put any bars and stem you want on any bike. It may require swapping out cabling, brake levers, etc, but there's nothing mechanically complex about it at all.

"Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey."

Not being able to put your toes on the ground ( or just barely being able to touch it with the tips of your toes ) while in the saddle is actually quite normal on a properly-fitted bike, depending on its geometry and your particular physical characteristics.
This is true, but there are limits if the frame is incorrectly sized. If you are talking about putting a large stem riser with a super long stem, I could see the bike shop being reluctant. Butterfly bars might be an option to let you sit more upright. If the shop says they cant do that, find a different shop. And for the record, I can't touch the ground on any of my bikes if my kiester is in the saddle. If I have to stop, I stand up off the saddle and stand over the top tube. If you want to be able to touch the ground with your bottom on the saddle and have a really upright position something like an Electra Townie might work for you also, but again, that's a new bike you said you didn't want to buy.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:07 PM   #12
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You just need something like these bike seat backrests from a company in England to help support your back and to help you find proper positioning for your shoulders:

Bike Care - Backrest - back/side seat support for special needs





I haven't used them, but the lower one looks affordable (49.99) and would give you help with your bike posture.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:13 PM   #13
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You seem to be getting good advice. I'll just wish you well and hope that you are able to keep cycling.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:34 PM   #14
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Chiropractor helped me with a similar problem - I believe most of chiropractic is hooey, but for pain relief there's some merit.
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Old 05-01-14, 01:41 PM   #15
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IMO the o.p. does not need to see a neurosurgeon... yet. I mean... do you make an appointment with an oncologist because you get migrane headaches? There should be IMO, an escalation of specialists starting with a general practitioner. However, were it me, I wouldn't even be doing the medical professional thing... well I am more sussed out about bodies in general, and my own body in particular, than most of the general public. As described, the o.p.'s cycling history and current lifestyle point to nothing more dire than lack of tone in muscles specific to cycling than some intrinsic neurological aberration.

I can well belive that an LBS has no longer stem extension to but on a hybrid bike because they usually come stock with a pretty long one... like 110mm to 120mm and at least a 120* angle. If that isn't long enough then there isn't much they can do for you. I also don't think the prospect of needing to buy a new bike or possibly a recumbent should be a deal-breaker. If it really is, then, well that just shows how committed the o.p. is not to this whole thing and I'm not sure why they bothered to write a post entitled "Help me not give up cycling!!" emphasis not mine. Hmmmm. If your car died and a mechanic said it would take $500 to get it working again the credit card would be out before the words left his lips. True concern wouldn't set in unless the amount was in excess of $1200 to $1400 and even then, you would be juggling the various accounts payable to see where the money could be found.

Cycling can offer benefits far beyond mere transportation. Isn't that why the o.p. wants to get back to it? I'm thinking yes. Well... there isn't anything to do but face the fact that it may require the commitment of some funds to make it a viable proposition. But, there is a minimum level of fitness and muscle and joint tone necessary to make cycling work. Most 20 somethings and under have that pre-requisite fitness by default. Even 30 somethings. Beyond that, its anybody's guess. So... there you have it. Leisesturm's version of a pep talk. FWIW.

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Old 05-01-14, 01:46 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jofuji View Post
Tried to get back into cycling 4 years ago, but no matter what bike I've bought, within 10 mins I have a searing pain between my shoulders and neck. I also have the same problem in my office chair, but have figured this out by keeping shoulders touching chair back.
If you're having this problem in both biking and in your office chair, I would try to fix the actual problem itself. You said you've seen a doctor and a physiotherapist, and they didn't think their was anything physically wrong with you? But they weren't able to prescribe any exercises or anything to fix your problem?

This is a series of exercises I started doing because of a leg injury, but they have greatly helped improved my posture on the bike. It's weird, because it mostly concentrates on hip and leg mobility and flexibility, but I can just say that it's helped me personally a lot -
https://www.google.com/search?q=defr...sm=93&ie=UTF-8

There are also videos on increasing your whole body flexibility in general:
Amazon.com: Lastics: A Stretch Workout Like No Other: Sports & Outdoors

The first thing is flexibility. However, after that, it's often a matter of muscles in one part of your body being weak and so another set of muscles in another part of your body overcompensates for them. Your body evolved to keep your going even with bizarre muscle imbalances as in caveman times you couldn't just go to the grocery store and pick up some food. You can end up with a situation where the set of muscles that should be doing the work gets weak and unused, and another set of muscles overcompensates to allow you to move and becomes overdevelopped. This works in the short term, but leads to long term problems like the ones you're describing.

The answer is to find a way to extremely weak muscle directly, stretch yourself out so it can be used, built it up to a point where it's useful (we're only talking do-at-home exercises here, you don't need to go to the gym even), then your body will start using it again.

They have a lot of exercise videos out now that can help with stuff like this, something like Power 90 (it's the less-intense version of p90x) -
http://www.amazon.com/Beachbody-P90D...1&keywords=p90

Contain a lot of exercises to build up the muscles in your body that keep your body moving together.

I mean your doctor could better tell you if you have a serious physical health problem, but if you don't, for me increasing my flexibility and doing full body exercises helped me with similar problems to what you're talking about. And I also work my entire work day at a desk.


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I currently have a Giant flat bar road bike. LBS tell me it's not possible to put longer stem and different handlebars on it. Is that true??
You can replace the handlebars on nearly any bike. And you can nearly always replace the stem, though there are limits to that - there is a max and minimum stem size a bike can handle safely. But if they sold you a bike in your size range to begin with, this shouldn't be a problem.

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I ride a scooter to work very day and can use an exercise bike no problem, so I'm thinking I need an upright push bike??

I can't afford to buy yet another bike in the hope that it works. Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey. I'm half thinking of buying an old knackered bike on ebay and putting some handlebars on it to try.

Any advice??
It's typical that getting fitted right on a bike leaves you with not touching the ground with your foot, but at the same time if I remember right I can always get a toe down. So that's odd that you say that. If your seat is at the right height:
1. Your foot should NEVER leave the pedal
2. When you pedal, your leg should extend most of the way, but not 100% of the way. It's like 90%.

If your foot ever leaves the pedal, or your leg extends all the way when pedalling normally, I'd just try lowering the seat. It's totally possible that if the shop you went to is telling you that the bars and stem cannot be replaced, that they are just idiots. It's possible they have no idea what to do when fitting you.

As the previous poster said, an Electra Townie is a VERY upright bike. I mean like, 100% upright.

But I would try just lowering the seat on your current bike first. A seat that's to high can definitely cause shoulder pain and issues. If that doesn't work, I would try fixing your flexibility/posture/muscles next, as it sounds like the problem is affecting more than just your biking.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:12 PM   #17
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uh,
given what you describe, it sounds like a serious muscle imbalance.

Common among desk jockey's... And as we get older.

The push muscles get tight, and the pulling muscles atrophy.

Lots and lots of rows.

But given what you describe, please start with a Doctor and prescribed PT. Theraband's work wonders.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:23 PM   #18
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Have you tried a standing desk at work?
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Old 05-01-14, 04:30 PM   #19
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Lots of good advice here! Do some exercises to strengthen your neck and stretch your neck, back and shoulders. I had my rotator cuff rebuilt a couple years go and went through hell trying to get back on the bike. I saw a Physical Therapist and she helped me develop a stretching and strengthening routine that brought me back around. It wasn't easy though. I used to fear her so much I would start sweating the minute I saw her.
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Old 05-01-14, 04:34 PM   #20
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Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey.
This is normal. When coming to a stop you should come off the front of the saddle. As long as there is space above the toptube when you stand over the bike,there isn't an issue. Note,there are some bikes designed with the bottombracket more forward to allow you to flat-foot them,but they aren't typical.

It sounds like you need to be more upright. Different stem/bar combos should allow you to achieve this. You might want to try what are called 'townie' or 'promenade' bars.
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Old 05-02-14, 05:22 AM   #21
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This is normal. When coming to a stop you should come off the front of the saddle. As long as there is space above the toptube when you stand over the bike,there isn't an issue. Note,there are some bikes designed with the bottombracket more forward to allow you to flat-foot them,but they aren't typical.

It sounds like you need to be more upright. Different stem/bar combos should allow you to achieve this. You might want to try what are called 'townie' or 'promenade' bars.
I ride upright & cannot stand this idea of coming off the seat at every stop. If i had to do this i'd probably ditch the bike for walking.

There are a number of handlebars you can use... I recommend city bike style, so you can still fit it in doors and on trains etc easily.

Amazon.com: Wald 867 Low-Rise Cruiser Bike Handlebar (20-Inches Wide, Chrome, 4-Inch Rise): Sports & Outdoors



Hope this helps!

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Old 05-02-14, 06:08 AM   #22
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......
I can't afford to buy yet another bike in the hope that it works. Giant 'fitted' me for my current bike and let me leave the shop without being able to put even my toes on the ground, so I've been burnt by the whole 'get it fitted' malarkey. I'm half thinking of buying an old knackered bike on ebay and putting some handlebars on it to try.

Any advice??
Just want to be sure. You can't touch the ground while standing over the toptube ?

If that's the case, your bike doesn't fit you. And said it did, dont go back there.
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Old 05-02-14, 06:29 AM   #23
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Long post, same issues.

Chiropractor first. I suffered with back, neck and arm pain for several years because nearly everyone, including my physician sister, said chiropractors are quacks. In desperation I finally went to one, he listened to me, found a disc rotated out of position and popped it back. Within hours I was pain free. That was 30 years ago and now I only see him about once a year for an adjustment which keeps me in good stead.

A few years ago I started having a different issue in my neck. The chiropractor did not like what was going on and x-rayed me. He found a bone spur on one disc and sent me on to the physical therapist. She put together a set of exercises that strengthened the muscles in that area and now that is mostly under control. Again,

"Turtle necking", as you so aptly describe it, really aggravates my issue as it causes that bone spur to pinch nerves. I had been turtle necking for years when looking at monitors, which I do a lot since I'm an IT geek. I finally figured out that I needed glasses that focused at typical monitor distance, about 32 - 36 inches for me. My eye doc worked that up and now I can sit back and read the screen without turtle necking.

So what the hell does all this have to do with cycling? In my case I can't tilt my head back for long without pain so I can't ride leaning forward, at least not if I want to see where I am going. A full upright bike was the solution and now I enjoy riding more than ever. The roadies zip by me, some sneer but that's OK cause I'm out riding and looking at the scenery, not the pavement passing under my front wheel.

Here are a couple of my dorky upright bikes. Everyone may snicker as necessary.





I attempted to make my flat bar hybrid an upright but could never get a tall enough stem to make it work. Converting a standard road bike like the Schwinn Passage was cheap and easy.
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Old 05-02-14, 05:38 PM   #24
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I ride upright & cannot stand this idea of coming off the seat at every stop. If i had to do this i'd probably ditch the bike for walking.
Wat? This is pretty much the norm on anything but beach cruisers.
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Old 05-02-14, 05:47 PM   #25
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Wat? This is pretty much the norm on anything but beach cruisers.
Even beach cruisers. About the only exception are crank forward BSO's. I think I would rather just lurk and never let the world know that I was that ignorant as to think bicycles were supposed to be ridden with the seat 3" too low so I could stop like a motorcycle. SMH.

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