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Old 09-01-10, 09:30 PM   #1
Elmog
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Shoulder Pain

Just wondering if anyone suffering from shoulder pain has noticed any improvement after going to a carbon handlebar. I can only last about an hour and a half until I have to take a break as the pain can be quite unbearable. I would just like to get a few opinions before I invest in a new handlebar. BTW - My bike is a Specialized Allez Elite with the carbon fork. Thanks for any input. Jim
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Old 09-02-10, 12:16 AM   #2
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Has your bike been professionally fitted to you?
Stem length, and stem angle may influence your shoulder pain.
Maybe a less aggressive posture is what you need.
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Old 09-02-10, 12:21 AM   #3
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Unless there is a Medical problem with the shoulder- sounds like a fit problem.

But I would expect a poorly set up bike to hit the back- hands and wrists first. The normal remedy for the hands is to bring the bar back and up. I say normal- but that is not always the way to go. But that is not the problem you have in any case- but it may be a way of alleviating the problem.

But there are many formss of shoulder pain. Is it the effect of an old injury from years ago? Is it musculatr or a deeper pain? Any of these are a trip to the quacks so elimate medical problems first.
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Old 09-02-10, 04:33 AM   #4
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Some carbon bars are stiffer than aluminum. My carbon bars on my ATB are, theough lighter. I've seen rider tests indicate the same.

I had shoulder pain. The bone structure was such that it cut a tendon. It took until I was in my 50's to really become painful. They reattached the tendon and shaved the bone. It still bothers me some, but it's far better and I regained at least 90% use.

It took an MRI to show significant damage, but it was worst than even the MRI indicated.

I doubt carbon bars will make a difference.

Al
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Old 09-02-10, 04:38 AM   #5
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Is this chronic shoulder pain or simply bike related? Mine is chronic - not overwhelming, but live with it. Injured somehow - over time have forgotten the specific event. Gave up golf, but when feeling better went to driving range. Big mistake. On the bike, had to explain that was not giving wierd hand signals - just stretching and extending my right arm as tightens up with the limited range of positions even on a road bike handlebar. Don't have a carbon handlebar which MAY have an impact on vibration, but that is not the problem. It definately WILL NOT provide more positions.

That gets back to the initial issue. Is it a fit problem...or a welcoming to aging and a new friend, arthritis.
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Old 09-02-10, 06:24 AM   #6
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I have arthritis in my shoulders and I have found that dialing in just the right fit is vital for me to avoid shoulder pain on long rides. But over time I have figured out that magic setup and I ride comfortably.
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Old 09-02-10, 06:36 AM   #7
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Might be that your core muscles only work so long then the added pressure to the shoulders, arms and hands supporting the body shows up in shoulder pain. When the shoulder pain comes on try concentrating on your abs and using proper bike pedal form. If the shoulder pain goes away or lets up some, then it's time to work on the core muscles. You can do planks, back extensions and other off the bike exercises to build up the core muscles. I’ve noticed that when my hands start to go numb while riding it’s time to ride with better posture and form.
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Old 09-02-10, 07:16 AM   #8
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"Shoulder pain" is such a broad description. Where is the pain, when does it occur, and under what conditions? I have bursitis in both shoulders. It certainly counts are shoulder pain, however it is quite different than a frozen shoulder or a rotator cuff tear, for example. I know my bursitis acts up if I use handlebars wider than 42; a 44 will splay my shoulder joints out just enough to make sleeping that night very difficult. I'm trying to think of a shoulder condition for which carbon bars would make a difference, and I can't.
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Old 09-02-10, 04:58 PM   #9
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My shoulder pain is chronic, related to injuries resulting from Tennis and Baseball (old injuries from years ago). I have been fitted to my bike and have raised my handlebar level with the top of my saddle to lessen the pain. It takes a while for the pain to show up and it may be due to weak core muscles as Allegheny Jet has suggested.
I asked about the effect of fitting a carbon handlebar as I understand that carbon offers a better ride than aluminum and thought that it might be beneficial in alleviating my shoulder pain. From your answers it seems that it may have no effect on this condition. I believe I will concentrate on strengthening my core muscles and pay closer attention to my riding posture. Jim
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Old 09-02-10, 05:00 PM   #10
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That sounds like a solid plan. I hope it works for you.
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Old 09-02-10, 05:11 PM   #11
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One more thought. Make sure that your brifters are symmetrical and the handlebar is centered. I noticed my bar was off center to the right and I had left shoulder pain. I corrected the imbalance and was very comfortable on my ride today. BTW, the bar was only off about 1-1.5mm but over a long ride it made a big difference in comfort.
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Old 09-02-10, 05:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmog View Post
My shoulder pain is chronic, related to injuries resulting from Tennis and Baseball (old injuries from years ago). I have been fitted to my bike and have raised my handlebar level with the top of my saddle to lessen the pain. It takes a while for the pain to show up and it may be due to weak core muscles as Allegheny Jet has suggested.

I asked about the effect of fitting a carbon handlebar as I understand that carbon offers a better ride than aluminum and thought that it might be beneficial in alleviating my shoulder pain. From your answers it seems that it may have no effect on this condition. I believe I will concentrate on strengthening my core muscles and pay closer attention to my riding posture. Jim
It's probably a mistake to think that carbon will have no effect. It will have some, and, chances are, it'll be an improvement ( it almost certainly won't make things worse ). The question is whether that improvement will be worth the money you'll fork out.

Do you have drop bars, or flat? The bars themselves aren't cheap in carbon, but if you have drops, you'll need tape, too, and if you don't want to do this yourself (it's easy, but I don't like my own work!) expect to pay a little more for the labor to switch the brifters and cables over. This is a bit easier for flat bars, especially on a fixie.

That said, I got a carbon bike recently, and I feel like the road has been smoothed out. Carbon fiber dampens vibrations ( this is one of the main reasons photographers use it for tripods ), and CF bars will take away some amount of the buzz that winds up in your hands. Since your fork is already carbon, I can't say about your shoulders.

If possible (and it's not likely), try a set first.
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Old 09-03-10, 12:47 AM   #13
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Best cure for old Injuries is to keep the affected part moving. On a bike you don't move the muscles or joints in the upper body much so perhaps a form of exercise while riding may alleviate the problem. Can't think of any- but say every 30 minutes or so- Sit upright and put the Affected shoulder through a routine that would take it through its full movement would help. Wouldn't take more than a few seconds.

And on C.F. Different grades of manufacture could give you a set of bars that are too flexible or stiffer than the road. However they feel one thing is certain- they will be expensive. If they are not expensive- I don't think I would chance them.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:02 AM   #14
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Just one more quick thought. It might be worth trying double tape on your bars first. I believe that different tapes do better or poorer jobs of dampening vibrations, and tape is much cheaper than new bars.
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Old 09-03-10, 09:01 AM   #15
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Just one more quick thought. It might be worth trying double tape on your bars first. I believe that different tapes do better or poorer jobs of dampening vibrations, and tape is much cheaper than new bars.
That does help as do some of the foam or gel products like barphat. I use the Specialized barphat on the S-Works bar on my Roubaix. I believe it comes in several thicknesses.
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Old 09-03-10, 09:38 PM   #16
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I guess a double tape job or barphat would be the first mod to see if it will help. If so, I know what direction to go... Thanks for all the input! Jim
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Old 09-04-10, 07:10 PM   #17
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Asides from proper fit . . .
Developed shoulder pain several years ago. Took Oil of Evening Primrose. It worked. Quit taking it, pain came back.
Now taking Glucosomine/Chondroiton/MSM . . . keeps joints moving great . . . Like WD-40 for the body!
BTW am 78 years old and still cycle 100+ miles a week.
No, am not prescribing medicine . . . just what works or me.
Pedal on!
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Old 09-04-10, 07:54 PM   #18
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had shoulder pain few years ago, could hardly raise my arms, asked trainer at the Y and she gave me some simple exercises four times a week for 15 minutes, went away after a month or so ...stopped doing em for a half a year ,it came back , started doing em again, three weeks later , gone again... Think it was Impingement syndrome...but not sure...Bud
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Old 09-04-10, 09:00 PM   #19
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What exercises worked for you?
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Old 09-05-10, 07:53 AM   #20
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Not sure how to describe them, but it has elbows on hips, and a pull/push to and from directly in front of body,side to side in both directions..Using a machine.It is a very common exercise for shoulders in "older folks" all the trainers at the Y use it all the time.. Hope that helps a bit, sorry couldnt explain it better...Bud
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Old 09-05-10, 11:57 AM   #21
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Back to your original question-I have switched from alloy to carbon bars but I really have not noticed any difference in road buzz. However, I use different sets of wheels and some are much stiffer and translate road vibration much more than others.

I know you have been fitted and it sounds like you have a very neutrral bar to seat height which is good for your shoulder issues. Make sure your saddle is level and not tilted nose down which could throw more weight forward and put it on the arms and shoulders. I had similar issues with should pain from riding but mine was due to the "reach" being too long. Your reach from the saddle to the bars might be something you just double check to make sure most of your weight is on the saddle on your sit bones. Your elbows need to be bent while riding so they are helping to absorb the road vibration. If your arms are straight all the road vibration is being absorbed by your shoulders.
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