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  1. #1
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    Shoulder Pain Solution?

    Hi everyone,
    I have been experiencing shoulder pain when riding more than 45 minutes straight. I am seeking solutions. I am 5'11" and ride a 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker. It has a 56 cm frame and 700 c wheels. I have bad knees so I shortened the crank arms to 142 mm. Medically, I have had both rotator cuffs operated on so my shoulder issues are chronic. Last year, I replaced the stock handlebars with wider handlebars. The new bars are Nitto drop bars and measure 17.5 inches across on the inside. This helped but did not resolve the problem.

    I would like to raise the handlebars to unload my shoulders when I ride. Unfortunately, the bike mechanics say the headset (correct part?) will not permit any additional elevation. I am not worried about aerodynamics, I just want to be comfortable and take some longer rides. What are my options for improvement?
    Thanks,
    Neil

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    My first suggestion is to forget changing bike fit for now. Instead focus on fitness. Have you read this book?:
    http://www.irongarmx.net/Articles/7_...f_solution.pdf

    Tom Danielson's Core Advantage book has helped me with a range of issues, including sore shoulders.

    If you want to mess with bike fit now, I suggest viewing this video:
    Pedaling Efficiency.wmv - YouTube

    Particularly notice the section about saddle set-back. You don't need to have much weight on your bars. I find that having my bars lower and further away reduces rather than increases shoulder loading. It's leverage. The further away the bars are, the less force on your hands.

    I would think that very short cranks, while limiting leg movement, would increase pedal force and thus force on the knees, due to the decreased leverage of the short cranks. I ride 52 cm frames with 170-172.5 mm cranks.

  3. #3
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    Riser bar.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermanchauw View Post
    Riser bar.
    Hi Herman,
    Interesting suggestion, thank you.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    My first suggestion is to forget changing bike fit for now. Instead focus on fitness. Have you read this book?:
    http://www.irongarmx.net/Articles/7_...f_solution.pdf

    Tom Danielson's Core Advantage book has helped me with a range of issues, including sore shoulders.

    If you want to mess with bike fit now, I suggest viewing this video:
    Pedaling Efficiency.wmv - YouTube

    Particularly notice the section about saddle set-back. You don't need to have much weight on your bars. I find that having my bars lower and further away reduces rather than increases shoulder loading. It's leverage. The further away the bars are, the less force on your hands.

    I would think that very short cranks, while limiting leg movement, would increase pedal force and thus force on the knees, due to the decreased leverage of the short cranks. I ride 52 cm frames with 170-172.5 mm cranks.
    Hi Carbonfiber,
    Thanks for your recommendations. I am working on core but that is a long-term project. I am in need of some relief soon. I will check out Core Advantage. I am wary of increasing my reach on the bike. I do a lot bike commuting in heavy traffic and need my hands near the brakes to stay alive. Also, reaching in certain angles inflame my rotator cuffs. I will check out the video.

  6. #6
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    I agree with Carbonfiberboy. Bike setup is often counter-intuitive. People tend to believe a more upright position with less reach is the solution to their problems but the exact opposite is often the case. You should post a photo of your bike. It's possible the bars are too low or the reach too long but we won't know until we can see it.

  7. #7
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    Hi everyone,
    Here are some photos of me on the bike. I am leaning on a wall for the picture as I lack a trainer.
    Thanks!






    http://i1153.photobucket.com/albums/...ps3992f8fb.jpg


    IMG_1438_zps3992f8fb.jpg Photo by Wheelies1 | Photobucket


    IMG_1437_zpsde282dcb.jpg Photo by Wheelies1 | Photobucket

  8. #8
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
    People tend to believe a more upright position with less reach is the solution to their problems but the exact opposite is often the case.
    Could you explain why?

  9. #9
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    Hi everybody,
    Would a stem that has a variable angle so I could raise the handlebars help my shoulders? If yes, can anyone recommend a model? (I like the suggestion for a riser handlebar above but would prefer to retain access to drop bars).
    Thanks!

  10. #10
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I suggest installing interrupter brake levers, so you can ride on the tops of the bars while still having braking at your fingertips. That will move your hands rearward by several inches and could be all you need. The levers cost $30-40 and can be installed without even unwrapping the bars.

    Also, try this: sit on the bike, hands on the bars in riding position, then lift your hands just an inch off the bars, while keeping your body in the same riding position. Are you straining to hold your body up in that position, without support from your hands? More core strength will help. Now, try pushing your butt all the way to the rear of the saddle, and try the same lift-hands-off thing. Is it easier or harder to hold your body up? People often find it is easier. Moving the butt rearward balances the torso forward. If that is the case for you, you could try adjusting your saddle rearward, just a very little bit at a time.

    If you do want to change the bar position, tell the bike shop you want a stem that has positive rise, meaning it angles up. You can get it shorter as well. In fact, there are adjustable stems, that pivot up and down and lock in place. They look horrid but might be useful to try different positions.
    Last edited by jyl; 06-05-14 at 10:58 PM.
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi everyone,
    Here are some photos of me on the bike. I am leaning on a wall for the picture as I lack a trainer.
    Thanks!






    http://i1153.photobucket.com/albums/...ps3992f8fb.jpg


    IMG_1438_zps3992f8fb.jpg Photo by Wheelies1 | Photobucket


    IMG_1437_zpsde282dcb.jpg Photo by Wheelies1 | Photobucket
    Too bad we can't really see everything in your photos. They cut off information and there's only the choice of too small to see detail and original, which is too big to see the whole thing. Feet level and near-side foot down would have been good.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi Carbonfiber,
    Thanks for your recommendations. I am working on core but that is a long-term project. I am in need of some relief soon. I will check out Core Advantage. I am wary of increasing my reach on the bike. I do a lot bike commuting in heavy traffic and need my hands near the brakes to stay alive. Also, reaching in certain angles inflame my rotator cuffs. I will check out the video.
    In traffic, you should always ride with your hands on the hoods, two fingers on the levers. Reach is good unless your shoulder movement is limited. Reach mostly affects the lats.

  13. #13
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermanchauw View Post
    Could you explain why?
    I believe I explained that in post #2 .

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    I suggest installing interrupter brake levers, so you can ride on the tops of the bars while still having braking at your fingertips. That will move your hands rearward by several inches and could be all you need. The levers cost $30-40 and can be installed without even unwrapping the bars.

    Also, try this: sit on the bike, hands on the bars in riding position, then lift your hands just an inch off the bars, while keeping your body in the same riding position. Are you straining to hold your body up in that position, without support from your hands? More core strength will help. Now, try pushing your butt all the way to the rear of the saddle, and try the same lift-hands-off thing. Is it easier or harder to hold your body up? People often find it is easier. Moving the butt rearward balances the torso forward. If that is the case for you, you could try adjusting your saddle rearward, just a very little bit at a time.

    If you do want to change the bar position, tell the bike shop you want a stem that has positive rise, meaning it angles up. You can get it shorter as well. In fact, there are adjustable stems, that pivot up and down and lock in place. They look horrid but might be useful to try different positions.
    Hi jyl,
    Thanks for your recommendations. I really like your positive stem idea! These are really great tips. You raise an interesting issue with the interrupter brakes. I already have interrupter brakes and ride them almost exclusively in heavy city traffic. Because they are located close together, I am wondering if they are aggravating my shoulder problem. When I last had a fitting done, they put wider handlebars on the bike, which helped a bit.

    Would moving the seat back increase knee strain?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    In traffic, you should always ride with your hands on the hoods, two fingers on the levers. Reach is good unless your shoulder movement is limited. Reach mostly affects the lats.
    Hi Carbonfiberboy,
    In traffic, I usually ride on the interrupter brakes, because traffic where I live is brutal. I want maximum control of the bike if a car door swings open on me or I see a fresh pothole.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Too bad we can't really see everything in your photos. They cut off information and there's only the choice of too small to see detail and original, which is too big to see the whole thing. Feet level and near-side foot down would have been good.
    Hi,
    Thanks for your help here.I will post better pictures tomorrow.

  17. #17
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I have not heard people get knee pain from moving the saddle rearward, but I'd have to try it to see. I ride with my saddle all the way back. When you move the saddle rearward, it has to be lowered just a tad to keep the same leg extension.
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  18. #18
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    How about strengthening your shoulders? Is that a possibility? I have chronic shoulder pain, and I'm doing pushups now. Also, I am mindful to keep my shoulders down when I ride. I also work to keep my back straight. To make sure my back is straight, I bend it so it feels arched backwards. These things help me. They might help you.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    How about strengthening your shoulders? Is that a possibility? I have chronic shoulder pain, and I'm doing pushups now. Also, I am mindful to keep my shoulders down when I ride. I also work to keep my back straight. To make sure my back is straight, I bend it so it feels arched backwards. These things help me. They might help you.
    Hi Tom,
    Yes, I am doing physical therapy for my rotator cuffs. You say you keep your shoulders down when you ride. I have been told for good posture to keep my shoulders back. Could you explain more about your positioning when you ride?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    I have not heard people get knee pain from moving the saddle rearward, but I'd have to try it to see. I ride with my saddle all the way back. When you move the saddle rearward, it has to be lowered just a tad to keep the same leg extension.
    Hi JYL,
    Thanks for explaining about seat positioning.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    I suggest installing interrupter brake levers, so you can ride on the tops of the bars while still having braking at your fingertips. That will move your hands rearward by several inches and could be all you need. The levers cost $30-40 and can be installed without even unwrapping the bars.

    Also, try this: sit on the bike, hands on the bars in riding position, then lift your hands just an inch off the bars, while keeping your body in the same riding position. Are you straining to hold your body up in that position, without support from your hands? More core strength will help. Now, try pushing your butt all the way to the rear of the saddle, and try the same lift-hands-off thing. Is it easier or harder to hold your body up? People often find it is easier. Moving the butt rearward balances the torso forward. If that is the case for you, you could try adjusting your saddle rearward, just a very little bit at a time.

    If you do want to change the bar position, tell the bike shop you want a stem that has positive rise, meaning it angles up. You can get it shorter as well. In fact, there are adjustable stems, that pivot up and down and lock in place. They look horrid but might be useful to try different positions.
    Hi JYL,
    I have experimented with riding hands just off the hoods for the past couple days. I can go about 30 seconds before I have to return to the hoods. Sliding a bit back on the seat does help me to last longer riding with hands off the hoods. Does this mean I should move the seat back and down a bit?
    Thanks for the feedback,
    Neil

  22. #22
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I believe I explained that in post #2 .
    Thank you.

  23. #23
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi Tom,
    Yes, I am doing physical therapy for my rotator cuffs. You say you keep your shoulders down when you ride. I have been told for good posture to keep my shoulders back. Could you explain more about your positioning when you ride?
    I'm not sure what I'm doing, and I'm not even sure it's working well for me. I have chronic shoulder problems. I think I am keeping my shoulders low and forward. I'll check next time I ride!
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  24. #24
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
    Hi JYL,
    I have experimented with riding hands just off the hoods for the past couple days. I can go about 30 seconds before I have to return to the hoods. Sliding a bit back on the seat does help me to last longer riding with hands off the hoods. Does this mean I should move the seat back and down a bit?
    Thanks for the feedback,
    Neil
    I'd try it and see. If it allows your core to do a bit more of the supporting, and takes a little load off your hands/arms/shoulders, it may help. Measure the distance from center-top of the saddle to the pedal at lowest position, and adjust seatpost to maintain that distance as you adjust the saddle rearward.
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    I'd try it and see. If it allows your core to do a bit more of the supporting, and takes a little load off your hands/arms/shoulders, it may help. Measure the distance from center-top of the saddle to the pedal at lowest position, and adjust seatpost to maintain that distance as you adjust the saddle rearward.
    Thanks JYL. This is good information.

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