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  1. #1
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Overuse Injury in Shoulder

    Anyone ever heard of an overuse injury to the shoulder from cycling? I am pretty sure, from the research I have done, that I have a rotator cuff injury. Don't know exactly how it happened. The only sport I do is cycling which requires very little shoulder motion, no overhead stress and no over the top motion as you would find in sports like tennis or baseball.
    I have been to my GP which gave me a muscle relaxer. Problem is it wipes me out but the shoulder pain still wakes me up at night. My concern is my doctor will advise me to lay off cycling. When I cycle there is no pain at all. I am just trying to be prepared when I see him or an orthopedic surgeon?
    Phil

  2. #2
    Senior Member j.foster's Avatar
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    I had this problem in a similar situation to you, cycling being the only thing i do that could possibly put any strain on my shoulder. I did however find that i would occasionally get pain whilst i was riding even though i ride a bike that as been fitted properly. While i was on the trainer indoors over the winter months i got my sister to take some pictures of my riding position so i could see if i could draw anything from that. What i found was that my right shoulder (the affected one) was hunched up and a lot more tense than the other one and my back was quite slumped. I also found myself to be leaning over to that side more. Since then i've made a conscious effort to sit straighter and relax my shoulders which has almost entirely eliminated the problem.

  3. #3
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j.foster
    I had this problem in a similar situation to you, cycling being the only thing i do that could possibly put any strain on my shoulder. I did however find that i would occasionally get pain whilst i was riding even though i ride a bike that as been fitted properly. While i was on the trainer indoors over the winter months i got my sister to take some pictures of my riding position so i could see if i could draw anything from that. What i found was that my right shoulder (the affected one) was hunched up and a lot more tense than the other one and my back was quite slumped. I also found myself to be leaning over to that side more. Since then i've made a conscious effort to sit straighter and relax my shoulders which has almost entirely eliminated the problem.
    Did that help? What were your symptoms?
    Phil

  4. #4
    Senior Member j.foster's Avatar
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    Yeah it has helped loads. The symptoms seemed to be that after a ride my shoulder would feel incredibly tight round the back and top of it. Sometimes the pain was quite intense and seemed to be almost inside the shoulder affecting the tendons. I also had problems round the upper back when occasionally i would get a ligament pain when lifting things at work. The last thing i noticed was a clicking if i move my shoulder in a full circle. Since riding without a tense shoulder the clicking has cleared right up as has the pain.

  5. #5
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    thanks, my symptoms seem to be only at night. I will go to sleep and 2 hrs later I am awake screaming with pain. Can't find any position for relief. In the morning I am feeling fine by the time I am ready to go to work - almost like nothing ever happened. I repaet this same thing every night.
    Phil

  6. #6
    Senior Member j.foster's Avatar
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    Well it's funny you should mention the whole night thing because come to think of it i do get shoulder pain at night but only to a small extent. If i'm sleeping on one shoulder i find it gets really crushed up and i can wake with similar symptoms to the ones i get from cycling all tensed up. I wonder if somehow sleeping in a bad position causes the problem and cycling compounds it? I'd be really interested to hear what some other people have to say on the matter. I only sleep with one quite flat pillow which means there's a lot of weight on my shoulder, come to think of it a second pillow could probably relieve some of the weight and maybe help.

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    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    It sounds a lot like what I've had. Does it also hurt when you lift things over your head?

    It's probably an impingement injury. It gets worse at night, of course. It's caused by a muscle imbalance. I also have a bit of osteoarthritis in that same shoulder. Mine may have come from weight training, or even from a fall. But I'd suggest getting it checked out and get some physio. I also got some exercises and stretches to do that have really helped. It's a lot better now. But get it checked before it gets worse.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  8. #8
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, I have seen my family doctor and he has started me on the first course of action. You know you have to go through this whole insurance riven dance routine before you can really get to the root cause. So first it is muscle relaxers and I can tell you they are useless. I took three last night and it didn't phase the pain. Next I will go to some PT and if that doesn't work I will have a series of xrays, which really wont tell you anything unless a bone is involved. So at that point I will need an MRI and they will find a tear or tears in the rotator cuff. That dance should take 6 months so I can plan on surgery come start of winter and be ready for spring training.

    Ok here is my question still. I have not been able to find any article, paper or study that even hints that cycling may cause shoulder injury. I have been riding for 5 years without any shoulder problem. So is there any worry about cycling and shoulder injuries? Except for crashes there seems to be none. The night before this happened my son and I were mountain biking and hit a deep hole which sent my butt over the handlebars. No biggy since I landed in the middle of a wet horse trail. I crash that MTB in some way every time I get on it. Had a tree jump right in front of me a couple weeks ago. Don't think I injured my shoulder then but who knows>
    Phil

  9. #9
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    I don't think cycling does it. It's more likely caused by a repetitive motion; baseball pitchers get it a lot. I think it's called "Thrower's shoulder" or something like that. If physio doesn't work, they'll do surgery, but usually they like to see if it heals first. They can also give cortisone shots. But often therapy and medication, like anti inflammatories can work. You may not need surgery, so don't worry about it just yet.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  10. #10
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    Did you crash on your bike? I injured my shoulder falling on ice.

    Bend your elbows when you ride. I've had very good results with a chiropractor and message therapy. I was able to avoid painkillers and surgery that way.

  11. #11
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl
    Did you crash on your bike? I injured my shoulder falling on ice.

    Bend your elbows when you ride. I've had very good results with a chiropractor and message therapy. I was able to avoid painkillers and surgery that way.
    crashed on my mountain bike. But i do that every time I go out with my son on the local single track, which is very technical. I am not a MTB'er for sure. I ride road bikes for 5 years and a couple times per month go out on my MTB. That is not enough usage to gain any confidence or skills so I just crash.
    Phil

  12. #12
    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    I fell once last summer,on my right side. It wasn't serious, but maybe it jarred something. THen, a month later, I slipped on the stairs in my building and fell-- not down the stairs, but on my left side. Basically I injured myself the same way- banging my elbow and hip. SO who knows.
    You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That's great...if you want to attract vermin.

  13. #13
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    It definitely sounds like you have rotator cuff tendinitis- an MRI will confirm for sure- although commonly associated with overhead activities, it can also be attributed to faulty biomechanics, excess loading or impingment. The impingment is caused by several things such as; poor scapula stability (common in cyclists), faulty biomechanics (strong internal rotators which leads to internal rotation of the head of the humerus), swelling of the subacromial bursa and so on...
    Your best bet is to:
    1. utilise postural re-education with exercises which will strenghten the thoracic spine extensors and stretch the pectoral and latissmus dorsi muscles (pain permitting)
    2. Scapula stabilising exercises, such as those for the middle and lower fibres of the trapezius and rhombiods
    3. Most importantly, redevelop equalstrenght of the rotator cuff muscles. Strenghten both internal and external rotation of the glenohumeral joint (shoulder socket)

    A good osteopath should be able to address you rotator cuff issues and maybe something like pilates can address the postural imbalanes you may have developed through cycling.

    best of luck

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