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Shoulder pain & cycling

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Shoulder pain & cycling

Old 05-02-13, 04:22 PM
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Shoulder pain & cycling

I've had shoulder and upper arm pains for a year now. I've been having physiotherapy for it but it's not made much difference and the doctors say there's no signs of arthritis or degenerative conditions.

I ride straight and riser bar mtbs with front suspension and wonder whether the cause could be vibration and/or arm position. I try not to grip the bars too tightly and would like to keep riding these bikes.

I'm not looking for medical advice but am interested to see if anyone else has experienced shoulder/arm problems as a result of riding posture?
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Old 05-02-13, 05:00 PM
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I had the same problem when I first started riding 4 years ago. At the time I had a hybrid. Taking omega 3 fish oil capsule help but the irritation didn't go away until I got a road bike with drop bars. Having different positions you can put your hands in helped tremendously. You wouldn't think the little bit you have to rotate the shoulder for the flat bars would make a difference but it does. I haven't had a sore shoulder since I got the road bike.
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Old 05-02-13, 06:02 PM
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macd55 mentions the multiple hand positions of the roadie drop bars; you can approximate that by simply 'geeking out' and putting bar ends on your bars.

I DO have shoulder joint degeneration going on, and oddly, ON THE BIKE is about the only time they DON'T hurt! But then, the low back and right knee are the same way; I think it's the endorphins.
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Old 05-02-13, 06:15 PM
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If you have money to spend, and don't want to do a complete changeover to drop bars, you could experiment with bar ends, or various replacement handlebars, like trekking bars, H-bars, or those nifty Nitto Albatross bars, that allow you to still use your MTB style brakes and shifters while still giving you more varied hand positions and comfort.

I know switching from risers to trekking bars really made a difference for me, especially after I got the saddle-to-handle reach adjusted properly. There's just something to be said about not having your hands stuck in the horizontal position for extended periods of time. Try this experiment! Hold your arms out in front of you, with your hands grasping air-handlebars, and rotate the hands from horizontal to vertical alignment. For me at least, anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees (vertical) feels more comfortable than 0 degrees (horizontal). My hands just naturally prefer that angle more.
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Old 05-02-13, 06:16 PM
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I've been having Physical Therapy for a shoulder problem for ~6 weeks now. It is the result of years of bad positioning while sitting at a desk with a computer. The riding doesn't bother it.

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Old 05-03-13, 03:55 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

Although I can appreciate the benefits of a variety of hand positions, I won't go to drops as road cycling doesn't interest me at all any more. I will however give the bar-ends a try - the stubby style ergo bar-ends seem to offer the option of rotating the arm as a rest from having the hands straight on the bars.
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Old 05-03-13, 05:09 AM
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Zen is the answer. What the question is, no one knows.

I went through the neck and shoulder pain thing two years ago. I finally gave up and bought a recumbent. Stay with me now.

In spite of their reputation as being lawn chairs on wheels, bents are actually very quirky. There is a huge tendency to oversteer them.

The only way to get comfortable with a bent is to repeat the mantra, "Less is More" until you actually believe it. The faster you go, the more relaxed you must be. When I'm pushing 40 on a bent, my whole upper body must be completely relaxed to prevent over steering and all sorts of bad things.

For whatever reason I've been riding my LeMond again and, as I've become attuned to muscle tension, immediately noticed the shoulder and neck muscles tensing up like crazy. It occurred to me that maybe my prior neck and arm problems were primarily the result of tension.

I rode my LeMond earlier this week at a decent clip for an hour, constantly repeating the mantra and concentrating on relaxing the upper body. I felt great at the end of the ride.

Whether any of this makes sense or helps you, I don't know, but it seems to make a huge difference for me.
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Old 05-03-13, 06:28 AM
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I've struggled with shoulder and neck pain due to poor posture. I had a great professional fit when I ordered my custom Indy Fab four years ago. For some reason two years ago I thought I needed to make some adjustments. Right after that is when the pain started. Eventually (I'm not always the brightest or fastest when it comes to figuring things out) I realized I needed to get "back to where I was." Took the bike back to the shop that ordered it for me. They pulled their records and set it up the way it was on the day it was delivered. Since then no pain. It turns out that the pain was due to my shoulders and neck being tense from being too hunched. I had moved the seat forward, put on 42mm bars in place of the 44s, and raised the bars slightly. I was just too cramped in that postion. Once I was back where I belonged my neck and shoulders could relax and fall into a more natural position.
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Old 05-03-13, 10:10 AM
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Most of the time, shoulder pain is either fit, or tension related. Sometimes both.
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