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Will a Shorter Stem With More Rise = Less Neck Pain

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Will a Shorter Stem With More Rise = Less Neck Pain

Old 05-24-21, 12:00 PM
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Rdmonster69
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Will a Shorter Stem With More Rise = Less Neck Pain

Hi All , Last summer this was not an issue but in December I had a near fatal car accident and suffered a very serious neck injury. I have since recovered and am back cycling. Unfortunately I had to have a significant amount of titanium hardware installed in my neck. It makes riding my old set up , literally, a pain in the neck. The problem is I can not extend my neck nearly as far as I could before. I can get my head in the proper position and hold it that way but I experience wuite a bit pf pain and stiffness towards the end of my rides.

My solution has been to order a 17 degree stem that is 20 mm shorter (80mm/17 degree) vs (100mm/7 degree) . I haven't received it yet but am overall just trying for a slightly more upright position to take some of the extension out of my neck. It shouldn't take much to help out. My MTB is cake as well as my semi aggressive position motorcycles.

I had a burst fracture of my C-1 with a torn apical and alar ligament as well as a ruptured transverse ligament at the occipital condyle insertion site (known as an internal decapitation) as well as a totally shattered tibial plateau. My orthopedic surgeon loves me cycling.....my neurosurgeon....not so much. I'm not concerned with the most aero position ....just a more comfortable one. I will stick it out with the stock set up if this doesn't work I was just curious as to what people are thiniking. Could/will this given me a somewhat more upright position.
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Old 05-24-21, 02:22 PM
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Congratulations on your recovery!

According to an online "Stem Comparison Tool" you'll gain about 4mm of handlebar height and shorten your reach by 25mm with the new stem. Hope it helps!

Last edited by KCRunning; 05-24-21 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 05-24-21, 02:22 PM
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Link: Stem Comparison Tool | yojimg.net
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Old 05-24-21, 03:50 PM
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If that doesn't work, it might be time to consider a recumbent. No head angling required.
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Old 05-25-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
If that doesn't work, it might be time to consider a recumbent. No head angling required.
I'm just not a fan of recumbents. I was fine for about 25 miles last night , the last 10 were pretty uncomfortable. I keep getting a little more distance before I have pain issues so maybe the stronger I get the better it will get. When they installed all my hardware they had to slice (longitudinally thank god) through a bunch of my posterior neck muscles. Earlier this month I could barely ride 5-10 miles before I had significant pain. I also have plenty of degenerative neck changes but my symptoms are mostly pain and not numbness/weakness. I can take the pain but would rather not have to. I will see what the new stem does for me. Up until about mile 25 I was thinking I wouldn't need to change anything......then I started getting stiff and I guess my sit bones are out of shape too because my ass was killing me which usually is never a problem.
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Old 05-25-21, 10:37 AM
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I solved my neck pain by removing the visor from one of my helmets so I didn't have to crane my neck so much to see down the road when in the drops.

So pay attention to how low your helmet comes on your brow. Adjust that as best you can or try a different helmet. For the type rides I'm doing now, I'd hate to present more drag. That just means I have less energy to look strong at the end of a four hour ride.

But I'd imagine sitting more upright will solve the issue too. But as you go higher with the bar, reach may or may not need some adjustment.
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Old 05-25-21, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
I'm just not a fan of recumbents. I was fine for about 25 miles last night , the last 10 were pretty uncomfortable. I keep getting a little more distance before I have pain issues so maybe the stronger I get the better it will get. When they installed all my hardware they had to slice (longitudinally thank god) through a bunch of my posterior neck muscles. Earlier this month I could barely ride 5-10 miles before I had significant pain. I also have plenty of degenerative neck changes but my symptoms are mostly pain and not numbness/weakness. I can take the pain but would rather not have to. I will see what the new stem does for me. Up until about mile 25 I was thinking I wouldn't need to change anything......then I started getting stiff and I guess my sit bones are out of shape too because my ass was killing me which usually is never a problem.
I hope it continues to improve for you! But - at least for me, I would do whatever it takes to continue riding, even if it meant a recumbent (which I'm not a fan of, either). But riding anything is better than riding nothing.
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Old 05-25-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I solved my neck pain by removing the visor from one of my helmets so I didn't have to crane my neck so much to see down the road when in the drops.

But I'd imagine sitting more upright will solve the issue too. But as you go higher with the bar, reach may or may not need some adjustment.
My helmet is without a visor and when I look out while wearing my sunglasses I actually look over my sunglasses but still am under the rim of the helmet so I think my helmet is good. I think a modest increase in stem height and decrease in length will help. I was fine on my current set up until about 25 miles. All of my adjustments for comfort while riding seem to revolve around sitting more upright. I am lucky to be alive so being nearly back to last years distances and times is nothing short of miracle. Because of some severely limited neck mobility I have been sticking to the bike paths. Thankfully there are some extensive ones around where I live and hopefully I can knock out a 50 miler this summer ...without venturing onto very many regular roads !!!
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Old 05-28-21, 07:25 PM
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I also have neck issues when riding---although nothing nearly as serious as OP's. Glad to hear you're recovering.

I made several changes that helped to alleviate the pain I was getting on longer rides. First, I moved from a 100mm stem to a 90mm with much more rise. Second, I had a habit of riding with my shoulders tense and "too high". I'm not sure how to best describe it, but yoga instructors often describe it as having your shoulders pulled up near your ears. So I have to remind myself to move them down and relax them. Finally, just always remembering to be as light as possible on my hands on the bars. That helps to maintain the upright position rather than sinking down.

Obviously, I don't know how helpful these will be to OP but all of these things in concert have helped to minimize the pain. It still comes from time to time but much less frequent and I can usually alleviate it by paying closer attention to my body position.
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Old 05-29-21, 09:03 AM
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Adjustable stem + height adjustable stem ought to help in finding a position that works for you.
Once you, continue with previous items, or replace with fixed ones.

Satori and ergotec are two manufacturers.
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Old 05-30-21, 04:56 PM
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Went for a 20 miler with the new stem. More upright but in a subtle way. Neck felt pretty good .....will try it for 30 tomorrow and see what the verdict is.
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Old 06-01-21, 10:07 AM
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It's the 40 and 50 mile or longer rides that will tell the story. For short rides we all have our different levels of tolerance. For me 35 miles seems to be the usual point where issues start to get noticed or even annoying.
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