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Head position while cycling?

Old 03-26-23, 07:57 PM
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mara777
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Head position while cycling?

I've read an article about the causes/solutions to neck pain while cycling. I know that more aggressive positions are more likely to cause neck pain, and handlebar height and excessive reach are the two main things to check when you are having neck pain...

I just got a new to me road bike and it has aero bars. I love riding with the aero bars, but I don't really understand how my head should be positioned? So that I can see ahead, although that strains my neck? Or so my neck is comfortable, but I can't see very far ahead? Or maybe alternate between the two? What do you do?
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Old 03-26-23, 08:01 PM
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going full speed ahead, i look forward. With enough ride time, the neck strain shouldn't be a pain if the bicycle fits you right.
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Old 03-26-23, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
going full speed ahead, i look forward. With enough ride time, the neck strain shouldn't be a pain if the bicycle fits you right.
Thank you for your response! ☺️
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Old 03-26-23, 09:40 PM
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prior to having aero bars on my ride i used to ride with a base ball hat becasue the bill sheltered my eyes from teh sun. once the bars went on the had had to come off due to the excessive strain on my neck to see enough road ahead of me. if yo have a visor on your helmet you may be adding additional neck strain to compensate.
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Old 03-26-23, 09:42 PM
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How old are you? If you are in your 20s, it is a lot easier to get in an aero position than it might be at age 50 or 60. Also, bike fit is key; you should be balanced fore/aft on the saddle such that you are putting very little pressure on your wrists. This will also remove the tendency to strain your neck, which is a consequence of fighting to maintain balance.
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Old 03-26-23, 10:34 PM
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Sorry duplicate post
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Old 03-27-23, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
going full speed ahead, i look forward.
Down periscope! Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
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Old 03-27-23, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mara777 View Post
I've read an article about the causes/solutions to neck pain while cycling. I know that more aggressive positions are more likely to cause neck pain, and handlebar height and excessive reach are the two main things to check when you are having neck pain...

I just got a new to me road bike and it has aero bars. I love riding with the aero bars, but I don't really understand how my head should be positioned? So that I can see ahead, although that strains my neck? Or so my neck is comfortable, but I can't see very far ahead? Or maybe alternate between the two? What do you do?
Seeing ahead at least as far as you need to brake to a stop is pretty essential if you don't want to have an accident. So that should be your minimum target, which is also speed dependent. Unfortunately the latter is at odds with a more aero position, but I don't take that risk.
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Old 03-27-23, 07:13 AM
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You might give up a bit of forward vision on a track or a closed course, if you know the road really, really well. Other than those situations, you'd be foolish to ride so you can't see ahead of you.

Then the question devolves into "how can I ride aero bars and see in front of me?" As with so many other things about bicycles, the correct answer is "it depends." Perhaps you can swap out your stem to raise the bars (aero and ordinary) so you can lay your body flat and still lift your head up to see. Perhaps you need to work on your flexibility. Both these posit that if your back is arched, your neck will have to flex more to allow you good vision; conversely, if your back is flat and level, you don't have to bend you neck as far. Or perhaps the best way to proceed is to reduce your girth, so you don't need to round your back over your gut to reach the bars down low.
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Old 03-27-23, 07:22 AM
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For me, an interesting ride in the ambulance reinforced the notion that it's good to look where you are headed. If your vision is obscured, flip up the brim of your cycling cap.
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Old 03-27-23, 08:18 AM
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If I find my neck is hurting from holding my head up, it's generally because I'm hunching my back, rather than keeping my it mostly straight while rolling my hips forward. I also make sure my sunglasses allow me to look out the tops, so I can see far down the road even without holding my head vertical.
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Old 03-27-23, 08:47 AM
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Too much neck bend can lead to pinched nerves in your neck, over time. That can cause not only neck pain, but also hand numbness. Ask me how I know.

What is your use? If you’re not racing, why tuck down so low? If touring or utility riding, get an upright setup.

IMO, this position is another case of racer wannabe. Aim for comfort. Aim for long term health. But if you really want the aero advantage, be aware of the risks.
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Old 03-27-23, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
If I find my neck is hurting from holding my head up, it's generally because I'm hunching my back, rather than keeping my it mostly straight while rolling my hips forward. I also make sure my sunglasses allow me to look out the tops, so I can see far down the road even without holding my head vertical.
Good point about glasses. I use rimless shades for road cycling to get better vision through the top. The shades I use happily for mountain biking in a more upright position don't work so well for road as their rims are quite thick and the top one gets in the way in my road position. I find little details like this make quite a difference.
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Old 03-27-23, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Seeing ahead at least as far as you need to brake to a stop is pretty essential if you don't want to have an accident. So that should be your minimum target, which is also speed dependent. Unfortunately the latter is at odds with a more aero position, but I don't take that risk.
Very solid advice, I definitely agree! I don't ride that fast so I probably don't need to see as far ahead as most cyclists 😆

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
You might give up a bit of forward vision on a track or a closed course, if you know the road really, really well. Other than those situations, you'd be foolish to ride so you can't see ahead of you.
Then the question devolves into "how can I ride aero bars and see in front of me?" As with so many other things about bicycles, the correct answer is "it depends." Perhaps you can swap out your stem to raise the bars (aero and ordinary) so you can lay your body flat and still lift your head up to see. Perhaps you need to work on your flexibility. Both these posit that if your back is arched, your neck will have to flex more to allow you good vision; conversely, if your back is flat and level, you don't have to bend you neck as far. Or perhaps the best way to proceed is to reduce your girth, so you don't need to round your back over your gut to reach the bars down low.
Thank you for your thorough response!

Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
For me, an interesting ride in the ambulance reinforced the notion that it's good to look where you are headed. If your vision is obscured, flip up the brim of your cycling cap.
Oh no, I'm sorry to read this! Hope your accidently was nothing too serious 😳

Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
If I find my neck is hurting from holding my head up, it's generally because I'm hunching my back, rather than keeping my it mostly straight while rolling my hips forward. I also make sure my sunglasses allow me to look out the tops, so I can see far down the road even without holding my head vertical.
Thank you for your response! I will have to pay more attention to my posture while riding. I've only had this bike a couple weeks, but I don't recall having any neck pain until after I did one ride on a different, old road bike (slightly small for me, I had the saddle at the correct height, but I didn't adjust the handlebars. I was having neck/trap pain and felt there was a lot of pressure on my hands).

Originally Posted by canalligators View Post
Too much neck bend can lead to pinched nerves in your neck, over time. That can cause not only neck pain, but also hand numbness. Ask me how I know.
What is your use? If youre not racing, why tuck down so low? If touring or utility riding, get an upright setup.
IMO, this position is another case of racer wannabe. Aim for comfort. Aim for long term health. But if you really want the aero advantage, be aware of the risks.
I've only ever rode recreationally, but I'm currently training for a sprint triathlon. The road bike I bought (used) came with aero bars installed, so I've been using them because they are there lol. It's been extremely windy as well, so I can feel the different riding position makes while riding into the wind.
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Old 03-27-23, 09:12 AM
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Glasses

On a side note, if you wear glasses, if your glasses slip down you have to crook your neck up more to see. This causes me some neck strain . There's a post on here about that where a guy modified his glasses with an extension. I bought a well fitted curved pair that seems to help .
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Old 03-27-23, 02:26 PM
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I found, incidentally, that a little isometric strength work on the deep neck extensors helped me get a lot lower on the bike.
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Old 03-28-23, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
I found, incidentally, that a little isometric strength work on the deep neck extensors helped me get a lot lower on the bike.
This is the key post in this thread. In most cases, it is possible to strengthen/improve flexibility as a way to deal with pain issues.
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Old 03-28-23, 11:56 AM
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You just got the aero-bars so of course it is going to take time to get used to them, common sense. The more you do something the easier and more natural it becomes. Your neck muscles will strengthen and adapt. Go for a ride and sit up with your hands on the hoods, drop down onto the drops or aero-bars for a bit until it gets uncomfortable then get back up on the hoods. With time you will spend more and more time down comfortably. Once you can stay down for the length of a 20 or 40 kilo TT you are in good shape.

While riding fast on the drops or aero-bars you do not have to have your head looking straight ahead every second. If the road is smooth and straight ahead for many feet or yards then look down at the line on the road for a little bit, turn your head side to side a few different ways to keep it from getting stiff or cramped. I am in my 60s and I ride down on the drops all the time with no problem. Me on my race-bike;


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Old 03-28-23, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
Me on my race-bike;


Love it, always fun to see!
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Old 03-28-23, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
prior to having aero bars on my ride i used to ride with a base ball hat becasue the bill sheltered my eyes from teh sun. once the bars went on the had had to come off due to the excessive strain on my neck to see enough road ahead of me. if yo have a visor on your helmet you may be adding additional neck strain to compensate.
I came to road biking from a mountain biking background. I always wore a visor on my helmet to block the sun. Used the same helmet when I started road biking. I noticed right away that the ride position is very different on a road bike than a mountain bike. I also had a bit of a difficult time seeing so the visor had to come off. That was easy to do as it was a clip on visor.
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Old 03-28-23, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Love it, always fun to see!
I use the exact same riding position as Tour De France riders such as these, just common everyday aero positioning, nothing unusual or amusing about it;




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Old 03-28-23, 01:09 PM
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Well, you are all on bicycles so you have that in common!
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Old 03-28-23, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
I use the exact same riding position as Tour De France riders such as these, just common everyday aero positioning, nothing unusual or amusing about it;




No, your position is much shorter, with a lot more overlap of your knees and elbows, because your bike is too small/stem is too short.
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Old 03-28-23, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
I use the exact same riding position as Tour De France riders such as these, just common everyday aero positioning, nothing unusual or amusing about it;
beng1's position is not close to one typically adopted by a TdF rider.

His hip angle is less. His shoulder angle is less.

These angles are considerably below what is recommended by bike fitters, even for a temporary or time trial position.

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Old 03-28-23, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by canalligators View Post
Too much neck bend can lead to pinched nerves in your neck, over time. That can cause not only neck pain, but also hand numbness. Ask me how I know.
Likewise, hunching over a computer screen for 40 years can do this to you too. Ask me how I know.
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