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Upper back posture / exercise to improve it?

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Upper back posture / exercise to improve it?

Old 05-03-17, 06:12 PM
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Upper back posture / exercise to improve it?

I'm a new rider and and finding that I get pretty stiff and sore in my upper back, between the shoulder blades.

I get the feeling that my posture is probably a bit "hunched over" rather than keeping my back straight at about 45 degrees when riding on the hoods, or closer to the horizontal when riding on the drops.

Are there any exercises to encourage better posture? I do try to remember to drop my elbows and shoulders so that that there's less pressure on the shoulders, but I tend to creep back to an arched back when I'm not paying attention.

I should add that I have ankylosing spondylitis (a kind arthritis than can cause the vertebrae to fuse together), so having good posture is really important for my long-term health!

I often use a foam roller at home to "crunch" my back, but this isn't an option at work :-)
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Old 05-03-17, 06:18 PM
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I came in to post something very similar. I'm 47 yo, have been cycling for 10 years and have started having neck/upper back issues. No recent changes in bike setup. So I can't be of much help but am hoping for responses.

Edited to add this link:
https://www.brianmac.co.uk/cycling/upperbackpain.htm

Last edited by wolfpack95; 05-03-17 at 06:31 PM. Reason: adding link
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Old 05-03-17, 07:31 PM
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IMO, there is precious little agreement on what constitutes 'better' posture. so i wouldn't worry about it. as will probably be shown by the various responses given.

anyway, whatever posture one has is dependent upon a number of factors, the majority being controlled by our DNA and is not easily changed, like the length, width, depth and circumference of the bones and muscles in our bodies and the attachment points between them that are controlled by our tendons. the only ones easily, or not so easily changed if one makes any attempt to change them at all, are the muscles.

and IME, the trapezious muscles in the back of the neck are particularly susceptible to strain, fatigue, and pain because they have not evolved to serve the functions asked of them when cycling. i.e. to hold the head up so as to see forward while it is cantilevered out over the shoulders at about 45 degrees. the body is designed for strength when vertical not when approaching the horizontal.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 05-03-17 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 05-03-17, 07:50 PM
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pilates and yoga will help. I'm convinced as I get a little older (48 now) that yoga/pilates and daily stretching should be a part of every middle aged persons life.
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Old 05-03-17, 08:12 PM
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Old 05-03-17, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bonz50
pilates and yoga will help. I'm convinced as I get a little older (48 now) that yoga/pilates and daily stretching should be a part of every middle aged persons life.
Looks like I should get back into this, and dust off those pilates books that I bought a few years ago!

Down-facing dog, here I come....
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Old 05-03-17, 09:32 PM
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Many new riders tend to tense up their shoulders and also crane their neck backwards to see better.

It helps to not ride "stiff armed" with locked elbows. Also, keep your (relaxed) elbows in rather than sticking out in the airstream. Relaxing your arms (and grip on the handlebars) lets the bike move more naturally with you instead of resisting when you shift weight to alter trajectory.

As for the neck, I learned to look in the direction of my brow to keep my head down: this may or may not work depending on your choice of eye protection and helmet.

If you experience LOW back pain as well as you ride more, work on core strength.
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Old 05-03-17, 09:52 PM
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I have a cranky beat up back too, but what's helped it most is Egoscue exercises.

Look it up.

One of my favorite examples of it is on breakingmuscle.com with Maryann Berry. She also has a video on doing downward dog correctly.

https://breakingmuscle.com/coaches/maryann-berry
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Old 05-03-17, 10:34 PM
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Exercise good
Have you tried raising your bars 2 inches?

Bike fit is the most important thing.
There are online calculators. A professional $100 bike fit could be worth it.

Last edited by chrisx; 05-03-17 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 05-04-17, 09:01 AM
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1. Getting a fit will be a great way to reduce pain in your back. I just got a fit and I was shocked what a difference it made to my upper back.
2. Concentrate on pushing your shoulder blades down into your back jersey pockets. I noticed that my upper back gets soar when I climb because I tense my back.
3. Planks and a lot of push-ups can help strengthen your back and shoulders.
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Old 05-04-17, 09:36 AM
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1. Bike Fit
2. Relax (if the instructor is good, in a yoga class you can learn to focus/think on muscle groups and relax them; controlled, relaxed breathing helps.)
3. Upperback sore/tiredness is from muscles dealing with your shoulders, neck and head. If you are "straining to see" i.e. lifting your head up, then you are tensing your neck and upperback. You can alleviate this by straightening your back. Which requires less of an angle for your head to be held up.

Yes, you can excersize these muscle groups. I could go on and on, but you'd be better served searching the web for ways to strengthen upperback/neck muscle groups.
Originally Posted by johngwheeler
I do try to remember to drop my elbows and shoulders so that that there's less pressure on the shoulders, but I tend to creep back to an arched back when I'm not paying attention.
This is happening because you, or those muscles are getting tired. Just keep at it, in cycling there are more muscle groups to strengthen and condition than just your legs.

Last edited by Fett2oo5; 05-04-17 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 05-04-17, 09:49 AM
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1. Bike Fit
2. Core exercises. I've been working through this book since December and it's great -highly recommend. Tom Danielson's Core Advantage* https://www.velopress.com/books/tom-...ore-advantage/

Specifically addresses posture and back issues common to cyclists, and has a great intro on musculature, posture etc. to show you what's going on. The workouts hurt at first, but get easier over time. I try to do 3x/wk and have noticed improvements on/off the bike and virtually eliminated back discomfort for me. Especially noticeable when climbing, I now know what Core Recruitment feels like.

Also will add that the workouts are quick only take :20min, and are set up in well designed and progressive plan that you can follow.

Last edited by MagicHour; 05-04-17 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 05-04-17, 12:03 PM
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Another Core Advantage user here.

Also see the straight back thread: https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycli...discovery.html

For any of that to work requires that you pay constant attention to what's going on with your body.

I do dumbbell work every Fall to strengthen my upper back and shoulders. That helps, too. See: https://www.bikeforums.net/19258926-post13.html
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Old 05-04-17, 01:17 PM
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I too have used the Core Advantage book and it has made a huge difference.
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Old 05-27-17, 05:58 PM
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Off the bike, I've started doing shoulder shrugs with light weights (per the link I posted earlier). On the bike, I'm trying to change positions while riding to keep from stiffening up and get blood flow to that area. So far, seems to be helping.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:26 PM
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Use athletic tape across upper back to enforce good posture.

They also make braces that help keep the shoulder blades from rolling forward. I used to wear one as a Desk Jockey.
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