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Exercise Question: Neck and Back Flexibility

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Exercise Question: Neck and Back Flexibility

Old 04-02-19, 07:52 AM
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sultanofsuede
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Exercise Question: Neck and Back Flexibility

as i get a little older, i find it just terribly annoying how hard it is for me to look behind me (checking for cars, chatting with friends, etc...). i assume this isn't uncommon, that's why we see some many gray hairs with a mirror stuck to their glasses (yes, i have some too).

does anyone out there have any go-to exercises/stretches that help with back and neck flexibility and strength?
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Old 04-02-19, 08:35 AM
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I

Total body weight training. Shoulders, neck, upper back, lower back, abs, triceps, biceps, chest, quads, hamstrings, flexors, calves, ....everything. Compound muscle group exercises such as squats, Roman dead lifts, and so on. Do this as a lifestyle choice , not as an occasional thing and if done right you will notice little aches and pains you've had for years go away. Be careful to avoid injury. Start light. Your neck and back problems will improve unless your back is too injured to work out.

Add to this pilates, yoga, or just stretching. It will get better.
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Old 04-02-19, 08:42 AM
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I'm getting a little older too, but just a little . Speaking for myself, I hate stretching and do not have very good mobility. Stretching is very important for a number of factors - including having the mobility to look for cars behind, and being able to stay on the bike comfortably for a long time. There are a boatload of stretches you can do on line, a simple search is all you need to do. The hard part is putting the time in to get results.
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Old 04-02-19, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by joelcool View Post
I'm getting a little older too, but just a little . Speaking for myself, I hate stretching and do not have very good mobility. Stretching is very important for a number of factors - including having the mobility to look for cars behind, and being able to stay on the bike comfortably for a long time. There are a boatload of stretches you can do on line, a simple search is all you need to do. The hard part is putting the time in to get results.
so true. when i have time to ride, i want to ride. would rather not cut my ride short by 15-20 minutes to stretch, or even more time to lift. but maybe in the long run, its worth it?
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Old 04-02-19, 05:15 PM
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Yup. My back and neck were broken in six places in 2001. Mostly healed but the borked C2 still bothers me -- the bone regrew funky and I'm being re-evaluated to see what condition it's in. I can feel a lot of grinding. Then I was hit by a car last year, breaking my shoulder and reinjuring the neck. I've been back on the bike for months but it's uncomfortable so I'm going back to physical therapy soon, after ortho docs have checked my X-rays, CT scans, etc.

However I've worked carefully and steadily on my own PT at home, doing lots of stretches. When I first resumed cycling in 2015 after a 30+ year hiatus I couldn't turn my head very far to the left or right, let alone over my shoulder. I needed handlebar and helmet mirrors. And I could only handle an upright comfort hybrid the first year.

After a couple of years I was able to add a drop bar road bike, but was still extremely stiff and limited in flexibility. I kept working on stretches and core strengthening -- no weights, just body weight.

I can now peek over my shoulder most days. I still rely on a helmet mirror (Take-A-Look). But I don't need additional handlebar mirrors on my road bike or one hybrid -- the comfort hybrid has been retired to errand bike duty and still has a handlebar mirror.

I'm surprised how polarizing the notion of stretching is among cyclists, but I do what works for me. I wouldn't be able to ride at all without stretching before, during and after rides. That's the minimum I do almost every day.

There are lots of good video tutorials on YouTube for neck exercises. I gradually worked up from basic stretches to using hand pressure to add a little strengthening and extra stretch. Helps unkink a persistent cramp between the neck and right shoulder blade.

And I divide my rides about equally between the road bike and favorite hybrid -- an old diamond frame Univega converted from faux-MTB configuration to proper city bike with albatross bar at or just below saddle height. Good compromise for days when the neck and shoulder don't cooperate but I still want to ride. I'm usually good for 20-50 miles on the hybrid at a moderate pace.

Last edited by canklecat; 04-02-19 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 04-02-19, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
Total body weight training. Shoulders, neck, upper back, lower back, abs, triceps, biceps, chest, quads, hamstrings, flexors, calves, ....everything. Compound muscle group exercises such as squats, Roman dead lifts, and so on. Do this as a lifestyle choice , not as an occasional thing and if done right you will notice little aches and pains you've had for years go away. Be careful to avoid injury. Start light. Your neck and back problems will improve unless your back is too injured to work out.

Add to this pilates, yoga, or just stretching. It will get better.
And quit cycling because there will be no time left for it!
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Old 04-02-19, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sultanofsuede View Post
does anyone out there have any go-to exercises/stretches that help with back and neck flexibility and strength?
My experience is that getting a puppy is one of the best ways to get loads of range of motion exercises baked into your day. Much more fun than alternatives too.
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Old 04-03-19, 01:11 PM
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The best and most effective time to do this is just make it a habit to look behind you when you're riding.
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Old 04-03-19, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
The best and most effective time to do this is just make it a habit to look behind you when you're riding.
Bad idea for anyone with a neck injury. The time to practice neck mobility is *off* the bike, preferably someplace with a soft place to land. For years after my C2 injury an instinctive peek over my shoulder while driving, walking, etc., would cause an electric jolt-like surge of pain, accompanied by dizziness and nausea. It took years of healing and physical therapy to regain enough flexibility to get something close to a normal range of motion without pain and dizziness.

Even now I still do neck stretches before taking off on the bike to be sure I can turn and look over either shoulder without pain and dizziness. I don't take anything for granted. A sudden neck spasm could be disastrous.
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Old 04-03-19, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Bad idea for anyone with a neck injury. The time to practice neck mobility is *off* the bike, preferably someplace with a soft place to land. For years after my C2 injury an instinctive peek over my shoulder while driving, walking, etc., would cause an electric jolt-like surge of pain, accompanied by dizziness and nausea. It took years of healing and physical therapy to regain enough flexibility to get something close to a normal range of motion without pain and dizziness.

Even now I still do neck stretches before taking off on the bike to be sure I can turn and look over either shoulder without pain and dizziness. I don't take anything for granted. A sudden neck spasm could be disastrous.
Sorry, I was focused on the OP. Absolutely if you've had an injury, you should follow the recommendations of your doctor.
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Old 04-05-19, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
The best and most effective time to do this is just make it a habit to look behind you when you're riding.
ha! yep - i do this a bit on stationary bikes during the winter, but apparently not enough.
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Old 04-05-19, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sultanofsuede View Post
......................does anyone out there have any go-to exercises/stretches that help with back and neck flexibility and strength?

Originally Posted by joelcool View Post
........................The hard part is putting the time in to get results.

I had a small issue of a broken C6 in 2011, also clavicle, compression/slippage C5-C6-C7, Long Thoracic Nerve injury, right shoulder needed replacement all adding up to a limited range of motion once crash was healed. To improve motion I would sit down in our long shower stall or tub when elsewhere with HOT water hitting back, extend right leg straight out-cross left leg while bending at knee over right leg-keep left foot against right leg, slowly twist right at waist and neck as if to look back while pushing with left hand on floor at right hip and left hand on floor behind to left side providing stability. Hold a bit and reverse. HOT water helps relax and in time my range of motion increased a lot. I do this after every ride and every night when I shower. Takes a few minutes so no problem finding the time. I follow twist stretch with forward bend at hips as far as possible.

This Sunday I have the 167+ mile One Day Cross Florida ride and will take a HOT shower about an hour before starting and include the stretching. Also a LONG STRETCH after the ride.
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Old 04-06-19, 07:01 PM
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These are the two videos that have really helped me:

Gentle Fitness by Catherine Joppa
https://vimeo.com/219096246

Band Assisted Stretch
youtu.be/lEJbIvHNXaI?t=220

I've personally never found "static stretching" to be beneficial for me. But more advanced stuff involving moving the limb while using it has been helpful to me. I screwed up my leg and hip stupidly doing exercises with heavy weights and squats, and I've known several coworkers to also seriously injure themselves with it, so I don't recommend that.
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