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Pain between shoulder blades

Old 11-12-10, 03:24 PM
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Pain between shoulder blades

Hey Guys,

I've recently purchased a CAAD 10 105, however, after about 20 minutes of riding it I develop a knot between my shoulder blades/neck area. It's not the kind of pain you feel with a fatigued muscle, it's more like a kind of cramp. The LBS has tried shortening the width of the handlebars and lowering the seat (the seat is currently below the level of the handlebars) with no luck. Does anyone have any sort of experience with this kind of problem? I'm keeping my head down when I ride, so that shouldn't be the issue.

Last edited by Scire; 11-12-10 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:37 PM
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I do. Best thing you can do is use a narrower handlebar which separates your traps more...and...lower your handlebar.
We all assume a natural torso angle when riding which for most is close to 45 deg when hands on the hoods. If your handlebar
is too high...or your cockpit is too cramped, this will place your arms in much greater compression which goes right to the base of
the neck. To remove this compression....you need to lower the bars and use your core to hold up your torso which will not be
difficult provided your arms are not getting in the way.
Hope that makes sense. It may seem counterintuitive to lower the bar to reduce neck and trap pain but try it...easy experiment.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:41 PM
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Alright, I'll give it a shot. Thanks very much for the advice!
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Old 11-12-10, 03:50 PM
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The pain in your back might not be related to your cycling at all. It sounds like muscle spasms. I get them in that same area too. At one point, the pain was so severe that I had trouble breathing. I had to go to a chiropractor for back adjustments and massage theoropy to work the knots out from under my shoulder blades.

I would recommend that you do neck and arm stretches twice every day and especially before and after you ride.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:56 PM
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Well, I've never had any kind of chronic back pain before, and it only happens when I ride the road bike (I have a separate MTB and don't have any issues on that). I'll definitely check up on that issue though. The area in question is called the trapezius muscle I believe. Picture: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ed=0CDgQ9QEwBg

Also, here's a picture of my current posture on the bike (sorry for the poor quality) https://img824.imageshack.us/img824/7201/bikec.jpg

Thanks again for the help!

(If there're any other pictures of my posture that would be helpful in diagnosing please let me know)

Last edited by Scire; 11-12-10 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 11-12-10, 05:18 PM
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Any other comments? My current plan is to go to a more major bikestore nearby this weekend and get them to refit me to the bike.
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Old 11-12-10, 05:29 PM
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My thinking is that wider bars would be better. But if you're getting fit just ask the shop. No one here is qualified.
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Old 11-12-10, 05:31 PM
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Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 11-12-10, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Scire
Hey Guys,

I've recently purchased a CAAD 10 105, however, after about 20 minutes of riding it I develop a knot between my shoulder blades/neck area. It's not the kind of pain you feel with a fatigued muscle, it's more like a kind of cramp. The LBS has tried shortening the width of the handlebars and lowering the seat (the seat is currently below the level of the handlebars) with no luck. Does anyone have any sort of experience with this kind of problem? I'm keeping my head down when I ride, so that shouldn't be the issue.

maybe your stem is too short and you are putting too much weight on your arms. i had that problem and a longer stem solved it.
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Old 11-12-10, 07:36 PM
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On rides longer than 40 miles I used to notice that pain as well. A fitter explained to me that the cause is compression against the muscles in the neck from using your arms to hold your upper body and head up. Solution is to either ride more erect, or to relax the shoulders as much as possible when riding in a more leaned over position by using the back muscles to support your upper body, while also keeping flex in your arms. The combination of relaxed shoulders, back muscles and flexed arms helps relieve the pressure between your shoulder blades. I didn't want to ride more erect, so I began to concentrate on correcting my riding posture. It's been 18 months since I've had any pain in my neck or between my shoulder blades. That includes rides longer than 40 miles.
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Old 11-13-10, 06:57 AM
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I have read the replies here and it really is apparent that many if not most don't really understand riding a road bike. Consciously changing your posture on the bike isn't really desirable. There are many acceptable postures from a classically perfect straight back to Lance's hunchback riding style.
What matters is...all of us assume a natural riding position on the bike. There shouldn't be a deliberate mentality to ride with your shoulders consciously relaxed...or hold your toso up with your back muscles. No. As we lean into the handlebars our torso's won't naturally fall to the point we hit our faces on the steerer tube...even with back muscles relaxed. Our natural musculature will inhibit bending from the hips at some point as we lean forward. For most with the hands on the hoods this position is with torso 45 degrees in profile or so. The goal is to set the bars in horizontal reach and vertical drop far enough from the shoulder joints to allow the arms to drape to the hoods with no tension...or very little in this natural posture position. . From here as we push on the pedals our torso will naturally be controlled without conscious effort which only robs energy from powering the bike. If the bars are too high or too far back our arms will be in compression like rods holding up a tent and fighting our natural torso position which is all too common for those that purchase so called comfort road bikes for example. Many would be more comfortable on a road bike with a lower handlebar.
I hope the above resonates with some that read it...as it didn't for those that responded after my initial post.

Last edited by Campag4life; 11-13-10 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 11-13-10, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by zstjohn
My thinking is that wider bars would be better. But if you're getting fit just ask the shop. No one here is qualified.
I had the same problem and wider handlebars went a long way to solve it.Also don't ride with your arms straight all the time,there should be a slight bend in them.
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Old 11-13-10, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bartholomew mic
I had the same problem and wider handlebars went a long way to solve it.Also don't ride with your arms straight all the time,there should be a slight bend in them.
Happenstance. You can believe what you want but wider bars are directionally incorrect for resolving the OP's issue. This is because with wider bars, you hold your torso weight up with your musculature more than your skeleton. This creates tension in the upper back. Wider bars place the traps closer together pinching blood flow to the upper back. The only reason you may have experienced a change is because wider bars with the same stem increase reach which likely reduced some compression in your arms. A better solution is a narrower bar and adjusting the position of the handlebar properly. Another myth is a wider bar increases breathing. It doesn't. What do you get with a wider bar? A bit more leverage for climbing out of the saddle and you catch a lot more air every minute you ride.
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Old 11-13-10, 08:08 AM
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Scire, If that were a picture of me riding the hoods, it would be too erect and the cockpit too cramped, no pictures of me, but I have looked at my bicycle posture in store front windows. Your posture is more like when I'm riding on the tops. Try moving a couple of spacers from below the stem to above it and see how that works. A longer stem may work, but as you lower the stem it'll also move it away a little bit. You may also want to try flipping the stem upside down in it's present location.

As far as bar width, I think they should be the same width, or slightly narrower, as the shoulders, but there are exceptions.

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Old 11-13-10, 12:31 PM
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+1 to what Campag4life is saying.

OP, experiment with this for a bit -- consciously shrug your shoulders UP and push your neck down. In about three seconds, you'll feel why this is very much the wrong thing to do.

What you've probably been doing is a lesser version of this, which is why it takes twenty minutes for your neck muscles to hurt.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:39 PM
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I also have had that experience. My new ride has a much narrower handlebar than the old one, and that seems to have had a lot to do with solving the problem. They are also lower, as Campag4life mentioned. First time I took it out, I was amazed to return home after 3 hours in the saddle, with no pain.
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Old 11-13-10, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
Happenstance. You can believe what you want but wider bars are directionally incorrect for resolving the OP's issue. This is because with wider bars, you hold your torso weight up with your musculature more than your skeleton. This creates tension in the upper back. Wider bars place the traps closer together pinching blood flow to the upper back. The only reason you may have experienced a change is because wider bars with the same stem increase reach which likely reduced some compression in your arms. A better solution is a narrower bar and adjusting the position of the handlebar properly. Another myth is a wider bar increases breathing. It doesn't. What do you get with a wider bar? A bit more leverage for climbing out of the saddle and you catch a lot more air every minute you ride.
What I should have said was the bars that came with my bike were too narrow.I had a bike fit in where I was told to get a wider bar,and a longer stem.It really worked for me on my new bars my hoods were raised a little higher problem solved.
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