Cycling Neck Pain: How to Eliminate and Prevent it

Cycling Neck Pain

Today, we’re talking about cycling neck pain. What are the causes of neck pain while cycling, and what are a few ways to prevent it, or at least manage it?

Because cyclists spend 100% of their time leaned forward, the head naturally will start to creep forward as well. This dysfunction is commonly known as forward head posture.

It’s common amongst the majority of Americans because we spend so much time driving, texting, sitting, and looking down in general.

Having the head locked forward for an extended period of time puts a tremendous burden on the posterior neck muscles, shortens our anterior muscles (rounded shoulders), and speeds up the degeneration of the neck & spine.

That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

Here’s why.

The head is heavy, 8-12 lbs on average. Even worse, every inch your head moves forward, the load on your spine increases.

“For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”

-Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

Forward Head Posture

Image 1: The brain perceives the head’s weight as increasing by 10lbs for every inch it migrates forward. Image via Erikdalton.com

As you can see, WE DON’T LIKE FORWARD HEAD POSTURE AND WE HATE to see cyclists in pain. For those reasons, we’re going to share two of our favorite exercises to avoid or manage cycling neck pain.

Read: Hip Mobility For Cyclists

Neck Extensor Strengthening

Instead of using any tools, we’re going to use a little bit of a stretch that a lot of people don’t get because we spend a lot of time with the extensors in the neck closed off and the upper back extremely bent over.

This is a familiar position for people who cycle, sit at desks, and drive. This is the default position for many people.

For the first one, we’re going to start  on the back. As we usually do, we talk about mobilizing and warming up the tissue first.

We’re going to tuck the chin into the neck. You’re not lifting the head up or looking up the other way. You want to suck the chin into the neck. Make sure that you have a nice solid canister with your back flat against the floor.

This is a great corrective exercise for your upper back and lower neck. Do about 8-12 reps.

Kettlebell Armbar

We use this movement to dissociate shoulder and neck movement. Many cyclists end up using their shoulder and necks for the same position, which can be very limiting for both of them.

With the Kettlebell Arm bar, we’re forcing the shoulder to stabilize while using the neck to move at the same time.

Brandon is going to get in to the Turkish get-up position. Next, all he’s going to do is keep his arm stable.

Keep your neck and lower body relaxed. We want to activate the Serratus muscles and every other muscle surrounding his shoulder.

This exercise covers both mobility and stability, which is why we picked just two exercises for this #top3tuesday.

These two movements should definitely help reduce, eliminate, or prevent cycling neck pain. If you try them out, let us know how you felt afterwards.

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