Neck and mid-back pain is another common complaint I get from cyclists of all ability levels. I have noticed most of the athletes I coach experience neck and mid-back pain at the beginning of their first build phase, as their volume increases, or when we transition off of the trainers and back outdoors. This is due to the amount of increased time spent with our heads looking down the road. If our neck muscles are accustomed to riding for 1-2 hours and we increase our ride volume to 3-4 hours, you can bet those muscles will be sore and tired post-ride. This is amplified if you spend the majority of the time riding in an aerodynamic position as the neck extension angle increases.
You can see from the above images what I am talking about; the cyclist on the left is assuming a traditional riding posture with relatively little neck extension compared to the cyclist on the right who really has to crank his head up to see ahead of him. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET!!!
How to stretch
- Ideal best time to stretch statically is POST WORKOUT.
- Stretches should be held for 30 seconds minimum. Physiologically, it takes your muscle fibers ~30 seconds to relax enough to make static stretching beneficial and allow the muscle fibers to lengthen.
- Stretches should be performed in a comfortable range of motion, so no crying because it hurts so much, but you also want to feel like you are doing something too.
- Alternate each side with each consecutive stretch, so as 1 side is resting, the other side is being stretched.
- Perform the stretches 2-3 times each.
- Stretch out 2-3 times daily if you are really having an issue with your neck/mid-back. For maintenance, or if your neck/mid-back only hurts after an intense or long event/race, once a day is okay.
Pictures of my favorite stretches to help with neck and mid-back pain
Thoracic/Cervical Spine Mobility
Middle Back Stretch
Pectoral/Anterior Deltoid Stretch
Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
Upper Trapezius Stretch
Levator Scapulae Stretch
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