Rachel Whittaker explains how incorrect spinal and pelvis alignment can cause cyclist neck
1st October 2015 @TriRadar
The main areas worked when cycling are the powerful gluteal group, the quadriceps and the hamstrings, but the most susceptible areas to injury are the back of the neck, the lower back knees and hamstrings. Cyclists neck is usually caused by incorrect spinal and pelvis alignment and a lack of mid-back flexibility when on the bike.
When your midback is stiff and rounded, it prevents your lower back and neck from getting into a neutral position, which will result in overloading either our lower back or your neck and shoulders.
The first step to reduce your risk of injury is to get a tailored bike fitting. This is because cycling is all about angles. Your foot, knee, hi, spine and shoulders need to be at the correct angles to your limbs and body to prevent overloading, pain and subsequent.
For management of cyclist’s neck firstly you need to maintain/improve your mid-back flexibility in order to improve your cycling posture. Exercises to help improve this involve use of a foam roller to roll the upper back muscles, foam roller thoracic extensions, seated thoracic rotations, arm openings, side bends of the upper back and the shell stretch. It is also important to carry out regular stretches of the pectoral muscles, latissimus dorsi and tricep muscles. For strengthening a great exercise includes scapula setting which will improve the postural position and stability of the upper back and shoulder muscles. Deep neck flexors exercises are also great for cyclist which focuses on strengthening the deep intrinsic neck muscles and allow an optimal head-on-neck position whilst running, swimming and cycling. Finally, it is important that you have the correct mobility to adjust your pelvis so that it brings the lower back into neutral alignment. To do this you should practice pelvic tilts firstly to become familiar with the movement of the pelvis. Once you have learnt the movement of the pelvic tilts, you need to find the mid-point position if the pelvis which will be your neutral position. The rest of the spine should then follow into a neutral position.
In the initial stages of pain it is important that you avoid the exercise/activities that aggravate the pain, and seeing a Physiotherapist may be beneficial to assess the neck and upper back in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment and exercises according to your pain and level of strength/function. Continuing to train through pain is causing risk of further loading and damage to the injured area.