How to take pressure off shoulders while cycling?

lucyg Posts: 4
edited February 2015 in Health, fitness & training
In recent years I've developed RSI in my shoulders and neck (from long days working at a computer, not from cycling). I'm only an occasional cyclist, only really going out for day family rides, nothing intense. I haven't been out at all over the winter and want to get started again, but my RSI is worsening and I'm worried cycling will aggravate it because of the way my body is thrown forwards. Can anyone suggest any ways of taking the pressure off my shoulders while I'm cycling? Any special ways of positioning saddle/handlebars? Posture tips? Has anyone else got a similar problem?


  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    You need to speak to a medical professional as some injuries benefit from cycling and others are made worse by cycling.

    I injured my shoulder and mountain biking really helped me recover after I had spent a month just doing strengthening exercises. All the time I checked with the physiotherapist about what I was doing.
  • I agree with Kajjal, you definitely need to check with a medical professional such as a physiotherapist. That said I really think you might benefit more from tackling the route cause. You should check your workplace ergonomics and the set up of the desk, seat etc relative to the computer. Your employer has a duty of care to ensure your work safety and must make adaptations if its causing you work related RSI. As far as relieving shoulder pressure, the nature of the beast with mountainbiking is the terrian is constantly undualating and naturally forcing weight through your shoulders, there is no getting away from it. You might be better of on a road bike until the underlying problem is resolved.
  • Firstly I presume it's a flat barred bike (as opposed to a road bike)?
    If so then you are probably in a fairly upright position already so there shouldn't be as much load on your arms/shoulders. You can try to fit a shorter stem, one with a greater rise or even an adjustable stem which will allow you to try different positions and by effectively moving the bars up and towards you, take more load off your upper body. Also make sure your arms are bent at the elbows to absorb any shocks coming up through the bars.
    Another issue with flat bars is the relative lack of hand position options, try adding bar ends to give you the chance to change hand positions from time to time.
  • Xommul
    Xommul Posts: 251
    It may be that your stem is too long which puts undue pressure on your shoulders to support you by having your reach too far. you can adjust your seat forward or reduce your stem. Best idea is go to a bike fit place and get set up.

    You could make your core stronger so you can support your top half more and that will also take strain off your shoulders.

    Good luck
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  • If you haven't tried them a vertical mouse is excellent for for easing back/ neck/ shoulder pain of you are on the computer loads. Check them out!
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    Not withstanding any advice from a qualified professional - I'd say you need to stretch and start doing some functional strength training. You can tune your environment until the cows come home, but increasing the strength of the muscle and stretching them properly will make much more difference.

    Cycling is rubbish at working out your upper body and you'll find your shoulders and neck suffer a fair bit along with lower back. Plenty of exercises you can do to improve the strength of your traps the main muscle set that causes problems in the shoulder and neck and the core muscles which will help you hold your body better.

    Lots of vids on youtube. After taking proper advice, start with stretching then as your range improves look at bodyweight based training. Also if you have any weight to drop, drop it everything is easier on the body when you are lighter.
  • sdalby
    sdalby Posts: 139
    Core/Lower Back strength improvement. You'll be able to use your stomach and lower back muscles to hold your body up rather than having all of your upper body weight pushing down through your shoulders/wrists.
    Never put off until tomorrow something that you can do today. 'Cause if you do it today, and like it, the you can do it again tomorrow!!
  • I also work office based and use a physio every week (for other sports related reasons).

    Best bit of advice he gives most of his clients is to start strength exercises - this is the underlying reason for most problems. I have ITBS due to a weak(er) inner thigh (teardrop) so have been working on split squats and lunges which has done the trick.

    Start with compound exercises:

    Bench press
    Push press