One Sided Neck and Shoulder Pain

Broono83 Posts: 75

Just looking to see if anyone else has had similar symptoms. I get pain every time I cycle in my upper right shoulder/shoulder blade area extending up into the right side of the back of my neck. It feels like a dull ache and tightness in the area. I try stretching etc before and during but to no avail. It only occurs with cycling, if I stop cycling it disappears after a couple of days until I cycle again. It is solely on the right side.

My bike is set up as best as I can according to various online guides, I have tried experimenting with handlebar height with no improvement. I did go for a quick "fit" at Epic cycles a couple years back and they advised a 10mm shorter stem which I took.

I have been to the physio and had 10 treatments which Bupa said was as much as they'd cover, this helped in terms of recovery but it just re-occurred the next time I cycled (I had stopped for 5 weeks in the middle of treatment).

Any ideas?

Bike is a 2012 Bianchi Impulso if it matters - its not super racy.


  • sadlybiggins
    sadlybiggins Posts: 158
    Very difficult to say in isolation but is there anything different on the right side of the bike, e.g. hood at a different angle or handlebars/stem not quite straight? I used to get pain in the tops of both shoulders but got rid of this when I pointed the hoods straight ahead - they had previously been cocked inwards slightly.
  • Broono83
    Broono83 Posts: 75
    Very difficult to say in isolation but is there anything different on the right side of the bike, e.g. hood at a different angle or handlebars/stem not quite straight? I used to get pain in the tops of both shoulders but got rid of this when I pointed the hoods straight ahead - they had previously been cocked inwards slightly.

    Thanks for the suggestion! I think they are straight and at the same angle.

    I'll double check when I get home and look for either being toed in or out
  • Are your bars centred?
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • kim10
    kim10 Posts: 186
    Hi, use to get the same symptoms as you are describing even after a professional bike fit the dull ache was still there, only on the right-hand side. Also experimented with different bar width and height but couldn’t really get to the root of the problem.
    Last year I got a new bike and the symptoms have been a lot less so I do believe mine was down to fit on the bike, and I generally feel more comfortable on my new bike which I was fitted for in my LBS. Recently I have also started to have a sports message through a Remedial Message Therapist, mainly legs, but I also get them to message my shoulders in that area and that certainly helps. I have also had acupuncture a couple of times and that seems to help as well.
  • Broono83
    Broono83 Posts: 75
    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    Bars are centred, just measured them.

    Had a look at shifters and does seem like the rhs one is toed in a couple degrees more than the left. When I went to move it I also discovered a small crack in it so will probably need replaced too!

    I have actually been wanting a new bike for a while (shock!) but just worried I spend even more on this one and still have the ache!
  • milemuncher1
    milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    It sounds like you’ve got an issue with inflammation of the soft tissues/ muscles around your shoulder region, which is putting pressure on a nerve / some nerves. It could be due to many things, start by getting a proper bike fitting, if the issues continue, go and re visit the physio, if it continues, go and see your G.P. and get a referral to a specialist. If I ever get something like this, I use Ibuprofen or a similar Non steroid anti inflammatory to mitigate, but that’s not for everyone, for a variety of reasons. Keeping an eye on your hydration / electrolyte levels whilst riding can’t hurt either.
  • spinndrift
    spinndrift Posts: 185
    As Kim10 says seeing a remedial massage therapist will help with any existing problems. Shoulders are funny old things as some of the muscles are really hard to stretch out by yourself but any good remedial masseur/masseuse will do an examination and then talk to you about a proposed treatment including mobilisations and tractions if they see fit.

    If you have muscle damage massage can help by breaking down the adhesions and getting the lymph flow back t normal to help the healing.

    I hope you get it sorted out.

    Cyclist, Massage Therapist & Ice Cream Genius
    Andrew Creer Massage
  • Broono83
    Broono83 Posts: 75
    Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated.
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,572
    Search for a proper Sports Physio that also does bike fits. There are a number of them around so the chances are that there might be one fairly local to you.

    Some NHS (and BUPA) physios are pretty generic in that they treat a wide range of symptoms whereas Sports Physios generally are specialist in more specific areas. It can be the luck of the draw when you see a NHS physio. I'm not knocking them as I've seen some very good ones but also some incredibly mediocre ones too that really had so little effect it wasted my time.

    I saw a sports physio for an injury and within weeks I was 90% fixed whereas the NHS took me 6 months and had little to no effect.

    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.

  • Broono83
    Broono83 Posts: 75
    Thanks for that. I will look into it, last one I saw was sports specific but was a running based shop.
  • MishMash95
    MishMash95 Posts: 104
    Another thing that could potentially help is core strength, or atleast just adjusting how you control the bike. I used to get quite achy arms/wrists/numb hands after most rides, and stiff shoulders after a long ride, however I found that I was often riding and using my arms to support far too much body weight, whilst also having a deathgrip on the handle bars.

    I found that with practise, I could loosen my grip, which also in-turn improved bike handling. I used to practise just riding without hands in general and most importantly, riding without hands whilst also leant forward in a normal riding position (rather than seated upright).
    Another similar thing I used to do was slump my back whilst riding, so my shoulders would in-effect go up, but this would mean that all of the force would go through them rather than the stronger back/core muscles.

    I'll add that it didn't take much core work to resolve the issues, most of it was balance practise and occasional planking :P
  • bristolpete
    bristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Usually a trapezius issue. The trap is a kite shaped muscle that starts at the lower back and ends at the base of the skull and flares across the shoulders. To my mind, the usual onset of the issue you mention is over reaching as this tends to pull the shoulders up and the neck down. Have spoken to several bike fitters of late and the main driver for the issue you mention is over reaching. As others say some remedial massage which should be done by a third party and an assessment of fit should help. Have changed my bike in the last couple of months and knocked a cm of reach off the reach figure and made a huge difference. Hope that helps.
  • Broono83
    Broono83 Posts: 75
    Thanks both. I am very conscious while riding to stay “loose”. I definitely don’t grip tight but do sometimes find my shoulders bunching up and consciously relax them down.

    Sounds like a bike fit is a necessity. Curious as to why it’s one sided though, to my mind this indicates an imbalance but I just can’t find it. Could be biological I guess?
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,572
    The thing about imbalances is that tiny things can have an effect like being right or left handed so that certain muscles are slightly more developed on one side as you naturally use that side more. I have one hip that is tighter than the other and the opposite glute the same. I regularly stretch both but the imbalance remains.

    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.

  • zefs
    zefs Posts: 484
    Can be caused by too long but also too short reach, too low or too high handlebar position but also check your tire pressure, if you are jumping around with each road imperfection you probably use too much.

    Make sure the transition from arms to hands is a straight line on the hoods, so no downward tilt on the hands (can be fixed by altering the handlebar or hoods angle). Lastly the harder you go the more you need to relax your upper body.