Jackie Leftwich BSc MSc AMC MMCA FRCC (Animal)
Chiropractor [McTimoney/STR/IAVC] (Qualified to treat humans and animals)
Registered with GCC and RAMP
Telephone: 07738 110570
E-mail: info@watersidechiropractic.co.uk

Why is Cycling such a Pain in the Neck? McTimoney Chiropractic can help!

August 18, 2013  |   Human Chiropractic,Latest Posts   |     |   Comments Off

At this time of year where the weather tends to be warm and sunny, many people take to their pushbikes. Recently I have noticed many representatives of local cycling clubs out clocking up the miles.  You do not have to be a professional cyclist to enjoy this excellent form of exercise and with the increasing everyday costs of fuel and running a vehicle, many take the opportunity to cycle and leave the car at home.   Whether cycling as a dedicated amateur or professional, to commute, or cycling for leisure and fun, the biomechanics of the body on the cycle can quickly lead to neck, shoulder and back pain…the ideal neck and back alignment just does not exist in cyclists!

Cycling puts a sustained load on the neck which is worse in the aerodynamic time-trial set up.  The more aggressive the bike set up, the greater the compression on the upper neck joints and pain after prolonged loading on long rides.  Ideal neck alignment does not exist in most cyclists as they tend to ride with the thoracic spine flexed and the neck extended so (understandably) that they can look ahead at the road. Studies show that 45% of cyclists suffer from chronic neck pain which is often worse after having been out riding (Wilber et al, 1995).  In addition, bilateral upper trapezius, shoulder pain and headaches similar to that of a hangover also affect many cyclists.  (As some headaches can be triggered by dehydration, it is always important to ensure that a good level of water intake is always achieved, particularly during intensive sporting activities.)

Whether a professional cyclist, committed cycling enthusiast or leisure rider, McTimoney Chiropractic can help with correcting the biomechanics of head-on-neck posture and the release of chronically restricted musculoskeletal structures.

The optimal curvature of the neck (cervical spine) is known as a lordosis and this is the position of the neck when it is in the neutral position.  It is generally not possible to cycle with the neck in this position; cycling tends to result in cervical (over-) extension and results in compression and overloading of the neck facet joints (vertebral joints found between every two vertebrae and to the sides of the disc), each of which can cause pain as there are many pain-generating nerve ends.  The greater the chin-poke, the greater the compression on these joints.

Adjusting the bike set-up, e.g. raising the handlebars, shortening the stem, may help in some cases. However, in many cases, the joint compression can be caused by misalignment of the cervical vertebrae or overexertion by the surrounding musculature, primarily those that link the neck and shoulder girdle, i.e. the trapezius and levator scapulae, but other muscles such as the neck extensors, sternocleidomastoids and pectorals can also be affected.  If some muscles are overexerting, the antagonistic pairs such as the neck flexors and rhomboids will also be suffering as a result of the muscular imbalances.  Recent studies have shown that there is often an imbalance just within the trapezius muscle in people with chronic pain, i.e. overexertion of the upper trapezius and underexertion of the middle and lower trapezius (Cools et al, 2007; De Mey et al, 2009).

Never fear, McTimoney Chiropractic from Waterside Chiropractic is here to help!  McTimoney Chiropractic is a gentle non-invasive holistic treatment which works to realign and balance the musculoskeletal system, restoring health, movement, soundness and performance through manipulation that realigns the cervical vertebrae and other joints, relieving muscle tension and associated discomfort and/or pain.  Correcting these imbalances can help strengthen the mid and lower trapezius and rhomboids and reduce the tension within the upper trapezius and levator scapulae.  McTimoney Chiropractic can achieve this without the aid of anaesthetic or drugs and comprehensive individualised after-care advice and support forms part of the package.

Cycling should be fun, not painful or restrictive.  So, if you or someone you know is suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain, as a result of cycling or other activity, then make an appointment with Waterside Chiropractic and put the pleasure back into cycling and life.


Cools A.M., Dewitte V., Lanszweert F. et al, (2007)  Rehabilitation of scapular muscle balance: which exercises to prescribe? – Am J Sports Med, 2007; 35: 1744-1751 / De Mey K., Cagnie B., Van de Velde A.M., Danneels L., Cools A.M. (2009)  Trapezius muscle timing during selected shoulder rehabilitation exercises – J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2009; 39: 743-752 /  Roddey T., Olson S., Grant S. (2002)  The effect of Pectoralis muscle stretching on the resting position of the scapula in persons with varying degrees of forward head/rounded shoulder posture – JMMT, 2002; 10(3): 124-128 / Wilber C.A. et al, (1995)  An epidemiological analysis of overuse injuries amongst recreational cyclists – Int J Sports Med, 1995; 16(3): 585-589

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