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

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Position 1
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Position 2

Middle Back Stretch

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Pectoral/Anterior Deltoid Stretch

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Latissimus Dorsi Stretch

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Upper Trapezius Stretch

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Levator Scapulae Stretch

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For more information on GC Coaching and how we can help you improve your fitness, please visit www.gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

Shayne Gaffney

About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in Health Science in Professional Development and Advanced Patient Care, is a licensed physical therapy assistant in Massachusetts, a USA Cycling Level 1 (expert level) certified Coach, a USA Cycling Power Based Training certified Coach, Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified Coach, a US Military Endurance Sports (USMES) affiliated Coach, and USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport certified. He is the owner and head Coach of GC Coaching, Workout Content Editor at Zwift, the creator of P2 Coached Computraining, and the creator of Zwift’s “Build Me Up” Flexible Training Plan. He has been published in Bicycling Magazine, the TrainingPeaks blog, and Zwift Insider. He can be contacted directly via info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

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