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  1. #1
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    Ongoing neck risks?

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    So I saw my chiropractor today. I mentioned that I was getting back to exercising, and mentioned my plans to get into cycling. (History - I had a laminectomy and partial(?) discectomy in late March. The herniated part of the disc was removed, but not all and I didn't have a fusion. I've healed fairly well, with no real range of motion issues.)

    Neurosurgeon didn't have any real restrictions for me, other than moving as tolerated, and advised getting out of high contact competitive sports (it was a karate injury) if I wanted to stay out of his office. I didn't think cycling would be an issue, as it's low impact.

    Chiro, on the other hand, advised not cycling over 20-30 miles on a regular basis. Her concern wasn't falling, but posture and its effect on the neck for long periods. My goal is to ride a century or two.

    Are her concerns about posture (and overuse, I guess?) legitimate, or is she being overly cautious? I'm determined to find the right bike (upped my bike budget and am leaning toward a Ruby after advice here), I'll pay to have someone fit it correctly if necessary, and I'm not adverse to any sort of stretching/strengthening regimen to make sure that the neck stays safe. But will the prior neck issues pose a problem?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Not any kind of expert; I have had some back and neck issues, but no surgeries. My recommendation would be to pay careful attention to your position and bike fit to keep comfortable, and increase your mileage gradually.

    And have fun!
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  3. #3
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    I would do core exercises to keep your body strong to make up for any weakness in the neck. I would work up to riding whatever you can ride, with no hard and fast rules. If you have pain, I would see a PT.

    My only expertise is anecdotal; I have a bad neck but with physical therapy and keeping up with core strengthening exercises I can now ride all day.
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  4. #4
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    Chiro, on the other hand, advised not cycling over 20-30 miles on a regular basis. Her concern wasn't falling, but posture and its effect on the neck for long periods. My goal is to ride a century or two.

    Are her concerns about posture (and overuse, I guess?) legitimate, or is she being overly cautious? I'm determined to find the right bike (upped my bike budget and am leaning toward a Ruby after advice here), I'll pay to have someone fit it correctly if necessary, and I'm not adverse to any sort of stretching/strengthening regimen to make sure that the neck stays safe. But will the prior neck issues pose a problem?
    Would it be a big deal for you to be in a more upright position, ie. not have dropped down handlebars? For now, cycle over smooth surfaces and have shock absorbers to reduce vibration.

    I know several cyclists who no longer cycle in dropped down handlebars because of neck /posture issues for very long distances/several hrs. per day of riding.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by shootingstar View Post
    Would it be a big deal for you to be in a more upright position, ie. not have dropped down handlebars? For now, cycle over smooth surfaces and have shock absorbers to reduce vibration.

    I know several cyclists who no longer cycle in dropped down handlebars because of neck /posture issues for very long distances/several hrs. per day of riding.
    I'm not adverse to the idea - what limitations does that place on the rider, exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    I would do core exercises to keep your body strong to make up for any weakness in the neck. I would work up to riding whatever you can ride, with no hard and fast rules. If you have pain, I would see a PT.

    My only expertise is anecdotal; I have a bad neck but with physical therapy and keeping up with core strengthening exercises I can now ride all day.
    I'll definitely be doing that - do you use the dropped handlebars or the more upright ones, as mentioned above?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmyguys View Post
    I'm not adverse to the idea - what limitations does that place on the rider, exactly?
    .....I'll definitely be doing that - do you use the dropped handlebars or the more upright ones, as mentioned above?

    Luvmyguys - I've a totally messed up neck (bad disk/arthritis/bone spurs) and arthritis in my hands/palms that don't allow me to put much weight on them. I cannot ride drop bars. Period. Proper bike fit is of paramount importance, even more so when we have physical issues.

    The purple bike in this picture is my beloved Gunnar. She is a full custom design and I can ride her all day long without hand or neck discomfort. You will note the lack of drop bars and the grip shifters (high end SRAM).

    The blue bike was my Long Haul Trucker (sold a few months back). While not custom, you will note the 2-inch riser bars on her as well - I could also ride her all day long without pain in any part of my body. Proper fit is more important than custom, which is why I mention both bikes. You will note that both bikes have bar-ends on the grips which allow for more hand positions - but I have to say that I've never felt the need to actually use them!

    What is the impact of my very upright riding position? I certainly have more wind resistance than someone in a more aerodynamic position, and I won't break any speed records. To me it is more important to be able to ride as long as I want to and to not have pain afterwards.

    I concur with Goldfinch, whatever you decide to do, that you should ramp up your mileage base/time in the saddle slowly. Listen to your body more than to a schedule.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Luvmyguys - I've a totally messed up neck (bad disk/arthritis/bone spurs) and arthritis in my hands/palms that don't allow me to put much weight on them. I cannot ride drop bars. Period. Proper bike fit is of paramount importance, even more so when we have physical issues.

    The purple bike in this picture is my beloved Gunnar. She is a full custom design and I can ride her all day long without hand or neck discomfort. You will note the lack of drop bars and the grip shifters (high end SRAM).

    The blue bike was my Long Haul Trucker (sold a few months back). While not custom, you will note the 2-inch riser bars on her as well - I could also ride her all day long without pain in any part of my body. Proper fit is more important than custom, which is why I mention both bikes. You will note that both bikes have bar-ends on the grips which allow for more hand positions - but I have to say that I've never felt the need to actually use them!

    What is the impact of my very upright riding position? I certainly have more wind resistance than someone in a more aerodynamic position, and I won't break any speed records. To me it is more important to be able to ride as long as I want to and to not have pain afterwards.

    I concur with Goldfinch, whatever you decide to do, that you should ramp up your mileage base/time in the saddle slowly. Listen to your body more than to a schedule.
    Thank you!

    I will definitely be ramping up slowly, and listening to my body. I've got a friend (a PT aide) whose PT boss was an avid cyclist at one point. I'm going to get his advice on strengthening and fit, if possible.

    I think at this point (subject to change, of course), I may see if I can go with the Ruby and later change the handlebars to allow for a more upright position, if that becomes necessary. Right now, I'm just in spinning, and I'll admit that although the seat is way down, the handlebars are as far up as they can go, so it may become necessary.

    I think what I was wanting to know was whether or not it was possible to do the longer rides. I don't need to be fast, I just want to finish. It was that notion that I wanted to explore. Of course, as much as I trust this chiro to know when and how to treat me without making the problem worse, she's also the one who told me at one point that I was reading too much, and that this was causing neck problems. So while I listen to her lifestyle advice, I'm also not afraid to challenge it.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
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    Reading can definitely cause neck problems (at least, reading in an ordinary posture, with a book below eye level, using your hands to hold/turn pages/click page turn). It's one of the things I'm struggling with right now - there are so many things that aggravate my conditions, and reading is one of them. So don't be so quick to dismiss that bit of advice.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmyguys View Post
    ...I think what I was wanting to know was whether or not it was possible to do the longer rides. I don't need to be fast, I just want to finish. It was that notion that I wanted to explore. Of course, as much as I trust this chiro to know when and how to treat me without making the problem worse, she's also the one who told me at one point that I was reading too much, and that this was causing neck problems. So while I listen to her lifestyle advice, I'm also not afraid to challenge it.

    Thanks again!
    Reading can certainly cause neck problems if you are in the wrong position. Since my whiplash injury in the fall that has really been brought home to me. I enjoy reading, but position is all-important when you have neck problems. Sometimes I must put heat on my neck when I've read too long in a bad position (just the other day).

    You can certainly do longer rides, of course working intentionally, paying attention to your body (I can be very bad at this). Does your chiro understand cycling? Is it possible to find a PT who does if not? Just take things as they come and don't set hard-fast dates for now. I made that mistake my first year and wound up with a whole host of over-use injuries - but I wasn't very fit when I started. I tend to push myself too hard...
    Last edited by Catrin; 07-17-2012 at 08:10 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    Reading can definitely cause neck problems (at least, reading in an ordinary posture, with a book below eye level, using your hands to hold/turn pages/click page turn). It's one of the things I'm struggling with right now - there are so many things that aggravate my conditions, and reading is one of them. So don't be so quick to dismiss that bit of advice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Reading can certainly cause neck problems if you are in the wrong position. Since my whiplash injury in the fall that has really been brought home to me. I enjoy reading, but position is all-important when you have neck problems. Sometimes I've had to put heat on my neck when I've read too long in a bad position (just the other day).
    I think it was her advice to limit my reading or not read (rather than figure out how to maintain a good reading position) that got me. I found a book pillow from Levenger (which came in quite handy earlier this year when my neck was so messed up). Same with the cycling - rather than help me figure out how to challenge myself safely, she just told me not to do it.

    I walked out feeling a little bit like I was going to need to just lock myself into a padded room in order to keep myself safe for the rest of my life. I know that's an exaggeration, but there is a great mindset difference between us (which is probably what makes her a great chiro in terms of treatment). I'm willing to look for safe ways of challenging myself, whereas she says, "Why even go there?" Her POV is to stay on a nice, narrow, padded path. Even if I eventually have to give up on a goal because of health issues, I'd like to be able to at least give it a shot.

    You can certainly do longer rides, of course working intentionally, paying attention to your body (I can be very bad at this). Does your chiro understand cycling? Is it possible to find a PT who does? Just take things as they come and don't set hard-fast dates for now. I made that mistake my first year and wound up with a whole host of over-use injuries - but I wasn't very fit when I started. I tend to push myself too hard...
    I don't think she does (understand cycling). I do have a friend who is a PT aide - the PT she works with was at one point an avid cyclist. I'm going to go there first. I will definitely take your advice on taking it slowly and intentionally. If I can't do it, or if it takes longer, then so be it. But I'd like to try.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmyguys View Post
    ...I'm willing to look for safe ways of challenging myself, whereas she says, "Why even go there?" Her POV is to stay on a nice, narrow, padded path. Even if I eventually have to give up on a goal because of health issues, I'd like to be able to at least give it a shot.

    I don't think she does (understand cycling). I do have a friend who is a PT aide - the PT she works with was at one point an avid cyclist. I'm going to go there first. I will definitely take your advice on taking it slowly and intentionally. If I can't do it, or if it takes longer, then so be it. But I'd like to try.
    I am surprised at the number of people I've met in the last couple of years who have this perspective. Life in a padded room isn't, well, living (though I lived in that padded room for quite some time). Certainly we might find that we can't really do all that we want - but at least we will have tried and enjoyed what we were able to do.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmyguys View Post
    I found a book pillow from Levenger (which came in quite handy earlier this year when my neck was so messed up).

    [hijack] Linky? I'm thinking a portable massage table is probably the way to go, so I could read prone through the face hole, but if there's something that would let me read and turn pages supine without lifting my arms, I'm interested! [/hijack]

    Anyway, wishing you good luck... I totally hear you about certain doctors who want you prone 24/7...
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    [hijack] Linky? I'm thinking a portable massage table is probably the way to go, so I could read prone through the face hole, but if there's something that would let me read and turn pages supine without lifting my arms, I'm interested! [/hijack]

    Anyway, wishing you good luck... I totally hear you about certain doctors who want you prone 24/7...
    I don't know how helpful it will be, as it was something I used while sitting at a table (but it worked!). But here it is. I don't think I remember it being that expensive - inflation, I guess?

    When I was recovering from the surgery and the supine position was the only one I could manage, I had a cervical pillow under my head, a fluffy but otherwise ordinary pillow under my knees (kept the lumbar area from being strained), and then I could use flat, ordinary pillows as arm supports. Then I read a Kindle, which didn't require as much strength to hold up. I didn't sleep in a bed, I slept in a bunker! LOL!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Find someone who can do real body measurements from an OEM Machine or the electronic Guru machine setup. (Or similar).

    Wish I had.
    Got it. Will be looking!

  15. #15
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    What is the impact of my very upright riding position? I certainly have more wind resistance than someone in a more aerodynamic position, and I won't break any speed records. To me it is more important to be able to ride as long as I want to and to not have pain afterwards.

    I concur with Goldfinch, whatever you decide to do, that you should ramp up your mileage base/time in the saddle slowly. Listen to your body more than to a schedule.
    I'm not very upright, but I do bend forward slightly. I've been cycling like this..for past 20 yrs. and have never cycled in dropped handlebars. I've done several 1,000 km bike touring trips with my panniers @60-100 km. per day.

    Some years I was piling up nearly 7,000 km. annually. We're car-free in lifestyle.

    It's more important at this stage, to keep on cycling and being healthy, rather than worry about optimum aerodynamic position or being quite fast (which I realize you aren't that focused on.)

    I have 4 bikes. None of my bikes have dropped handlebars.
    Not a big deal to me but I know for whatever reason, it's important to others who don't race, but still want to be more aerodynamic.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know what’s in a person’s heart.

 

 

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