TOS = Neck/Shoulder Pain? prevention tips, please

I’m sure TOS isn’t the sole cause, but this is the biggest change in my life this week and my neck and shoulders are so tight. I probably have about 50-75% of my normal range of motion turning my next left and right.

I’m using the neck and shoulders yoga video in Sufferfest, and other yoga videos to help, and I’ve ordered a new, shorter stem as I think my handlebar reach is too far.

Any tips on preventing this in the first place? I know when I’m working hard my shoulders drift up to my ears, and I’m working on consciously stopping that, but I’d welcome any tips or insights you have!

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Yoga is a great remedy and prevention method. I think it really comes down to gaining strength and working on the flexibility. My neck and shoulders routinely stiffened up when I increased my time on the bike - but stretching and yoga, along with strength training and persistence on the bike seemed to be the answer for me.

Bike fit definitely. It’s amazing how just a small sizing issue on the bike can make a massive issue to muscles / aches and pains the longer you spend on the bike.

Other than that, stretching, yoga and foam rolling make a massive difference. The older I get the more I can’t get away without it.

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Second that - bike fit. I suggest go to your local bike shop and have them do a fit for you

If you’re looking at a screen for work AND for Suffering one possible fix would be to lower at least one of them a few cms and if you’re an oldie like me with varifocal glasses - make sure you’re naturally looking at the screen through the correct part of the glass lens - otherwise your head will be constantly adjusting for gaze height!

A few things to focus on - your bike fit and posture on the bike. Your upper body should be very relaxed.

And then your body off the bike. This is a more complicated topic but in general… I’ve found neck retraction exercises to be helpful, strength training core and upper body exercises. Also your posture throughout the day - are you sitting and looking at your phone/computer with a bent neck? Google and YouTube have lots of great resources on this. And just your general stress level throughout the day can tense things up. I eventually had to see a PT which was extremely helpful.

One thing to check is whether your handlebars are the right width for you. I think for women, stock handlebars are frequently oversized. I measure out to 36-37cm, and bikes in my size usually come with 40-42cm bars. I swap out to 38cm on my road bikes and it makes a world of difference. Otherwise I get a sharp pain just below that bony protrusion at the base of my neck after more than an hour on the bike. Unfortunately, bike fitters often don’t address this. At most they consider stack and reach without also considering width.

To measure, stand up straight and have someone measure the width across the front of your shoulders from the center of the joints. If you google it you can find advice, diagrams and videos.

The selection is limited below 38cm. If you need smaller, look at components from brands that market women’s models (Canyon, Liv/Giant, Specialized.)


All the above ! - And also, having a strong neck.

Many of us spend so much time in bad neck positions staring at devices, and there can be a price to pay.

A simple and effective neck strengthener is to just lie flat on a mat, with a small rolled up towel under the curviest part of the neck, and then gently use only the deep neck muscles to push into the towel, kind of like nodding one’s head but only with your neck muscles (you get a bit of a double chin if doing it properly).

I do these for my neck - though I have been advised/guided by my physiotherapist. In my case, I am told it is something in my neck that is causing the shoulder pain that at times radiates in the arms too.


Thank you, this is really helpful

this is a really good tip! I was thinking my arms splay a little wider than my shoulders. I’ve just measured to about a 37-38, and I’m riding with 40cm so I will absolutely be replacing them.

@burnsy totally good point – I spend loads of time looking down at my phone. I thinking the intense riding this week just exacerbated an existing issue

@MadFrankie @RKenmuir good point! All the bike shops in the area are not offering bike fits at the moment because of COVID I guess, but I’ll keep an eye out in the future and will see what I can fix on my own for now.

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Have a look at this GCN video, you can do a few basics from home.

I’ve tweaked my neck as I have a tv above my laptop screen so I can see the SUF workout and also watch a film if it’s a long grind video…I also think the extra time spent this week on the bike has caused my neck problem, sure it will go away in a few days.

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