If you're getting serious about cycling and are spending more time in the saddle, then chances are that you've had to deal with shoulder and neck strain and pain. This is especially true if you are training for long-distance road riding, as these type of bikes require you to adopt a bent-over posture and don't have shocks to damper the road bumps.
Therefore, if you plan to spend a lot of time riding, then you have to take measures to reduce shoulder and neck strains. Here are some things you can do to make your upper body more comfortable while riding.
Make Sure Your Bike Fits
A bike that is too small or too big will result in poor positioning. For example, a top tube that is too short may make you hunch over your shoulders, while one that is too long will cause you to overextend.
Adjust or Modify Your Handlebars
Handlebars that are positioned too low will put more strain and weight on your shoulders as you try to stabilize your body and hold your head up to see down the road. Adjusting your handlebars will help with this problem depending on how your seat is set up.
Check Your Seat
The seat and the handlebars work together to support your body and if your seat is too high, or is sloped downward too much, then you will have shoulder and neck problems. Your seat should only be slightly higher than your handlebars. However, the exact height depends on the individual. Try different adjustments to get the right mix.
While you definitely can build a lot of lower body muscle riding up hills and doing intervals, you should still do upper body exercises. Shoulder, back, and core training helps build muscles in the areas responsible for keeping your body stable and supported.
Practice Good Posture
Be sure to monitor your posture while riding to reduce strain on your upper body area. For example, keep your chest upright and your chin down as much as possible. Don't hunch your shoulders or lock your elbows when your ride. Try not to lift your head up more than necessary to see the hazards in the road.
Shoulder problems are fairly common in the beginning, but after you've been training for a while, you should feel more comfortable. Try not to adopt extreme angles or positioning that puts more strain on your neck than is necessary, especially at first. After you gain more strength and endurance, then you can change positions with less problems.
If you're experiencing unusual tightness in your back, or are having joint problems related to cycling, then see a sports medicine professional for an examination and suggestions on how to keep your shoulders and neck pain-free.