3 Best Cycling Exercises for Neck Pain

I just got back from a bike ride, and wanted to share with you the three exercises you need to do to fix your neck pain! Give these a try if your neck hurts when you ride your bike or afterwards. First, let me just share with you that this isn’t a substitute for physical therapy, even though I am a doctor of physical therapy, and these are three things that you can try. If your neck hurts when you ride,  see if it helps your neck feel better. If it makes a difference, great! Now you know that physical therapy can help you get even better, and stronger and feel better on your bike. If it makes it worse, well, then your problem may not be the areas that we’re targeting today.

Your problem may be somewhere else in your body.

You should see a physical therapist to find out where the problem is, because a lot of times, where you are hurting is not where the movement problem is. Pain is your body telling you that you need to pay attention, make a change, and it is essentially your body’s check engine light.

You might try these exercises, and notice no change, and that you still hurt. You still should contact us or contact your local physical therapist to make sure that there isn’t something else going on. So with that being said, there’s three things that you want to try. Like I said, I just got back from a ride. It’s been years since I’ve gone riding consistently, even though I used to be a Pro-Am cyclist. When I used to train five to seven days a week, there were a couple years where I  had excruciating neck pain and I couldn’t ride for more than two and a half hours.

I just went riding for 45 minutes, but it’s been years since I’ve done this.  I rode on one of my older bikes and so the position isn’t great. Check out the video to see how you can adjust your bike position.

But first, let’s go over the exercises.

A lot of times when your neck hurts, it’s not your neck that is the problem.

It’s your mid back. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to open up your mid back. We’re going to open up your back and neck and then I’m going to show you a couple of stability exercises. First, you’re going to take a foam roller and place it on the ground. Any foam roller will do. My favorite is the rumble roller, and I actually have a YouTube video on how to use it. Go ahead and roll out your mid back with your neck supported. It should feel good. You might feel a few little clicks crunch. This is just what we call “cavitations”, which is just the joints moving and stretching where they haven’t moved. If you’re in this bike riding position, all hunched forward, we need to balance that out and get you extended backwards.

The next exercise we’re going to do are three basic rotations. I have a separate video on this too, but go ahead and do some shoulder and neck rolls. Do three or three to five of these on each side. Next, take a band and stretch it across your chest. While holding the band, turn your neck side to side. This stabilizes your shoulders and allows you to turn your neck more.

First, we get mobility. Then, we work on stability.

This should help us start feeling better. So try those exercises. If these help, great, do them for a while. But if the problem doesn’t resolve or go away, you need to do something different. You might need a professional bike fit. That’s not something we do at our clinic, but we can check your position and just give you a few pointers. But, even when we send our patients over to get professional bike fits, what we also need to do is fix your movement problem first, because if you move poorly on a fitted bike, you will still have pain.

You might have an area of your back, that doesn’t move well. It could be a shoulder problem. Your neck could be stiff, or it could be a hip stability problem that is causing your knee to hurt or your mid back to tighten up more.

Let me know the results after you try these exercises! And if for any reason you’re struggling, and you would like some help, let us know! If you want us to take a look at your body, and your bike, to make sure that you’re moving well and that your bike fits well, reach out to us.

Or, if you want to be able to ride bikes without consistent neck or shoulder pain, and you aren’t able to ride as long as you can, we can help you do that.

We can offer you a total body diagnostic. We can do them in person or on video, and we will discuss what you are struggling with, let you know where the problem is, and how to fix it. All you need to do is go apply for one on our website! Then we’ll get back to you within 24 business hours.

Talk to you soon, and happy riding!

About The Author

Aaron LeBauer

Dr. Aaron LeBauer is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Business Coach to 1,000's of healthcare entrepreneurs. He owns LeBauer Physical Therapy, LLC, with his wife Andra, in Greensboro, N.C. He has been helping active people stay fit, active, healthy and recover from injuries without needing more pain medications, injections or surgery since 1999.

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