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Morning Muscle Weakness(26 posts)

Morning Muscle WeaknessKristin
Jun 28, 2001 6:11 AM
I'm a little worried about this. The day after a hard ride, or after successive days of riding, I sometimes experience weakness when I wake up. I feel fine until I sit up, then--kinda suddenly--my shoulders, arms and hands feel like they go to sleep. The weakness is profound enough to make me lay back down again. It passes quickly, but my arms will feel weak w/a slight loss of motor control for a couple hours.

I believe the cause is a remaining 4 inch drop to the top of my bars. While riding, my traps get very tight--I spend hours kneading them. I'm going for ultra sound soon, b/c the knots are growing rapidly. (A friend is helping me with a solution to raise the bars-- the quill is as high as it will go).

Has anyone experienced anything similar? Know what's causing it? I'm calling my old PT today, but might not get to see her for a week. In the meantime, I was hoping to do a metric century on Saturday. I'd really like to attempt one, but I'm wondering if I should just do the 30 instead. opinions?
re: Morning Muscle WeaknessDINOSAUR
Jun 28, 2001 8:27 AM

I always feel a little bit tired and beat up, especially the day after a long ride. With me, a lot of it's with age (pushing 59).
I'd check for overtraining, too much too soon, too far. Make sure that you give yourself a couple of easy days a week and perhaps two complete days off your bike without riding. You can adjust your schedule so your weekly miles is about the same.
Another thing to consider is low blood pressure. My wife has low b.p. and she has the same symptoms as you and she is not a cyclist.
Also I'm not a newbie, but a retread. It took me about two full seasons until I worked all the kinks out, and that's with getting rides in during the winter.
More advice is sure to follow, good luck.
some helpDog
Jun 28, 2001 8:32 AM
You are likely experiencing some nerve compression and just plain old fatigue. I've experienced the same thing in one degree or another after some long rides with a lot of time spent on the drops.

One solution is to get some aerobars. They'll take the pressure off your arms and shoulders. Can't use them on hills or in pacelines, though. Even little rests on them on the flatter areas can help a great deal.

I'd do some exercises for the arms and shoulders to build up a little excess strength there.

Change your hand positions more often while on the bike.

Get the bars up higher or closer to you for a while. Might change out to a riser or shorter stem.

The hot tub and massage works wonders.

You are
I'm gonna play doctor and say that Dino nailed it -- low BPbill
Jun 28, 2001 9:04 AM
I would go see a doctor. What you described is more than the day after soreness/tightness; I find it hard to believe that upper body weakness deep enough to make you want to lie down after exercise that involves almost entirely leg motion could be related to your posture on the bike. I've felt as if I've been beat up, sure, but it's mostly in my legs. It sounds more as if you're not getting the blood supply up when you sit up -- do you get tunnel vision or lightheadednes, too?
I think that you have two problems that may not necessarily have any relation. Don't go to a PT, go to an MD. That doesn't sound right to me. Sometimes when I have that beat-up thing from working a bit hard, I think that I have a little BP problem too, but I've always had low BP, and I'm not sure how they relate. If it happens with any regularity, I would go see a doc, I really would.
For the shoulder tightness, you may need to raise your bars, but you also may need to adjust your length on the bike (counter-intuitively, longer can be easier on your arms, because you're not pushing back). Your saddle nose may be too low, causing you to slip off the front, causing you to push back, too. You also just may need to lighten your grip. Strengthen your back and stomach a little and let those muscles do some of the work that your arms are now doing.
Egg under my shoe... <warning: tangent>Kristin
Jun 28, 2001 11:09 AM
Hey Bill. I found the egg! Since your post, I dedicate at approx. 2 miles of each ride to picturing this stupid egg under my foot. Never really got it. Eventually, I'd go back to pushing the pedals. Last night, I rode my favorite ultra-flat route and was working on even cadence and not shifting so much. Well, suddenly, there it was! An egg under my shoe. Okay, so this sounds funny...I guess it just finally clicked. I kept at it for a couple-three miles and, while it required a bit more exhertion, I was faster.

For what its worth, I thought I'd share... (thankx)
Good for you, you warmed my heart. Nice to know that thebill
Jun 28, 2001 11:33 AM
time I fritter away here may mean something to somebody (besides me, and besides my children, whom I sometimes imagine hungry and bereft because Daddy has an Internet/cycling jones).
re: Morning Muscle Weaknesssteeveo
Jun 28, 2001 9:26 AM
The numbness and subsequent loss of motor control spread over such a wide area of your upper body could indicate a pinched nerve or pressured nerve in your neck. As a new cyclist, and with the setup you describe, you're a prime candidate. Do you have any neck pain?
A good stretch to relieve your trap tightness...AlexR
Jun 28, 2001 9:53 AM
Is the old "touch your toes" hamstring stretch. OK - you have to picture it.

When you're on the saddle, leaning forward onto the bars, you're back should be as straight as if you were standing erect. Your very straight back should be pivoted forward at the hips/waist, not curled at the abdomen. To achieve this position you must have flexible hamstrings. Think of it as putting yourself 2/3 of the way into a toe touch for a sustained period (think of where your body must pivot when you lean to touch your toes).

To the point - flexible hamstrings and a straight back will relieve a great deal of pressure form your traps. Good for the lower back as well.

In Addition to All the AboveJon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2001 10:28 AM
In addition to all the above excellent advice, once you have checked your bike fit and done the necessary medical follow-up, try including in your strength training program back extensions. Lie face down on the floor with your hands behind your head or back and raise your shoulders as high off the floor as possible. Build up to about 80 repetitions two or three times per week. This exercise helped me maintain a flat back, without hunching and collapsing my diaphragm and shoulders, when climbing or otherwise riding hard. This should help with the tired traps and arms. By the way, if you're not doing a bike-specific weight training program, you should be. Good luck.
Jun 28, 2001 10:52 AM
Thanks for all the advice...this really helps. I think that Doug and Steveo are probably right. "Muscle weakness" wasn't the best term to describe it...its more like arms falling asleep w/out the tingling sensation. My BP was checked last week and is fine. I have some pain in my shoulders (traps). They're really tight. But no sudden, sharp pain, nor pain in my neck. My PT also told me to first call my Dr. and get a referal. I'm waiting the referal now. I was so excited to find that Loyola has a trainer who is edumicated about bike fitting. I just spoke to her, and the fitting is rolled into the initial PT evaluation, so its covered by insurance. Doesn't get much better than that! The big quesion weighing on my mind is: If the problem is pressure on a nerve, being caused by the way my bike fits, then should I avoid doing 60 miles? How much worse could my symptoms get? I can't afford to wake up crippled on Sunday--I'm driving. :-)
Here I go again ...bianchi boy
Jun 28, 2001 2:40 PM
I would try raising your handlebars. A 4" drops seems very extreme for most riders. I have ranted about this before, and I'm sure others are sick of it by now, but I don't think the trend toward lower handlebars is good for many (if not most) riders. I've been riding more than 25 years and it may just be the retrogrouch in me, but in the old days bikes were set up so the bars were about even with the height of the saddle or maybe an inch lower. With the trend toward lower bars you be more aero, but you are also shifting a lot more weight toward the handlebars. In my case, I developed prolonged numbness in my hands after getting a new bike with handlebars 3-4" below the saddle. I have since bought a new bike with handlebars nearly level with the saddle and my hands are getting better by the day. By the way, another problem caused by low handlebars can be pinched nerves in your neck from having to bend your neck to see the road ahead. Low bars also extends your reach quite a bit, so it can cause your elbows to lock and get sore.
You had to go there didn't you?Kristin
Jun 28, 2001 3:40 PM
I think I mentioned above that I can't bring up the bars anymore on this stem. Actually, I'm breaking the rules a bit as it is. I'm .5cm over the max mark on the quill. A very knowledgeable friend has suggested going to a threadless adapter and getting a positive rise stem. I'm going to meet with this PT and athletic trainer/bike fitter before spending any $$'s though.

Heres the kicker. I've been rolling this around in my head for weeks now. I think--after everything--that the bike might be too small. (Ya think?) When the bike was setup for me, I was told that 15cm of seat post showing is quite normal. But discovering that I don't have enough quill to match seat height tells me the fit is may-be-not-so-good. Oh well, I'm resigned. I like the bike and there're things I can do to fix the problem. I'm figure most people don't get the fit right on first attempt. I doubt (hoping here) that it won't kill me.
You had to go there didn't you?bw
Jun 28, 2001 4:55 PM
Try a Profile H2O stem or a Nitto stem. These are much taller
than most stems and may get the bars up high enough to help
Check Your FlexibilityJon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2001 5:35 PM

Check your flexibility. If you can bend over and place both palms on the floor, then you are flexible enough to tolerate a 10cm. seat/stem height differential. Actually, if you were not flexible enough for this differential, you would probably be experiencing some lower back muscle fatigue on rides. The trapezius pain and arm numbness to me indicate a fit problem relating to length of stem plus top tube and/or a possible chiropractic problem causing the nerve entrapment. Trapezius and shoulder pain usually are caused by a too-short top tube/stem combination.
Nitto stemsbianchi boy
Jun 28, 2001 7:49 PM
BTW, I bought a Nitto stem through the RBR classifieds for $20. You can buy one new for $35 from rivendell bikes, or get your bike shop to order one.
Thoughts from a retro grouch..DINOSAUR
Jun 28, 2001 7:56 PM
15cm=5.9 inches. That is not an excessive amount of seat post.
Upper shoulder and neck pain is common for folks that are new to the sport.

I gotta say this, and I don't mean to sound like a jerk but I have never encountered a person who has encountered so much trouble in such a short period of time.

Has it occurred to you that maybe you just need to ease into this sport and learn as you go along? Cycling takes years, (YEARS), not months or weeks. You can't expect to buy a bike and be riding centuries in a couple of months. You have to learn stuff as you go along. Read, ride with experienced cyclist, ride, ride, ride...

Maybe I'm just an old retro grouch but I can't see logging onto an internet cycling forum and expect anyone here to provide you with a magic anwser. Most of the responses you dismiss anyway.

You have a book available to you (Zinn) that has a whole section regarding fit (appendix C). Why don't you read it and see if your bike is properly set up for starters.

Maybe I'm out of step with the times, but what is wrong with learning from experience as you go along? No one wants to learn anymore, they want everything NOW.

O.K., maybe I blew it, I've thought long a hard about entering this, but let the cards fall where they may. Rome wasn't built overnight. Give it some time...

Some people think that as soon as you plant a tree, it must bear fruit. We must allow it to grow a bit.
Prince Tunku Putra
Abdul Rahman
Take me on a magical mystery tour...Kristin
Jun 28, 2001 10:36 PM
You'll have to show me where I asked for a magic fit answer for my bike. My other personalities have been quite sneaking lately. Perhaps one of them posted this question while I wasn't looking. But I, Kristin, was only asking about whether or not anyone had a similar experience, and if I should cancel a metric century scheduled for Saturday.

I posted here because I suspected I wouldn't get a response from my Dr. today, and didn't. This was my next best bet. First rule of prepared to leave with lighter pockets.

I recieved some extremely useful responses about muscle fatigue, stretching, etc... You're first post, Dino, was very good. Thanks for that info. Don't worry, I'm not asking for a perfect world. Its the trials and tribulations of life that build character.
We are on different pages and I'll leave it at that NMDINOSAUR
Jun 28, 2001 11:09 PM
I think that both you and Dinosaur needto listen a little harderbill
Jun 29, 2001 9:07 AM
to each other, which, in the cyber world, ain't easy. You both seem to have a point, but I think that Dinosaur could have said his piece with a little more understanding for how hard you seem to be willing to work, and I think that you should recognize that Dinosaur has a point about building from the bottom up, which takes time.
Metric century this weekend? You know the answer better than anyone -- are you willing to live with the pain, because you know it's going to hurt if you do more of what you've been doing (and you know it's going to hurt more than it's been hurting)? Or are you going to figure out what is the dillio and ride longer distances when you're out of pain?
The more I do this, the more I realize that nothing about this sport is supposed to hurt other than by pushing your body towards good hurt, when you're ready, when you know about challenging your body. If you've got bad hurt/weird hurt from 30 mile rides, you're doing something wrong. You either accept this and ride through it, because that's the way you want to go about learning, or you seek knowledge and experience and address it from the bottom up, accepting that you can't even know what you don't know for awhile. You seem, Kristin, to be trying to do a little bit of both, which may be right for you, but, as Dino says, there really is no substitute for experience. After your exhaustive search, after you've had your bike how long, with 1000 miles on it, and now you're wondering whether it's too small? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't fault you for making a mistake if you've made one, and maybe that's the way it has to be for you, but the guys that have been doing this the longest (and I'm not including myself, btw) keep telling you to slow down a little and stop trying so hard, and maybe they know something you don't -- that you have to slow down a little and stop trying so hard if you want to do this the way you seem to want to do it, which is well, which is laudatory, but which cannot be done quickly.
And lordy I've said enough.
Good point...DINOSAUR
Jun 29, 2001 12:28 PM
Good point and I agree, I should have selected my words more carefully. There is no substitute for experience and I have paid the price many times over. I don't know which is worse; being old and tired and trying to stay motivated, or being young and enthusiastic and wanting to excel without going through a long period of trials and errors. I guess the truth lies in that all of us never learn all there is to know about anything. That's why the pro's have trainers and coaches. Armstrong never really excelled until he learned to listen. This sport is really so simple, and at the same time very complicated. I'd just rather being out riding my bike on a cool summer morning and listen to nothing but the sound of my tires traveling over the pavement and the wind rustling through the majestic
ponderosa pines that abound me on both sides of the road. Time is hounding me and I can't crank out the miles like I did in the years gone by. At times I can be an old grouch, and thanks Bill for being the peacemake in this discussion. It's never to late for an old dog to learn new tricks. I apologize to Kristin, life goes on, heck I've been bickering with my Italian wife for over 35 years. Bickering is what keeps me going....

I've always liked this saying;
"To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches".
"This sport is really so simple, and at the same time verybill
Jun 29, 2001 1:08 PM
Boy is that a mouthful. Substitute "life" for "sport," and that about says it all.
BTW, not only is my wife Italian-American, but so am I. And we're both lawyers. Bickering? HAH.
Try Italian-Portuguese:DINOSAUR
Jun 29, 2001 5:03 PM
Mad one minute, then 30 seconds later forgot what she was mad about.
Like living with an active volcano...
that last part, about forgetting what she's mad about?bill
Jul 1, 2001 2:06 PM
that must be the Portuguese part.
What magnificence that mine eyes behold!Kristin
Jul 1, 2001 7:41 PM
Eegads, is that a hill?

I just rolled in from the trip. Thanks for the post. You're right, of course, that only I can decide whether or not a ride is good for me. I had already paid, so I was hoping to justify doing the longer ride (most bang for my buck). Though, deep down I knew it'd probably make things worse. Until Friday night, one fact had escaped me. As we drove over part of the course I realized that I was in WISCONSIN! My eyes saw the hills, my mind said, "Whoa! 30 sounds like a nice number." The decision became quite simple.

I must say, I developed an affinity for hills this weekend. It felt really (REALLY) good to conquer something seemingly so daunghting. It helped, too, that I was out in front. The mental aspect of chasing backsides was gone. On the way home, I caught myself planning a return trip to do the climb thru Devils Lake. Its a beautiful road and goes up for at least 4 miles. It'll take me all day, but somehow seems like fun--granted, I'm not sure why? :-)

Dino, I was taken aback by your message, but I'm not offended. No harm, no foul. You did have a point. Okay, I'm off to find a therapist now!
Jun 29, 2001 7:44 AM
Just a few thoughts on the bar/stem issue.

It is going to take some time. Not everyone (not many people actually) can go directly to a position with a deep drop. Also your position will change as your fitness level increases. And eventually you may find yourself back to that bar/stem combo you are currently using.

A stem with a range of adjustment would be your best interim solution. Although I dont normally suggest stems that have an adjustable ange, it may be the best solution for you for now.

Other options are long quilled stems like the Nitto. Or stems with some positive rise. Generally they have single bolt clamps and when you change your stem in order to change your reach, you need to remove bar tape and one of the levers. Availability is an issue because there are just not many decent bike shops in this area that would carry something like this. (Chicago area really sucks for bikers, but that is a whole different thread all together..)

The other option is getting a threadless quill adapter, and a threadless stem with removable faceplate. Most of them have some sort of rise, and will allow you to flip/flop the stem to change the height, along with some height adjustment on the quill adapter. Availability of threadless stems is becoming much better, and are much easier to change.

I will get a look at your position as you are riding and see if I notice anything particularly wrong. I will bring out the MTB the next few times and lead out some of the folks in the other groups.

Enjoy the ride Sunday! You missed a good ride thursday, it was raining....

Hey, wheres the pictures?

Chicago biking...Stampertje
Jun 29, 2001 9:09 AM
Where /when / how do you ride? I'm in the Chicago area for summer (Fermilab) and would like to ride with some other people. I may not be able to fit anything in my schedule but I'd sure like to try.