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Upper back pain(4 posts)

Upper back paintad
Mar 1, 2002 5:46 AM
Something has been going on with my upper back for about the last month. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but it's a pain in between my shoulder blades (more towards the right side). I can feel it the most when I do a stretch that brings my shoulder blades together. I keep thinking it will go away, but it's been going on for about a month now.

Based on that extremely technical description, does anyone have any advice or information to offer up? Thanks for the help.
re: Upper back painTig
Mar 1, 2002 6:55 AM
I can't remember NOT going a week or two without pain there, but not from cycling. Pain between the scapulas is common thanks to stress. I've always been the family masseur and find this is one of those areas that doesn't heal quickly. Massage is the best and quickest healer I know of. If you don't have the $ for a massage therapist or you don't have any family that can do at least a decent massage, look for a massage therapy school in your area. They have great rates. Also shop around for a hand held massager like the Homedics one below. You can sometimes get them on sale. I never thought these were worth a damn, but after using one, I'm convinced!

If you've made any position changes with your bike, that could explain the source. You may also need to raise your bars or brake hoods a little. Learning to relax a little more could help. If you feel your shoulders bunching up or feeling tight when riding, that could cause pain. Scroll down about halfway in this article to read Ian Jackson's method of neck and upper back relaxation techniques while on the bike.
re: Upper back painmixinbeatz
Mar 1, 2002 8:28 AM
I had this problem for a while a few years ago when I got a new bike and it was easily fixed. Make sure that your reach is not too far. I thought I was comfortable but shortened my stem 1.5 cm and it made a world of difference. Also, try and relax your upper body when you are on the bike, keep your elbows in and try not to expend any extra energy with your upper body to leave more for the legs.
Upper back pain (long)Steve Davis
Mar 1, 2002 8:36 AM
I too have been experiencing the same exact symptoms you describe.

As background, I ride about 4500 miles each year and have had occasional twinges between the shoulder blades on long rides, but nothing too serious. Recently however, the pain is much more noticeable and doesn't go away after the ride. As a result, I've been going to a chiropractor and a message therapist for the past 2-3 months and it is helping some (massage more than chiro).

I am happy to say that I think I have found the cause of my problem. It appears that the reach to my handlebars is too long.

Not long ago, I saw a photo of me taken at a century last year and it looked like my shoulders were hunched up a little toward my ears. I always thought I had pretty good form so this surprised me. I've become more conscience of this on my rides and find myself hunching my shoulders up particularly when I'm fatigued. I understand this is a common thing when the reach is too long and the problem with doing this is that all road shock gets transmitted up into the rhomboids and trapezoids in the upper back. Kevin Lippert is a coach with CTS and this is something I read on his website (
"If your stem is too long, it will stretch your back out too far. Causing your shoulders to come up towards your ears. This means upper back pain and soreness in the rhomboids and trapezoids. It also means, that the rider cannot flatten his or her back correctly. They will always want to have a hump in their shoulders. A shorter stem has less torsion flex, so when you sprint or climb, your handlebars are rock solid. Meaning greater power transfer into your bike. In my eyes, everyone’s bike fit should be so good that you only need a 10 to 11 cm stem".

I have since reviewed my fit and have concluded that the stem on my bike needs to be shortened. I used the wrench science and ergobike fitting sites along with an old fit kit I had done in 1999 to confirm this to be the case.

I think there are two reason why my back is bothering me now and not before. 1) I recently changed my seat post from a Thomson to a Campy which has more of a set-back and resulted in a further increase in my reach, and 2) I've been riding my fixed gear bike more this winter and the fork is more harsh than the carbon fiber one on my road bike.

Hope my experience helps you with your problem. Here are some links I found helpful.

Links to bike fit:

Link to back stretches and exercises: