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Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?(12 posts)

Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?SDR
Mar 12, 2002 6:51 AM
I realize that there is something wrong with my fit, but I am at a loss as to what's wrong. My local shop said that my cockpit was too short, so I put on a longer stem. Althought it's better, I am still feeling the shoulder/back fatigue after about 60 minutes. By the way I should mention that I am 5'9" with a very long upper body and ride a 55 C-T (52 c-c)with a 55 cm top tube and a 120mm -6 degree stem. My bar top is about 1 inch below the saddle, so maybe I should raise the bar, but I alread have about 4 cm of spacer. It really sucks having short legs and a long upper body. Any suggestions?
re: Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?look271
Mar 12, 2002 8:14 AM
May want to try a stem w/ positive rise. I use an ITM big one that has + rise. Helped me out alot. Wasn't expensive, either-$40 from my LBS.
re: Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?DINOSAUR
Mar 12, 2002 8:16 AM
I'm stuck with long legs and a short torso in the fit department. You don't say how long you have been riding. It does take a certain amount of upper body strength to maintain position on a road bike. When you are out riding and start to experience these problems what is your body telling you? A 120mm stem on a 55cm c-t bike doesn't sound right. I have a 110cm stem on my 61 c-t Klein. When I start having little aches and pains here and there my inclination to make a couple of adjustments with my set up has always paid off. I can't say if you have the right stem length, but if you have you KNOP dialed in and you are experiencing upper body shoulder and back pain it points to your stem. Can your LBS work with you on a different stem? I rode for a couple of years thinking everyday that I wanted to change stems and one day I finally did it and it solved my problem. Remember also there is no set formula for determing stem length, a lot of it is based on preference, anatomy and what feels comfortable to you. Ever watch videos of the pros ride? Check out the different riding positions and the bends in you elbows. They are all different. Go with what you body tells you, you will be suprised....
re: Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?RandyMH
Mar 12, 2002 8:17 AM
I'm not sure how long you have been riding but I know when I first started and sometimes even now I tend to tighten or tense up the muscles in my upper area when riding. Try to make it a point to totaly relax your shoulders when riding. Most of the time I tighten up and not even know it until I think about it. This also goes for your legs and feet.
Good point. Keep elbows bent & shoulders will feel better. nmmorrison
Mar 12, 2002 10:09 AM
re: Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?JimP
Mar 12, 2002 9:49 AM
I have upper body aches and pains after riding in the spring. Riding the trainer in the winter doesn't exercise the upper body like riding on the road. This doesn't really go away since I tend to ride longer and longer rides during the summer, it just happens later in the ride. I do use aero clip-on bars which allow some rest and relaxation of the shoulders. A lot depends on what feels good to you. I have my seat 5.5 inches above the handlebar height. I know that sounds like a lot, but I did race in triathlons for a number of years and that is what I got used to, to be as aerodynamic as possible. I have tried higher bars but they felt wierd so I have gone back to the low bar, high seat setup. Get what feels good so you can ride and enjoy...
Everyone else has pointed to the stem, but...Ray Sachs
Mar 12, 2002 10:24 AM
what about your saddle position? If you have too much weight on your hands / arms / shoulders, you may need to move your butt farther back relative to your feet so you're more balanced on the bike. Forget KOPS - it's no more than a rule of thumb and starting point. A lot of people are as much as a few centimeters in front of or behind KOPS. I'm personally almost two inches behind KOPS and I'm a high cadence spinner, so that position is not just for strong mashers. You should be able to take your hands off of the bars while you're riding without falling forward. If you can't do that, you're saddle is probably too far forward. For someone with more upper body to keep balanced, I would think this would be a good place to start looking.

Check out, particularly the part about fore-aft saddle placement.

2 words: tilt up.colker
Mar 12, 2002 11:50 AM
that will take weight from the hands! more so than moving the saddle forward. tilting saddle up will most likely relieve pressure on soft issue and move it to sit bones, where it belongs.
Bingo.... we got da winner! ............ nmCT1
Mar 12, 2002 8:44 PM
Get that monkey off your back :-)SnowBlind
Mar 12, 2002 10:28 AM
Seriously, check front/aft weight distribution, extending the stem could have placed you too far forward.
Might want to try a 0 degree stem.
The LBS ought to sit there with a few different stems and check the f/a balance as well.
When you find the one you like, buy one from them.

Also, start doing situps, yeah, it sounds weird, but without strong stomach muscles to resist against, the back muscles get overworked.
re: Why are my shoulders and upper back so tired after riding?SDR
Mar 12, 2002 11:04 AM
I appreciate all the advice. Some have asked how long I have been riding. I have been riding/racing mountain bike since 1992, but started riding a road bike in 1997. I purchased a new larger frame last year since I was feeling cramped on my old 53cm C-T frame, and have been having problems ever since.
on-bike stretchingKerry
Mar 12, 2002 5:45 PM
I get this every spring (more about this point later) and find that it is tied to cold weather and staying in one position on the bike. I visualize it as a "hunker down" effect where I don't turn my head and body as much and just get stiff and tired from holding one position too long. I used to think it was a spring time only problem, but I found that it really was a cold weather problem. Spring rides, stiff shoulders. Summer time, no problem. Cold fall ride, stiff shoulders. Indian Summer (after the cold rides), no problem. For me, it is tied totally to the cold.