STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK

Cycling Plus - - GEAR GUIDE -

Paul Hough (@the_hough), lead sport/ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist at St Mary’s Univer­sity and au­thor of Ad­vanced Per­sonal Train­ing ex­plains how…

WHAT IS IT?

The neck be­gins at the base of the skull and con­nects to the tho­racic spine (the up­per back) through a se­ries of seven ver­te­bral seg­ments, termed the cer­vi­cal spine.

HOW IT WORKS?

The neck con­sists of a num­ber of mus­cles, which in­clude the ster­n­oclei­do­mas­toid and trapez­ius. The neck mus­cles in­ter­act to ini­ti­ate move­ment of the head in all di­rec­tions and also con­tract to ad­just the pos­ture of the head.

WHAT GOES WRONG?

Road cycling in­volves ex­tended pe­ri­ods where the neck is hy­per­ex­tended (tilted back­wards), par­tic­u­larly when the bike is set up with a large han­dle­bar drop, when rid­ing a time trial, for ex­am­ple. This po­si­tion can cause the deep neck ex­ten­sors to be­come fa­tigued and stiff. When this oc­curs the trapez­ius mus­cle, which orig­i­nates from the base of the skull to the shoul­der, be­gins to sup­port the weight of the head. Over time, cy­clists can de­velop stiff­ness and pain in the up­per trapez­ius and neck mus­cles.

HOW TO FIX IT?

Raise your han­dle­bar slightly and change hand po­si­tions at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. En­sure there is al­ways a slight bend at the el­bows, as this eases the stress placed on the neck and shoul­ders. Lower trapez­ius ex­er­cises should be per­formed two to three times per week along­side stretch­ing ex­er­cises and mas­sage.

Rid­ing for long pe­ri­od­scan­cause the­neck­mus­cles to tire and be­come stiff

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