Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: danaonabike on July 31, 2006, 03:24:11 am

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: danaonabike on July 31, 2006, 03:24:11 am
I have done one long distance tour from Washington DC to Urbana,IL in 2004 (no training prior to the trip).  My plan was to do the entire US but I had to stop due to severe shoulder pain.  I have finally blocked that painful memory out of my mind and I am training to do a trip from LA, CA to Washington, DC.  

As I train I am noticing the shoulder pain is returning.  I have made some adjustments to my riding such as raising the handle bars, relaxing, and bending my elbows (they used to be locked).  this does help me a little but after 10 miles of riding the pain is very uncomfortable and only gets worse.

The pain is on the outside of the shoulder and feels like someone is drilling through the shoulder joint into my clavical.  My neck and tapaziods are not stiff or sore at all.

I am not sure if this is a joint issue or a ligament or what.  I am hoping someone else has experienced this and has a possible solution/adjustment for me.  I would hate for my futuretrip to end prematurly again due to shoulder pain.

Thanks for your advice

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: wanderingwheel on July 31, 2006, 08:52:18 pm
You've got me stumped on this one, hopefully somebody else here can help.

Until then, and assuming you don't have some sort of chronic injury, here are a few random thoughts.  Does the pain occur in only one arm or both?  You may no longer lock you're elbows, but are you still supporting your upperbody with your arms?  Can you let go of the bar with at least one hand without changing your upper body position and without feeling like you are falling into the handlebar?  

One way I can think of to cause your described pain is to pinch your elbows together and then lean into them.  If your arms are loose, take a look at your hand position.  Maybe moving your hands further apart will help.

Good Luck

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: danaonabike on August 01, 2006, 04:50:32 am
Yes my weight is on my arms.  I can hold myself up if I remove my hands but for most of the ride I am leaning forward with my hands on the bars holding myself up.  I think if is were leaning forward like that without weighting my arms, my lower back would have something to say about that.

Is that not right?

riding with one hand does not change much I do that often.  riding with no hands feels great but makes shifting and turning tricky :-)

my arms are relaxed elbows bent.  also i chnage my grip up often on the bars to try and lessen my discomfort.  no such luck so far.  thanks for your reply though


Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: Toml on August 01, 2006, 11:01:12 am
Which shoulder?  What type of shifters?

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: danaonabike on August 01, 2006, 12:52:48 pm
Both shoulders equally as bad.

I used to have the shifters on the down tube.  just had them moved to up to the bars.  I upgraded to the brakes and shifters in one unit.

same problem before and after the shifters were changed.

fyi I have asked a lot of other cyclists on the road about this and I can't seem to find another person who has this poblem.  this is a last ditch effort for me here.
 if you guys/gals don't know what I'm doing wrong then no one will.  thanks for all the effort.


Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: wanderingwheel on August 01, 2006, 11:21:04 pm
It sounds to me like the problem stems from too much pressure on the hands and arms.  Ideally, you should not be supporting yourself with your arms.  Instead, your should be using your core (abs and back) to hold your upperbody in place, even when you are leaning over.  Even racers in thier low-slung positions have almost no pressure on thier hands.  But remember, they are young, strong, flexible, and rail-thin.  (Pedaling very hard also helps.)

If you feel like your core is not up to the task, consider strengthening it with exercises such as sit-ups (and more sit-ups).  In the mean time, check your on-bike posture and handlebar position again.  For reference, Sheldon Brown has a good series of articles for recreational (non-racing) bike fit.  He suggests also making sure that the saddle is close to level and not severely nose-down.


Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: pmspirito on August 06, 2006, 09:53:33 pm
This is the third post if a pain complaint topic tonight on this forum.  Buy a recumbent and all of your pain will go away.

best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito
Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: danaonabike on August 25, 2006, 11:44:35 pm

Thanks for the info I have spent the last several weeks since the post trying different solutions from the websites mentioned above.

I believe Textwanderingwheel you are 100% correct on the weight issues on my hands.  i have tried holding up my torso while riding and it helps for as long as I can keep the weights off.  I ride an old Peguot tourmelet 1981-ish.  I have the seat post adjusted for an as far of an agle as it will go and it is still not level.  It is leaning just slightly forward.  

I also think the frame may be too big for me.

The result is while riding I consantly feel like I am falling off the seat.  I then have to hold onto the handlebars and PUSH myself back into the seat so I do not slide forward onto the top tube.  

My solutions so far have been to peddle much harder and this aleviates some pressure on my hands (and increases my averaage speeed to 23 mph while commuting :)

I spend a good deal of time focusing on not putting pressure on my hands.

I ride for miles at a time sitting up on the bike with no hands and thereby resting my entire upper body.

Still the pain persists, as these solutions are only fleeting in a 4 hour bike ride, but I am able to increase my distances before it becomes unbearable I can do a century now without too much lingering pain afterward.

**another question here is how can I solve this issue of the top tube being too long?  This bike is hard to find parts for as the sizing is all wrong or outdated.  so replacing parts is not out of the questions just not sure what parts will fit the bike. ie one store owner actually laughed in my face when I asked about replacing the stem and forks on the bike.  He told me just to uy a new bike and he would give me a good deal on one (I don't shop there anymore).

I wonder why it is impossible to level the seat?  at its fully adjusted positon it is still slighty angled down.

any soltuions to adjusting for a too long top tube would be helpful


Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: reinarz on August 29, 2006, 08:00:49 pm
You might try riding a different type bike since your posture seems to be the problem. A so called comfort bike  might be the answer. On this bike one sits almost upright.

I ride an Electra Bike Townie 23. Try one out at your local bike shop. RANS also makes models as well.

If you try one out, I would certainly like to hear your reaction.

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: Sailariel on August 29, 2006, 10:13:35 pm
I have Martin-Gruber Syndrome which, to make a long story short causes my hands to go numb and my dhoulders to ache. My solution was to raise my handlebars considerably and pad my handlebars with gel tape and silicone pads(Aztec Brand) I also don`t push as hard--after all cycling is supposed to be fun. I manage 10 to 15 miles daily in some rather hilly terrain and am planning a Maine to S.F.> trip in 2007. I did end up going to a Pro Cycle shop to get fitted for my bike. The $40.00 was well worth it. Hope that info helps.

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: pmspirito on August 30, 2006, 07:36:17 am
Dana, I have been following your post and I have been in your place. I am 57 years old and have riddden all my life. Accumulated injuries and "old age" left me to where I was not able to ride two days in a row it was that bad. I was so discouraged because my dream to tour had become the impossible dream. Several years ago at the urging of my wife Judy I bought an inexpensive ($400.00)recumbent bike and my dream has become my reality. Check out the Sun Bicycles EZ-1 at This is like riding a lawn chair. I can ride 50-60 miles day after day.  :)

best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito
Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: TheDaltonBoys on August 30, 2006, 05:31:36 pm
Dana - as a own-no-car cyclist with both a touring upright bicycle and a recumbent tadpole trike I have to agree with all of the combined wisdom of previous posts. Proper position is critical on an upright 2-wheeled bicycle in order to prevent most if not all pain from riding which I've managed to overcome by proper fitting. Since acquisition of my recumbent there is no pain...I'm not as fast but then I'm just taking in the view from an incredibly comfortable seat!! One or both options should take care of your pain. enjoy the Voyage....Mark of the Dalton Boys

Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: pmspirito on August 30, 2006, 07:07:32 pm
A curious point about "fast".  I used to have to be fast just to get to the end of the ride before the pain got to the end of me.  Now I relax, site-see, I have a whole different mind set.  I do supported multi-day trips and at the end of the day we all arrive at the same camp ground. Fast, slow, who cares.

best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito
Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: danaonabike on September 29, 2006, 05:29:49 pm
***** Final Update *******

Let me begin with saying my shoulder pain is gone!!

You should know that when i purchased my Peugot (used) i was under the impression that bikes came in three sizes, kids, mountain, and road.  I was completely unaware that bicycles were fitted sometimes to the millimeter.  Turns out that was the begining of my problem.  The peugot was not just a little to big for me.  It was WAY to big for me. I'm 5'9" and my friend 6'6" rode my bike and said it felt comfortable if not a little long in the top tube.  riding this bike for so many years has just been compounding the problem.

Since I am planning my trip to Washington DC i went out and purchased a new touring bike.  REI Novara Randonee 47CM (their smallest frame).  I then took this in to have it fitted for me.  They shortened the stem even more, making the length form my set to the bars shorter.  

it is like night and day between the two bikes. On my new bike (all stock equipment except the stem and 700x23 road tires) i can ride for hours and hours and just have fun.  no pain and almost no fitigue with all those gears I maintain a steady cadance up hill or down.  My hands are light on the bars and i have very little trouble holding myself up (started a core workout routine on a exercise ball)

My, much younger, brother who rides with me regularly said he has noticed a marked increase in my speed and stamina.   translated means my 22 year old brother is having to actualy work to keep up with me.

While i did consider a recumbant bike I opted to stay with the upright.  I have too much fun going up and over and arround places that a road bike has no business going.  

Thanks to all your advice and I hope to see you out there on the open road fully loaded and on an adventure.


Title: Shoulder Pain solutions?
Post by: driftlessregion on September 29, 2006, 08:47:27 pm
Excellent! I paid $100 4 years ago on a fit and it was the best money I've spent bicycling. Glad you're comfortable!