Can Cycling Cause Neck Pain: 13 Reasons & Prevention

The 13 Reasons & Prevention of Cycling Neck Pain

Yes, you can get neck pain in cycling for various reasons. For example, your bike fit can affect your neck position and cause muscle strain and tension. Sometimes, neck pain signals a more serious issue.

It is common for cyclists to suffer from neck and back pain, with up to 60% of them suffering from the condition. According to a 1996 report, 30% of elite cyclists suffered from neck or back pain. This is often caused by carrying too much weight.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the factors contributing to neck pain in cycling, including bike fit, cycling posture, riding environment, and riding habits. We’ll also discuss some prevention techniques to help you manage your neck pain and enjoy a more comfortable and pain-free ride.

Can Cycling Cause Neck Pain: 13 Reasons

13 Reasons Cycling Causes Neck Pain

Several factors, such as bike fit, cycling posture, ride environment, and riding habits, can lead to neck pain, which can lead to headaches. Here are some reasons for neck pain while cycling.

Bike Fit

Your bike’s fit plays a significant role in alleviating or causing neck pain. Here are the key areas to take into account:

  • Saddle height: A saddle that’s too high or too low can cause neck pain by compromising your body’s alignment.
  • Handlebar position: A handlebar that’s too far or close can cause neck pain by forcing your body into awkward situations.
  • Stem length: A too-long or short stem can cause neck pain by placing you in an uncomfortable position.
  • Frame size: A bike that’s not the correct frame size can force you into a poor cycling position, leading to neck pain.

Cycling Positions

Your position while cycling can also contribute to neck pain. Improper alignment of the following areas can put unnecessary strain on your neck:

  • Head and neck position: The position of your head and neck can impact your spinal alignment, leading to neck pain. It is possible to avoid neck pain by cycling in the correct position.
  • Shoulders and upper body alignment: If your shoulders and upper body are not correctly aligned, this can translate to discomfort in your neck.
  • Pelvis, hips, and lower body alignment: The alignment of your pelvis, hips, and lower body can affect your spinal alignment and contribute to neck pain.

Riding Conditions

The conditions in which you cycle can also cause neck pain. Consider the following areas:

  • Road conditions: Uneven or rough road surfaces can create vibrations that transfer up your body, leading to discomfort.
  • Cycling speed: Riding at high speeds or undertaking sudden acceleration and deceleration can also lead to neck pain.
  • Weather: Exposure to extreme weather conditions like strong wind, heat, and cold can contribute to neck pain.

Riding Habits

Neck Pain Caused by Cycling Riding Habits

Your cycling habits can influence your chances of developing neck pain. Cyclist neck syndrome arises from prolonged neck extension, resulting in fatigue in the deep neck extensors and stiffness in the trapezius muscle, culminating in persistent pain. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Frequency and Duration of Cycling: Overcycling could lead to sore muscles and neck pain.
  • Training Intensity and Volume: Too much intensity or volume can cause your body to fatigue, leading to other issues.
  • Rest and Recovery Practices: Proper recovery time is necessary to ensure your muscles have time to heal and prepare for upcoming cycling sessions.

Cycling & Neck Pain: Prevention Strategies

Proper prevention and treatment strategies allow you to easily manage and alleviate pain to ensure an enjoyable cycling experience. We will delve into some practical measures that can help minimize neck pain and promote better cycling performance.

Regular Rest Breaks During Long Rides

Taking a break can be a great way to reduce pressure on your neck from your cycling posture. You should aim for regular intervals of 20-30 minutes, depending on your cycling performance. Taking minutes off your bike can also help stretch your neck muscles, promoting better oxygenation and blood flow.

Proper Warm-Up And Cool-Down Routines

A good warm-up and cool-down routine can help alleviate stiffness and soreness in the neck, reducing your chances of developing neck pain. Simple exercises like neck rotations or shrugs can be incorporated into your routine for an added benefit.

Cycling & Neck Pain: Treatment Strategies

We will provide valuable insights and treatment strategies to help you stay pain-free while pursuing your cycling passion.

The Affected Area Is Heated or Cooled

Applying heat or cold to the affected area is a great way to manage neck pain. Heat helps to loosen stiff muscles and increase blood flow, while cold can reduce pain and inflammation by numbing the area.

Hot or cold packs can be used regularly for 20-30 minutes on both the left and right sides to promote faster healing.

Over-the-counter Pain Relief Medication

Medication available over the counter can provide temporary relief from neck pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen or Naproxen can reduce pain and inflammation resulting from neck pain. However, ensure that you follow the dosage instructions from your doctor or pharmacist.

Medical Treatment Options

Medical Treatment Options for Cycling Neck Pain

When neck pain worsens or persists, seeking medical attention is essential. You can find out the cause of your neck pain, including a herniated disc or nerve compression. You might need physical therapy, chiropractic care, or surgery, depending on the diagnosis.


Neck pain is a common problem for many cyclists, but it doesn’t have to be a limiting factor in your cycling journey. By understanding neck pain causes and implementing effective prevention and treatment strategies, such as proper bike fit, good posture, and regular rest breaks, you can stay pain-free and enjoy all the benefits of cycling.

Remember to prioritize your neck health while cycling and seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe pain. With a bit of care and attention, you can keep pedaling strong and keep your neck happy.


Cycling can be effective for cervical spondylosis with proper precautions. Incorporate neck strengthening exercises, manage pain, and start with short periods on any bike to ensure symptoms don’t worsen.

Pelvis, buttocks, and lower back pain can be caused by sitting in the saddle. One condition to be aware of is called pudendal neuropathy. Too much sitting in the saddle causes this chronic pelvic pain. Cyclists may need regular rest breaks and time off to reduce the risk.

You can understand why cycling can result in significant shoulders: leaning forward with a substantial amount of weight and tilting your chin up to keep your eyes on the road are two factors that can cause significant shoulders. You also have vibrations from the road surface and jolts from potholes.

The best position for cycling to avoid neck pain is to keep your chin tucked in, maintain a long neck, and ensure your shoulder blades are down and pulled back.

This posture helps prevent ‘pinched’ nerves around the shoulders, promoting comfort and reducing strain on the neck while cycling. Following these guidelines can significantly alleviate neck pain during cycling.

Try hot and cold therapy with ice packs or heating pads to cure neck pain fast at home. Consider over-the-counter medications for relief. Additionally, neck pain exercises should be performed to help alleviate discomfort quickly.

Yes, there is a connection between an ear infection and cycling neck pain. Inflammation or infection in the ear can lead to pain felt in the neck due to interconnected nerves. This referred pain happens as the nerves from the ear and neck share pathways, sending pain signals to the brain.

Cycling neck pain during a sinus infection can be due to inflammation causing swelling in the sinuses, leading to pressure that manifests as neck pain. The posture during cycling can strain neck muscles, especially if they’re already sensitive due to the infection. Swollen lymph nodes from the infection can also put pressure on nearby structures, contributing to pain and tenderness in the neck.

Yes, neck pain after riding a motorcycle or cycling can hinder your experience. The discomfort may stem from factors like riding position, bike setup, ride duration, and stress. Check your motorcycle gear too, as it could also play a part in causing the issue.

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