Cycling Aches and Pains

Cycling Oxford Winter

The human body is very adaptable, but sitting on a three inch leather saddle for several hours on end is not exactly how the human body evolved.

When cycling the odd ache and pain is an inevitable part of the experience, but to a large extent they can be mitigated. Aches and pains are often a gentle warning and reminder to try and take preventative action.

Sore Neck

A sore neck can be caused by having to keep the head looking up.

  • It maybe due to a top tube which is too long
  • A very aerodynamic position which puts pressure on head to look up.
  • Handlebars set too low.

Things to Try::

  • When riding at certain intervals change positions try to release tension around the shoulders by sitting up, keeping back straight and neck looking up.
  • Try raising the handlebars


Sore Lower Back

  • Often caused by keeping a low (aerodynamic) position on the bike.
  • Saddle too high

Things to try:

  • This can be mitigated by improving core strength such as doing sit ups.
  • Raising handlebars and using shorter stem.
  • Change position during ride
  • Check you have the correct saddle height
  • People have different flexibilities in the back. If you wanting a more aerodynamic position, get used to it gradually. But, just because someone else can

Sore Hands

Some riders complain of prickly pins and needles in the hands after long rides. This can occur if the arms are stretched out leading to compression of the ulnar nerve (also known as handlebar palsy)

Things to Try:

  • Relieve pressure points by changing grip.
  • Give yourself chance to cycle without holding on to handlebars.
  • Wear gloves with good shock absorbers gel mittens.

Sore Groin

No laughing matter. Cycling places much weight and stress on this small part of the anatomy.

  • Choose saddle carefully. I find a saddle with cut out in middle of saddle helpful.
  • Be wary of putting saddle at an angle slopping down.
  • Be disciplined in getting out of the saddle (especially if doing a time trial. I have learnt to my cost, the pain of keeping in a certain position for one hour solid in a one hundred mile Time trial)
  • See also: Dealing with saddle sore

Sore Knees

could be due to:



  • Check your position on the bike to make sure it is comfortable and a good set up. Make sure you are not overstretched or in an unnatural position.
  • Change position on bike during ride. Don’t wait for pain, pre-empt it by regularly shifting your position and giving muscles chance to relax.
  • It is good practise to be able to let go of handlebars and cycle with vertical back. This allows you to get rid of stress and tension in the back. (It is also nice to be able to eat on the move)
  • Incorporate weight training / core strength exercises. These will give you greater stability and strength to hold your position on the bike.
  • Learn to distinguish between general tiredness and aches and pains which are warning signs to improve position. Don’t become paranoid about every ache and pain, but persistent pain is a signal to take preventative action.

One Response to Cycling Aches and Pains

  1. Jonny McMillan May 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Hi there,

    I stumbled upon your blog and saw this article on aches and pains and thought I would write a response.

    I have been using a product called Quick Energy (an energy shot) for the past couple of months to help me with my gym and bike training and found it to be really helpful. Although it doesn’t directly help the soreness experienced from your body position on the bike, it helps muscle soreness greatly!

    I take this 15 mins before training and find it to give me a long lasting supply of energy. Unlike other energy drinks it doesn’t have any sugar in it which means you don’t get an insulin spike and then a crash later on in the day. The energy comes from B-Vitamins and Amino Acids- much healthier I’m sure you would agree! It also only has 5 calories!

    I have seen Quick Energy in Holland and Barrett, petrol stations and waitrose and I think they retail at around £1.99 per shot.

    Anyway I’m writing this to share my experience of the product with you and your readers. I find the shot to be really effective. Give it a go if you see it around and let me know what you think.

    Kind regards,


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