Written by ALP Cycles Coach Brianna Walle

One of the more common injury types amongst cyclists are shoulder-related. We spend countless hours bent over on the on the bike (in combination with desk-work) which could lead to “rolled shoulders”/ poor posture and eventually, injury.

Many factors contribute to shoulder issues: a poor bike fit, lack of core strength, hours working at a desk, incorrect handlebar/stem size, etc. The 1st goal is to locate the root issue contributing to your pain and try to resolve. This might mean bike modifications or taking more breaks to stand up from desk work. The 2nd goal is to keep up with shoulder-strength and chest-stretches/openers as part of your strength/stretching routine.

Typically, as cyclists, we have a strong, tight front-end ( Pectorals aka “pecs”) and weak, out-stretched back-end- shoulder and back muscles (specifically: Trapezius aka “Traps”, Deltoids, Rhomboideus Minor/Major aka “Rhomboids” and scapular stabilizing muscles to name a few. This is due to the nature of the bike position and being hunched over. In my own experience, I had kept up with other strength work but failed to focus on strengthen my shoulders and stretch my pecs. I also worked at a desk for many years, the combination ultimately contributed to poor posture. After seeking help from my Physical Therapist, I learned 9 key stretches and strengthening exercises that every cyclist should know. Since I’ve incorporated the exercises into my strength routine, my posture has improved and I’m feeling far less pain. These are easy to do on the road, at home or at the gym.

Stretching/Self-massaging ~ I do the below 2 x’s a day, 20-30 sec holds

Pec Opener w/ stability/exercise ball- Elbows bent at 90 degrees, palms to the sky, rotate shoulders away from ears and back. Do in several ranges until you feel the sweet spot.

Pec Opener w/ stability/exercise ball- Elbows bent at 90 degrees, palms to the sky, rotate shoulders away from ears and back. Do in several ranges until you feel the sweet spot.

Pec opener with full-size foam roller- Similar to using the stability ball, but using a full-length foam roller. Try different angles to feel the stretch

Pec opener with full-size foam roller- Similar to using the stability ball, but using a full-length foam roller. Try different angles to feel the stretch

Pec opener: Use a Theraband or something similar (yoga rope or bathrobe belt.) Start overhead and rotate hands/back and behind. Shoulders are away from ears and rotated back.

Pec opener: Use a Theraband or something similar (yoga rope or bathrobe belt.) Start overhead and rotate hands/back and behind. Shoulders are away from ears and rotated back.

Pec Smash: Use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or racketball. Find that sweet spot and use the wall to control pressure

Pec Smash: Use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or racketball. Find that sweet spot and use the wall to control pressure

Strengthening ~ I do the below 3-4 times a week, 2 sets of 10-15 reps. I find using a Theraband is sufficient, easy to do at home and easy to pack away for travel . I’ll also use weighted machines in place of Theraband.

Theraband External Rotation- (works  Rotator Cuff ) Palms facing sky, place towel between elbow and side to keep shoulder stabilized, rotate palm away keeping shoulder still

Theraband External Rotation- (works Rotator Cuff) Palms facing sky, place towel between elbow and side to keep shoulder stabilized, rotate palm away keeping shoulder still

Theraband  Scapular  stabilizing- Grip as if you’re holding ski poles. Arms at just below chest height, drop shoulders back and down (away from ears). Squeeze shoulders as if you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. Pull the band down and back .

Theraband Scapular stabilizing- Grip as if you’re holding ski poles. Arms at just below chest height, drop shoulders back and down (away from ears). Squeeze shoulders as if you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. Pull the band down and back .

Theraband Internal rotation: (works  Rotator Cuff ) Same form external rotation exercise, this time rotating internally

Theraband Internal rotation: (works Rotator Cuff) Same form external rotation exercise, this time rotating internally

“Mid-row” w/ Theraband- Drop shoulders back and down (away from ears), pull @ 90 degree angle, squeeze between shoulder blades

“Mid-row” w/ Theraband- Drop shoulders back and down (away from ears), pull @ 90 degree angle, squeeze between shoulder blades

Seated Mid-Row: Same as above but weighted

Seated Mid-Row: Same as above but weighted

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