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Neck issues...

Catrin2012-04-17 14:25:57 +0000 #1
I thought my neck was recovered pretty much 100% from the bad whiplash in October (fall on mtb trail). I rode 18 miles Saturday, no problem. Rode 16 miles Sunday in windier conditions, neck was fine until it woke me up that night. It is FINALLY calmed down, so of course I am going to ride this evening in the lovely 78 degrees they say we will have. We will see what I feel like tomorrow.

For most of the winter I had an extra spacer on my stem (1cm). My custom Gunnar was designed to have a very upright riding position to begin with, and we raised the stem as far as it would go after the injury when I was cleared to ride with caution.

The spacer was removed before my rides this weekend, so I am hoping that replacing it will take care of things. I do have an actual fit session planned Friday afternoon though - my fitter has proved very good at finding ways to accommodate my various physical issues to allow me to ride all day long. I hope that this just means that my neck needs to reaccustom to riding again...I want to mtb this weekend if the weather permits, but I think I need to wait until I can at least ride 20 miles on the road without repercussion.

This is a little depressing, so encouraging comments would be helpful. I know there are those here with even worse injuries than mine who are now happily riding and that is in itself encouraging.


Catrin2012-04-17 14:34:55 +0000 #2
I saw my fitter yesterday, and we raised the bars as far as they will go, just a little over a full centimeter

He went over my entire bike carefully to make certain that all of the measurements were still right (this is my one-off custom bike) and that nothing had somehow slipped. He even checked my cleats to make certain they hadn't somehow shifted.

My riding position was already VERY upright...but if it works I will take it. He reminded me that even though I was released from PT, my neck is still rehabbing. He knows me pretty well, and knows that I get stubborn and will ride at times when I shouldn't....

So, I've new riding rules for myself for the next month. No rides > 20 miles for now. If it is windy I simply have to ride fewer miles. Be cautious about riding again on consecutive days for a little longer...This makes sense to me, I can't get stronger without riding, but I need to approach this with intelligence. Things ARE far better than they were even a month ago so this is the dangerous stage for me

You know, part of me thinks a broken bone might have been easier to deal in the long term with than the severe neck strain... but I am thankful the damage from the fall wasn't worse.
Wahine2012-04-17 14:48:12 +0000 #3
Catrin, this is a really normal pattern of recovery. Try not to get discouraged. Neck rehab never goes along smoothly with the patient recovering at a nice steady rate without any exacerbations and episodes pain recurrance.

There are two good signs hidden in your story.

1) The pain didn't start until that night, so there was irritation but not enough to be painful while on the bike.

2) This happened only after your second consecutive day riding.

Your muscle were fatigued after the first day and they couldn't do as good a job of stabilizing your neck the second day, leading to some stressful posture and or unwanted motion in your neck while on the bike. As your muscle endurance improves, this will improve.

So here is some advice.

Cut your neck some slack, it's trying to build up some strength but it can only do it so fast. Think of what it's like to train for a big event, you have to work into long distances slowly so that your body can adapt and grow. Your neck muscles are doing the same right now. In the meantime, if you overdo it, it will hurt occasionally but it just means you need a little recovery time. It doesn't mean your heading back to square one.

You should be doing some postural strengthening exercise/movement control exercises for your neck every day. Did your PT give you some of these? Make sure you keep doing them. On the days you ride, do them after your ride and not before.

Rides should be judged by time out on the bike not miles. Your neck has to hold your head up regardless of how far you're riding and how fast, so the way to progress is by time, not miles.

I hope that helps.

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