Postural strains are just like they sound, concerning your posture and the musculature that supports it. Postural strains present as discomforts in the musculature, much like the overbearing feeling you might get if you held a child up over your head for 10-15 minutes straight.
Bicycle-related postural strains – literally pain in the spine and shoulders – are the most frequently voiced pain complaint with endurance bicyclists.
Endurance cycling requires the ability to stay in your ideal position on the bike for an extended period of time. Yet, the discomfort of postural strains makes holding the position that caused the pain quite difficult.
You may find that you are frequently shifting positions, or feel a strong urge to take a break to relieve discomfort. If you stand on the pedals and coast for a few meters, or get off the bicycle altogether, the pain may go away temporarily.
Simple postural strains have no residual pain once you are off your bicycle, which often leads people to either forget about the pain until it becomes chronic, or to relate the discomfort with being on the bicycle. That can eventually lead to avoiding bike riding altogether. When the shoulder or spine pain persists off the bicycle, the postural strain has transitioned into a chronic injury.
The solution for on-the-bike postural strains
Examining your position on the bike is the easiest way of managing postural strains and avoiding chronic injury. Most postural strains on the bicycle are bike fit related. Retaking measurements, and checking all aspectes of your bike fit are often the biggest factor in solving the problem.
Correcting or adjusting your position can make a tremendous difference, even if the adjustment is only a small or even minute change. Riding more reasonable distances will become easier, you will experience far less – and possibly no – discomfort than with previous experience. Maintaining your position will be easier, you will be able to ride farther, and you may even net improved, bike handling, safety, and confidence.