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  1. #1
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    What might be causing my shoulder pain?

    My shoulders are hurting near the end of this season and I believe its related to mountain biking because they feel worse after a ride of an hour or more. I'm wondering if I might have a cockpit setup issue or if this is common and I just need to do some strengthening exercises between rides?

    Its hard to describe the issue but my shoulders hurt when I pull my arms up to jump (not on the bike) or when I throw something hard. They both also hurt when I reach across my chest to the other side. The right shoulder is worse but both hurt. I've never had any issues and I haven't fallen on either shoulder lately.

    Share your experiences and fixes if you've had any success.

  2. #2
    namagomi
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    Try some stretches and exercises to isolate what the problem is exactly? Maybe your bicycle is too big for you?

  3. #3
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    Rotator cuff is the most complex join in the body, and deltoids consist of 3 muscle heads itself so there are many possible things that could be bothering them...

    I would try some light dumbbell shoulder shrugs and some fly's to strengthen. Also to warm them up prior to riding maybe?

  4. #4
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    This sounds similar to what I experienced many years ago. I tried all kinds of things, eventually biting the bullet and going to the specialist, and it was diagnosed as sclerosis in the socket. They prescribed me cortisone shots in the socket, not pleasant. From pain that prevented me from lifting my arms up beyond horizontal, I regained full motion with no pain. That was approx. 20 years ago, and even tho they told me I would probably need more shots to maintain, those were the only ones I had. I very occasionally get 'twinges', and I am resigned to not having great strength when I throw anything, (not essential for me), so I am good with it. They told me surgery would put me out of commission for 6 months, altho it may be less now, but since I am now almost pain free, and I can still ride fine, I am good. I do find that the warm weather here in AZ helps a lot, and a regular workout regime of some kind also helps to keep the range of motion. Don't let it atrophy, figuratively speaking...
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryyder View Post
    Rotator cuff is the most complex join in the body, and deltoids consist of 3 muscle heads itself so there are many possible things that could be bothering them...

    I would try some light dumbbell shoulder shrugs and some fly's to strengthen. Also to warm them up prior to riding maybe?
    I've had the same issues and there are some very simple weightlifting moves you can do that will solve the problem. Just do a Google for more info on the specific moves.

    My pain cleared up within a couple of weeks, 2 or 3 times a week , a couple sets each move.
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  6. #6
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    I had the same thing in one shoulder.

    Riding one bike was fine. Rising my other one made it worse.

    So I modded the "bad" bike to be more like the "good" one...

    Wider bars with more rise to put me in a more upright position.

    Slowly improving now...

  7. #7
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    I had some shoulder pain for a while when I started going on longer mtb rides,
    For me the big key to alleviating all pain and progressing is just focusing on form every time I ride, really keeping my shoulders tucked in low, back and tight and pushing down on the pedals through the back of my legs with my heels sunk as low as possible ...
    If you feel like you have to stretch a bit to keep your shoulders tucked in back and down then maybe you could do with shortening or raising your stem ..

    As for excercises its not always what you do but how you do it, whether it be pushups, pullups, pulldowns, presses, swimming or whatever, be sure to focus on keeping those shoulders tucked.low and that you core is engaged so the backs of your legs are firing ppwerfully!

  8. #8
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    If you've got insurance you should see if you can get hooked up with an orthopedist to diagnose you. I had crazy shoulder pain 15 years ago and was prescribed a 16 week shoulder rehab. I thought this would consist of visiting a hot blond Swedish masseuse a few times a week to give me some nice rub downs. Nope. It was an almost daily routine of miserable shoulder isolation excercises (@ 8 or 9 different movements). This strengthened the joints up really well and kept the shoulder in proper position and completey got rid of the pain.

    That rehab took care of me for years, but I'm now one big fat hairy atrophied blob and finding myself needing to do that program again.

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  9. #9
    Ride Instigator
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    It could be a repetitive motion injury that has absolutely nothing to do with MTBing.

  10. #10
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    Sounds like it might be good do do some shoulder exercises and stretches first and if that doesn't help i'll get it looked at. I had a conversation with an experienced rider this weekend and he said if my front axle is behind by bars when looking down in the normal riding position then the bars are too far forward. I might try rotating them back some to see if that helps.

    I also do long hikes (10-20 miles) and really long hikes (30-50 mile ultra hikes) from time to time. I often use hiking poles. The comment about repetitive use injury could be valid since that's 3-20 hours of the same motion over and over. I could be causing an imbalance in the muscles in my shoulder from that. I quit using the hiking poles a few months ago though and it didn't seem to change the issue. The problem is worse after a mtb ride.

    Specifically, my pain is as follows,
    Lats are tight and sore when I cross an arm in front of my chest. Stretching takes care of that for a short time.
    The top of the shoulder socket is where most of the pain is
    If i do dumbbell presses it seems to alleviate the pain for a little while.
    Massaging the shoulder for a while seems to help for a short time also.

    I'll try moving my bars back some and doing the shoulder stretches and exercises regularly to see if that takes care of it. If not then I guess I'll go through the process of going through all of the medical wickets.

  11. #11
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    How old are you? Any history of shoulder injuries? I'm nearly 50 and have been unkind to my shoulders over the years. (it's not the years per se, but more the mileage!!) and I have noticed very small adjustments on bars/grips can make worlds of difference in comfort.
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  12. #12
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    Sounds like it might be a plan to go to a professional and let them diagnose you instead of asking random people over the internet who have no clue exactly what and where and how it's hurting
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    How old are you? Any history of shoulder injuries? I'm nearly 50 and have been unkind to my shoulders over the years. (it's not the years per se, but more the mileage!!) and I have noticed very small adjustments on bars/grips can make worlds of difference in comfort.
    No history of shoulder issues. They don't hurt when I'm riding either. Its just a nagging pain off and on after a ride and when I lay on my shoulder for a while.

    After noticing how stretched out over my bike I am I'm starting to believe it may be that I need to make a handle bar adjustment.

  14. #14
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    It could also be bursitis, I have bursitis in my right shoulder and it bothers me off and on, not necessarily while I'm on the bike or afterwards. One way to see if that's it is to feel the area where it hurts, if it's red and warm it could be bursitis. The suggestions about light weightlifting seems to work for me as well as doing stretches with my shoulders.

    One of the best ones my therapist told me about, my therapist for my ACL surgery I had years ago I might add, was to take a 5lb weight, rest my head on a table or dresser that would have me bent over at a 90 deg angle and hold my hand straight down and do circles with the weight. I can really tell a difference in my shoulder if I go a few days or weeks without doing it.

  15. #15
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    Both my shoulders are loose and hurt like that. The first time it happened was before I started mountain biking. I dove to the ground and landed on my shoulder. Had to go to physical therapy, had me do some rubber band exercises to tighten it back up. Worked great.

    After mountain biking and taking several spills, both my shoulders are getting that way. Just need to do some resistance exercises to tighten them back up.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tshulthise View Post
    My shoulders are hurting near the end of this season and I believe its related to mountain biking because they feel worse after a ride of an hour or more. I'm wondering if I might have a cockpit setup issue or if this is common and I just need to do some strengthening exercises between rides?

    Its hard to describe the issue but my shoulders hurt when I pull my arms up to jump (not on the bike) or when I throw something hard. They both also hurt when I reach across my chest to the other side. The right shoulder is worse but both hurt. I've never had any issues and I haven't fallen on either shoulder lately.

    Share your experiences and fixes if you've had any success.
    You need to do some research if you are trying to tackle this on your own google Mike Robertson he has some really good corrective exercise stuff.

    Recent research is pointing to it actually more than likely it is not a shoulder problem at all and the real issue is with your thoracic spine or scapular instability.

    Do not do shrugs in any case. Plug shoulder pain into youtube and you will probably find Mike robertson and eric cressey and others that can really help. Kelly Startret has some great stuff as well he blogs a mobility WOD.

  17. #17
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    There is nothing wrong with trying to figure out whats wrong before going and after seeing a professional. More information is "usually" better information. Just be smart about it. Advice that says "be ignorant" is itself, ignorant. There are times where the "professional" will either be dismissive or negligent. This is uncommon, but it can happen. Involving oneself is just another way to get yourself better healthcare.

    BTW, rotator cuff injury is indeed caused by repetitive motion. It is unlikely you got this from MTB, but it doesnt mean you don't have it. Bursitis is another joint injury you may look into. This is a long term wear issue, usually accompanied with swelling.

    Good luck!

  18. #18
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    I'm heading to the doctors this week for the exact very issues you're describing. My last checkup (a few weeks ago) he prescribed me naproxen, as he believed I had inflammation of the rotator cuff. It didn't help, and honestly I think it's my bicep tendon as the pain is *in* the shoulder. Although it could be a myriad of things, from bursitis to pinched nerves. Regardless, I'll probably need an MRI.

    I've actually had to relearn how to put on a button down shirt. I can tolerate a LOT of pain, but it's literally gotten to feel like someone digging a knife into my shoulder the entire day, even just sitting doing nothing.

    Interestingly, when I ride my bike my shoulders feel great. But I haven't ridden or exercised for two weeks because I wanted to give them a rest.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdunha View Post
    You need to do some research if you are trying to tackle this on your own google Mike Robertson he has some really good corrective exercise stuff.

    Recent research is pointing to it actually more than likely it is not a shoulder problem at all and the real issue is with your thoracic spine or scapular instability.

    Do not do shrugs in any case. Plug shoulder pain into youtube and you will probably find Mike robertson and eric cressey and others that can really help. Kelly Startret has some great stuff as well he blogs a mobility WOD.
    Thanks for the links. I'll check them out. Right now its not bothering me much but I want to try to work on correcting the problem before it gets worse. If stretching and exercises don't fix the problem I'll see what the doc says.

    Thanks for all the replies.

  20. #20
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    I have horrible shoulders and I can point to 3 things that alleviated the pain.

    1. Osteo Bi-Flex a supplement you can get at Walmart seems to lubricate the joint and other weird voodoo crap after only 30 days of use
    2. Adjusting the handlebars like someone else has mentioned made the biggest difference
    3. Shoulder exercise to strengthen the joint has worked wonders as well.

    Good luck

  21. #21
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    What shoulder exercises helped you?

  22. #22
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    1. I use a pull up machine at the gym that takes some of my body weight away
    2. Bench press strengthens front of the shoulder
    3. Lifting free weights over my head
    4. Shoulders shrugs (hold heavy weights I keep my arms straight and shrug my shoulders up and down).

    I'm sure there is more exercises but this tends to give me a complete shoulder workout

  23. #23
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    I had a very similar shoulder problem, and found that a big contributing factor was my suspension setup. I had a cheap Diamondback Overdrive with a Suntour fork that was absolute garbage, and every time I'd hit a big bump it bottomed out the front fork. I didn't know it but I was jamming my arm up into my shoulder with each hit. New bike has a rock shox reba that I can keep adjusted to the right pressure to absorb bumps way better without bottoming out & my pain is 90% gone now.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB View Post
    I had a very similar shoulder problem, and found that a big contributing factor was my suspension setup. I had a cheap Diamondback Overdrive with a Suntour fork that was absolute garbage, and every time I'd hit a big bump it bottomed out the front fork. I didn't know it but I was jamming my arm up into my shoulder with each hit. New bike has a rock shox reba that I can keep adjusted to the right pressure to absorb bumps way better without bottoming out & my pain is 90% gone now.
    Good point. I have a Fox Talas 150mm fork but its overdue an overhaul (around 2000 miles on it) and is getting sticky and stiff and is leaking oil. You may be on to something. I plan on rebuilding it once the winter break comes. I would guess that will help.

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