A very athletic client of mine came to see me with neck pain. He was an avid cyclist and had just completed a five day cycling tour of Texas. I ask him how long he cycled each day during the tour and he indicated anywhere from six to eight hours. I followed up with a question about his preparation for the tour and he indicated that he had done a few weeks where he rode every day for an hour. Well, here in lies the problem. When riding, the ability to look forward to see where you are going requires you to use your splenius capitis – the prime extender muscle that runs from the back of your neck into your upper back.
It was clear he did not prepare his splenius capitis to endure the burden of maintaining neck extension for the many hours of daily riding required during the cycling tour. His splenius capitis was probably not strong enough and extraordinarily tight because of the arduous work it had to go through.
I told him in order to get ready for such an event, longer duration rides in excess of an hour (2 to 4 hours) twice a week will help condition the neck to endure the extension needed on the tour – specificity of action folks! In combination with the longer rides I said that he could also unlock the tension in his neck muscles every day in training and on a tour with YTU Therapy Balls and YTU neck exercises, before and after cycling. After he started using the YTU Therapy Balls and doing the exercises he felt much better in just a few days (one of them is posted below). After a couple of weeks he could ride all day into the sunset pain free.