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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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Old 12 Oct 2000
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
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Neck and upper back pain while riding

Folks: Does anyone have experience or solutions for upper back and lower neck stiffness and ache. After about 80 to 100 miles I have to stop and find a grassy place to lie down. Asprin/ibruprofhen etc. does not work. I ride a BMW R 80RT w/ stock seat etc. (I can't believe you long distance runners are stopping like this all the time.) This process makes a 600 mile journey much longer. Regards. Galen Wolfe
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Old 13 Oct 2000
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Hi Galen,

I'm no doctor, and I'm sure one iwll come up with all kinds of medical answers, but me experience has been that it's one or a combination of three things;

1. Riding position - adjust handlebars up or down slightly, or change bars to a different height or angle. Move back and forth on the seat.

2. Tension - This is a big one, and I find that a concerted effort to relax completely, even doing stretching and relaxation exercises BEFORE a ride, can help a huge amount. If I get bit by this it's usually tension, even though I think I'm relaxed, and most of me is, but the lower neck seems to be the area that tightens up very easily and quickly. I tighten that area as hard as I can for 30 seconds, then release. That helps to relax it. Do it at the first sign, don't wait.

3. Out of shape for riding - just ride more, using the above hints, and you'll find it doesn't get you as quickly or even not at all after a while.

What better excuse to go for a ride?

Grant Johnson

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Old 16 Dec 2000
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Location: San Francisco, USA
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Are you dressed warmly enough? I find that the cool wind makes my neck and upper torso tense up, and I tend to just try to ignore it.
When I overdress and am very warm, I get much less fatigued.

Wright Bagwell
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Old 10 Apr 2001
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This is an occupational hazard for couriers as well as distance boys. Dont carry anything on your back; dress up warm ,as being cold makes you tense up and increases the problem. Move around , streach , stand up as much as is possible. Set up your bike in as upright a riding posiition as possible. If you are doing distance (or courier stuff) give it a couple of days off the bike as soon as possible. hopefully all of these approaches together will reduce the problem, failing that see a back specialist. And if your new to bikes, relax and keep at it , as you get more comfortable and at ease on the bike you will relax, and so will your back. hope this is some help.olly.
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Old 10 Apr 2001
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Location: aarhus, denmark
Posts: 23
something that worked for me was adjusting the angle of the clutch and front brake levers. I found i was getting pains in my neck and shoulders and after messing with the lever adjustments it all went away, guess it was sort of like a repetitive strain injury setting in.
When i had my R100GS P/D i could lean back against the back rack luggage and put my feet up on the crash bars around the engine heads (comfy) after that i would lean full forward on the tank with left arm draped along the handlebars. I have bad problems with lower back pain from years of running and surfing and these little things helped me. Also never under-estimate the benefits of stayimg warm aroound the lower back- dingofish
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Old 15 Apr 2001
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Hi Galen,

I'd have to agree with Grant on this one. Handle bar position can be a biggee here (I went for Genmar risers on my GTR), Tension another biggee, you have to consciously relax...especially if you suffer 'white knuckle grip' on the handle bars...these two things alone have helped me cover consecutive 1300-1500km days.

Personal fitness is also of course a main issue here, so get plenty of ride time up. I also drink plenty of Tonic Water when I can get it...the quinine helps relieve muscle cramp

Stay Upright,

Andy D.
Stay Upright,

Andy D.
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Old 9 May 2001
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Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 1
Hi Galen,

I agree with the others recording to handle bar positioning, relaxing and stretching. I ride througout the year no matter what the weather forecast is telling me. Therefore I strongly recommend regular exercise to warm you up. Furthermore check your position on the bike and your screen ( if fitted ). A different screen could reduce the pressure on your head an shoulder area. Also give a check to your garment. It should fit properly but give you a certain freedom of movement. A painkiller as you mentioned is ok for short time use if you are on the road but definitly not as a permanent solution. The damage done to your body ( i.e. liver and kidneys ) should not be forgotten.
If nothing helps, make a break BEFORE the pain start i.e. every 60 miles.

See you on the Road
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