Sunday, June 15, 2014

Shermer's Neck

I wish I had this picture to share when someone asks "does your neck hurt from holding it up while riding a recumbent?". Um mm...about as much as it hurts sitting in a recliner watching television..

Another reason to ride bent on long distance races.
Solo RAAM racer 2014 


"Michael Shermer grudgingly gave his name to this malady during the 1983 RAAM on his approach to Harrier, IL, nearly 2,000 miles into the race. His head felt heavy and the back of his neck was increasingly sore. He described it as, "a quick melt down." His head dropped, making it impossible for him to look up. Cradling his chin in the palm of one hand with his elbow on the padding of his aerobars, he supported his head well enough to finish the race. Despite excruciating pain during the event, his neck was back to normal within two days.

In the 21 years since Shermer experienced the first reported case of Shermer's Neck, countless other ultra-cyclists have had the same problem. Shermer's Neck typically starts between 300 and 1,000 miles into the race. In all cases the onset is sudden. From the time of first pain and weakness, the neck usually gives out within two to three hours. Symptoms always start in the back of the neck. The head feels heavy and the cyclist can't look up without assistance from a mechanical device. Once a cyclist gets Shermer's Neck, it is unlikely to leave for the remainder of the race.

The SCM attaches to the skull behind the ear and plays a role in supporting the head. There are three separate scalene muscles that run beneath and behind the SCM and perform a similar function. In an extreme cycling position the scalene muscles may be in strong contraction while extending the neck. These muscles are not accustomed to prolonged, sustained work when the head is in an aero position during a long race."

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