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  1. #1
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    Hands hurting, suggestions?

    Hey all,

    I commute to work (7 miles to and 7 miles back) and after I'm done I've found that my hands are hurting. I went to several bike shops, and pretty much got a different answer every time for how to stop this. I got my saddle adjusted and my bike frame is correct for my height (5'10" 165 on 18" frame). I wore gloves for the first time today and they helped a little bit, but not much. Does anyone have anything else I could try? I think I might need to get a bike with drop bars, as mine is a straight bar mountain bike (Trek 820) that I had street tires put on for commuting in the city. Is this the best solution for this problem, since I feel like I've tried everything else? Anyway, I don't know much about cycling, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    You can try raising your bars with a higher angled stem to get you sitting more upright and less weight on your hands. Also try to be aware of using your back muscles more and not leaning on the handlebars so much. Also, are your hands/wrists in a natural position while riding or are they tweaked at a weird angle?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2create View Post
    You can try raising your bars with a higher angled stem to get you sitting more upright and less weight on your hands. Also try to be aware of using your back muscles more and not leaning on the handlebars so much. Also, are your hands/wrists in a natural position while riding or are they tweaked at a weird angle?
    Thanks for the tips. I think my hands are in a natural angle, sort of like how one would grip a barbell when doing a bench press. Is that correct, or maybe I should not let them bend?

  4. #4
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    +1 to avoiding leaning on handlebars too much! Your hands should only gently rest on the handlebar. Yes, gloves help, but the position is more important.
    Flat bars for commuting/shorter distances are fine, but you could try adding bar ends for your flat bars for extra hand positions.

    Good you got your seat adjusted. It's not just about the height though. If the nose of the saddle is pointing too low, the gravity will push your body forward, and your arms onto the bars a lot more. See if that's happening.

    Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    +1 to avoiding leaning on handlebars too much! Your hands should only gently rest on the handlebar. Yes, gloves help, but the position is more important.
    Flat bars for commuting/shorter distances are fine, but you could try adding bar ends for your flat bars for extra hand positions.

    Good you got your seat adjusted. It's not just about the height though. If the nose of the saddle is pointing too low, the gravity will push your body forward, and your arms onto the bars a lot more. See if that's happening.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks. When I got the saddle adjusted, they did tilt it backward a bit, like you mentioned. So my hands should only rest on the bar, huh? I had no idea. Because right now I definitely support a good amount of my weight with it. Perhaps that's the main problem - that I just need to alter the way I ride, by forcing myself to keep my weight off my hands? I'll try this tonight after work.

  6. #6
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Well, you will put more weight on the bars when you're climbing or making maneuvers, but the gentle touch is important. Your core muscle strength holds you up on the bike, not your hands. At least that's what my racing friend taught me... still working on that core muscle strength...

    Try teaching yourself that and see if it gets better.
    When I worked downtown years ago and tried commuting, my hands, arms and neck were in agony every day. I realized that I was so stressed with the amount of traffic, that was holding on the the bars for dear life. Are you commuting in a busy area? Maybe your pulling on bars more because of that?

    Form is important when riding. Your bike may be a perfect fit, but you still need to keep your shoulders down, elbows slightly bent, core muscles engaged, knees over the ankles. It will help to protect your body.

  7. #7
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Well, you will always have some weight on the hands, from time too time, but yeah, can't have too much all the time. What exactly hurts? Wrists, palms, elbows, entire arms? I also found the Ergon grips to be really good as absorbing vibration and lowering pressure on my palms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    Well, you will put more weight on the bars when you're climbing or making maneuvers, but the gentle touch is important. Your core muscle strength holds you up on the bike, not your hands. At least that's what my racing friend taught me... still working on that core muscle strength...

    Try teaching yourself that and see if it gets better.
    When I worked downtown years ago and tried commuting, my hands, arms and neck were in agony every day. I realized that I was so stressed with the amount of traffic, that was holding on the the bars for dear life. Are you commuting in a busy area? Maybe your pulling on bars more because of that?

    Form is important when riding. Your bike may be a perfect fit, but you still need to keep your shoulders down, elbows slightly bent, core muscles engaged, knees over the ankles. It will help to protect your body.
    Well yes, I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, so I do go through quite a bit of traffic. So that might be affecting (effecting? I hate that) me as well. I will for sure try and adjust myself on my commute tonight to try and take weight off of my hands. Thanks for all the help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Well, you will always have some weight on the hands, from time too time, but yeah, can't have too much all the time. What exactly hurts? Wrists, palms, elbows, entire arms? I also found the Ergon grips to be really good as absorbing vibration and lowering pressure on my palms.
    Thanks. My palms, near the wrist especially, are what hurts. Nothing else, really, just that.

  10. #10
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    +1 to putting less weight on your hands and using your core more. I've been trying to focus more on this lately and in addition to comfort it's making me a stronger rider and improving my abdominal and back muscle strength.

    +1 as well to the bar ends idea.

    If you want an even more drastic change and greater number of options for hand positions, I'd strongly recommend trying some butterfly trekking bars like these. I recently went w/ a similar handlebar (mine are a different brand (Kalloy), but same idea, and I LOVE THEM). Brake and shifter levers from your current straight bar setup could be swapped right over - the bars are MTB diameter.

  11. #11
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    +1 on the Ergon Grips, (bar-ends help too, multiple hand positions). Pulled the trigger on some recently much MUCH better. I believe AdamDZ and I have the same ones: http://www.amazon.com/Ergon-Race-Bic...ef=pd_sbs_sg_8 a bit "spendy" but.......

    Obviously this is in tandem with better positioning on the bike as has been suggested.
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    Thanks everyone.

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    Seems like you already got your answer, but just wanted to throw in my vote for the Ergons. I had pain in the exact spot that you mention & a pair of ergons made the situation go away. They spread out the contact area for your hands & the bars & reduce the pressure on your palms. The difference is immediately noticeable.

  14. #14
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    It sounds like frame size and saddle height/angle have been sorted.
    How about forward reach? The length of the stem and the elevation of the handlebars in relation to the saddle will make a tremendous difference on the positon, and will influence how much weight is on your hands.

    The grips will help, for sure, but if you are leaning too far forward your hands will still be bearing too much of the weight balance.

    For starters, I'd recommend getting the bars at or higher than seat level, and possibly a shorter stem (or one with a more dramatic rise and not as much reach).
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    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citybiking View Post
    Well yes, I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, so I do go through quite a bit of traffic. So that might be affecting (effecting? I hate that) me as well.
    If that's the case, and we're guessing here, getting a mirror makes a big difference. And maybe altering the route a little. Sometimes extending the commute by 10 minutes or so, but riding through less traffic is worth the time. You definitely shouldn't be in pain on a regular basis, it's not fun and you can get some long term injuries from that.
    Have a look if you can find a better route here: http://www.ridethecity.com/

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    Senior Member slims_s's Avatar
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    I was suffering hand/wrist pain after my ~8 mile commutes in my flatbar "hybridized" MTB. I added bar ends and now the pain completely ceased, even in longer trips Seems like having multiple hand positions did the trick. I decided that my next bike will have dropbars.

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    Senior Member echotraveler's Avatar
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    shake them! Dummy!

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  18. #18
    calm down its just a bike kandyredcoi's Avatar
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    as a cyclist with constant hand pains, sometimes the pain on bike might just be secondary to something else that can cause the pain and cycling exacerbates the situation

    maybe a crink from your neck from work or other daily activities even your sleeping position

    then i would go and adjust ergonomics as most has already suggested

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
    It sounds like frame size and saddle height/angle have been sorted.
    How about forward reach? The length of the stem and the elevation of the handlebars in relation to the saddle will make a tremendous difference on the positon, and will influence how much weight is on your hands.
    +1.

    Gloves, bar ends, etc. all good for symptomatic treatments, but cut to the root cause -- likely that height and/or reach of the bars is at issue in concert with the seat position stuff you've been playing with.

    I'd also suggest looking at seat fore/aft, too. Not just height / tilt in the "got my seat adjusted" presumption.

    I don't think drop bars is a promising plan here. They provide more positions but the extras tend to have more weight on hands, all other things being equal. You very well may get a well set up drop bar bike that is super comfortable, but that's the fit not the style speaking.

    Honestly, if I don't have a little weight on my hands then my butt gets sore after a while. I don't agree with the "gently rest on the handlebar" advice. That presumes a beach cruiser-ish set up, upright and maybe a sprung seat. Plenty of MTB set ups are dependent on some weight being carried on the hands.

    I don't think you need more opinions. You need one bike shop with a fit person to help you set up your bike, and work through it with them. Some trial and error is essential. Quite possible there are 3 or 4 things wrong here. There isn't one magic pill.

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    Trekking bars so you can change grips frequently, Ergons, thick wrap (innertube + two layers of pseudo-cork). Research shows that widening the area of contact makes a big difference.

  21. #21
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    You might also change your position while you are riding such as standing up while pedaling, taking your hands off the bar at times, or tensing and then relaxing different parts of your body. Other than that, also beware of how tightly you may be clutching your handlebars.

    Like another poster mentioned, it could be numerous things affecting your comfort. Different grips (I like the Ergons also), handlebar height and sweep, fore/aft/tilt position, saddle height, shorter or longer stem, higher or lower rise, and bar ends all might help.

    The bike size you mentioned might be in your range, but it does sound like it could be a little small. I'm 5'9 and commute sometimes on a 19" hardtail. I know your dimensions are different than mine, and bike measurements range from manufacturers, but it might be something you want to look into. The size bikes people prefer differ on there riding situation. It is my understanding that a mountain biker prefers their bike a little smaller than what they would prefer on a road bike.
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    I just went through this myself. I have drop bars, so I don't think that will help you. I raised the handlebars and tucked my rear under a bit more. I don't know how to describe it better than that. I also tightened my core. This also seemed to transmit more of my weight to the pedals so maybe it helps with speed. I don't know for sure. The pain in my hands has reduced significantly.

  23. #23
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    I think the fact that you went to several shops and got so many different issues speaks to the fact this is not a fit issue.

    If it were, you would have had a) more unanimity, and b) it solved already. Getting comfy on a bike is not rocket science; look at your garden variety cruiser for a primer on the core principles. Also, I believe that if a bike isn't properly sized, you'll know it right away, as you'll feel too stretched out, or about to pitch forward, or too cramped. Anyway, "fit," in cycling parlance, is about optimizing performance, not comfort.

    No, I think actual discomfort is more telling of a setup issue, which differs from fit in that alterations do not change factors such as stem length, handlebar height, top tup length or saddle position.

    What I suggest you focus on first is your bike setup:

    --make sure you're brake levers are angled down sufficiently that your fingers find them easily without having to reach up, especially if, as in smart city riding, you are covering your brakes frequently. Reaching up to get on the levers will put pressure on your wrist and heel of the palm, causing discomfort.

    --if you're riding a suspension fork, make sure it's properly sprung so you're not sagging into the travel too much while riding, which can upset the riding position you planned for back when the shock was properly set.

    --as mentioned above, vary your grip, esp. with the addition of bar ends.

    --ensure your grips aren't rotating on the bar, allowing your hand position to shift.

    --get good grips, with tangible padding. Some are very thin.

    Finally, I can guarantee switching to a drop bar will resolve your problem...if only because of the change of hand position. I do not necessarily think this is the way to go, however, because you CAN alleviate the problem with less hassle, less cost and without losing the urban advantages of the flatbar, through proper setup.

    If all else fails, BTW, it's a fit issue.
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  24. #24
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Do you normally ride with a slightly bent elbow? That would probably help. I see quite a few cyclists riding with apparently locked elbows and admit I do this sometimes.

    I occasionally get pain right at the base of my thumbs... possibility arthritis. However, it does come and go. Right now it's gone.

  25. #25
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    +1 on the Ergon grips, +2 on the trekking bars; I have a set and it is the best upgrade that I've made on my bike to date. I had to get a longer stem, but the cost of the bars, stem, and tape was still way cheaper than converting to drop bars; with drops you need new controls. Another bonus is since the area to tape is smaller than drop bars (providing you still use grips), the tape ends up being thicker, and therefore more comfortable. At least that's been my experience, YMMV.

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