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Thread: Elbow pain

  1. #1
    Senior, Senior Member ExMachina's Avatar
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    Elbow pain

    Just a note for the archives…

    I have occasionally suffered from mild to moderate elbow pain immediately following rides lasting over an hour. The type and location of pain was identical to tennis elbow and lasted for several days.

    At least one other person here has asked about elbow pain in the past (owww pain) so it's not an isolated problem, yet none of the cycling books I have consulted offer any information on this condition.

    I'm relieved to report that I recently traced down the source of my pain.

    My brake hoods--as they were set up on the bike to begin with--were too straight and were subtly, though chronically, twisting my elbows outward as I rode. To test my suspicion, I loosened the levers, and rotated them both slightly *inward* to better match the angle that my hand naturally wants to make w/ them. The pain has completely vanished.

    Perhaps someone else here can benefit form this…

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    Thats encouraging! I thought my bursitis/elbow crankiness was due to throwing seven innings of curve balls when I was eleven years old finally catching up to me. I think I will try moving my shifters as well. You are right. I looked at many sites re: elbow pain and most said it was from locking your elbows and getting impacts with locked elbows. I am constantly moving my hands and arms on the bike,being sure to not lock the elbows so I knew this was not my problem. Thanx for the advise. Hope it works .

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    Senior, Senior Member ExMachina's Avatar
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    Yes, I’ve read and heard the same things about locked elbows, and that probably is a real problem for some people, and may even have been an exacerbating factor in my case.

    My suspicion though, is that most elbow, wrist, and caporal tunnel problems are related to a simple problem of improper handlebar geometry (width, rotation, break lever placement). And since handlebar setup receives next to no attention in discussions about bike fit, handlebar geometry is one of the last things people think to address when experiencing discomfort (even though such adjustments usually require nothing more than a 5mm hex).

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    Gonna try that, thanks.
    Joat
    aka D. Babcock
    My bike aint fancy, but I can pedal all day.

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    Bumping an old thread - I've been trying to resolve my elbow pain whilst riding.

    The symptoms are long lasting aching usually in the left elbow but often in both that slowly subsides over the space of an hour after riding.

    After a bit of reading around I decided to try making a conscious decision not to lock out my arms while riding. This seems to lessen the subsequent pain.

    I tried riding with a tight compression bandage on one elbow - initially during the ride it seems to make things slightly better but by the end there was no discernable difference.

    My elbows seem worse in cold weather, so I tried a slightly baggy long sleeve top. This improved matters slightly.

    I tried a tight thermal top and the loose top and this made quite a difference.

    My current view is that the problem is caused by having the elbow joint repeatedly moved by external forces (eg when traversing bumps in the road) while there is load on the joint.

    Reducing the load, or the number of bumps ridden seem like the obvious solutions.

    Keeping the joint warm might ease the effects.

    Hope that helps someone.

  6. #6
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    It's amazing how little tweaks like this can make a world of difference. Someone posted about having a knee pain. They tried moving the saddle up and down to no avail. What helped was moving the saddle back by like half an inch.

    Locking your arms while riding is one of the top reasons of elbow pain. Yes, keeping joints warm is big help too. Some people wear just elbow (or knee) warmers as a whole top may be too warm.

    Your joints are supposed to be able to take some impact and flexing under load. Some joint strengthening exercises may help too.

    Also, some people get some positive results by taking Glucosamine supplement.

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    I have had this problem, myself. I realized that I was putting too much pressure into my arms and onto the bars. I corrected it.

    You should be lightly touching the bars, theoretically, barely touching them. Your core body and legs should be balanced in the vertical center of the bike (depending on climbing or descending.) When you are roughing it downhill your arms should be jelly and relaxed. Let the bike take the beating and it will absorb most of the bumps, don't tense. When you tense it causes the fatigue (and later muscle/tendon pain); furthermore, you have less control of the bike. Practice it and be conscience of every moment feeling your body and making small corrections. An excellent book on this stuff is called Mastering Mountain Biking Skills 2nd Ed. -> http://www.leelikesbikes.com/masteri...ls_2nd_edition

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    Bump. I think this is what you were talking about... Rotating hoods inward to relieve elbow tension. I haven't ridden in this configuration yet but I think it's going to help.

    http://s8.postimg.org/gp40u3vbp/image.jpg

  9. #9
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    People tend to imagine that their bike should be symmetrical or set to some geometric formula. This concept is destroyed by the human body's refusal to be symmetrical. Have you noticed your saddle twisting to one side over time? That's your body adapting the bike to you, and there's nothing wrong with it. Similarly with brake levers. My Shimano 9 speed levers wind up twisted inwards to suit my hands. My Tektro SS levers, modelled on the more modern style of lever, stay straight. To a certain extent, you need to allow your bike to work out what suits your body. It's unlikely that you're blessed with a perfectly straight and symmetrical body so don't force it to conform to some geometric ideal ... pain is the result. The trick is to work out what to live with and what to address with bike setup, and this, Grasshopper, is why bike fits based on formulas or other generalised theories are only useful to get your initial starting point.

    OMG, my first post in this forum and I've committed heresy already
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Flippin' tablets, that grumpy old git smilie was supposed to be at the end of my post and all attempts to delete or move it are akin to fitting a bike. Bah humbug.
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

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    Take heart, europa...the "grump" was still well placed. As was your advice. The idea of geometrically perfect adjustments is an old grump idea, anyway.

  12. #12
    Senior Member fatguy_ona_bike's Avatar
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    I found what helped my elbow pain was tipping my saddle up at the nose. I did about a degree and this improved my elbow feel quite a bit. Just another possibility to how to get these to fit us all.

  13. #13
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    I eventually had to go to Bullhorn handle bars and raised my stem about an inch - I have slowly progressing Osteoarthritis with decreasing angular range - Raising the handle bars relieved much of the pain...

    Some times you may need to forget the raw math and just move a few things around - Don't move anything more than 3/4" and only move one thing at a time - Be sure to use a marker so you can put the item right back where it was at - Take your time...

  14. #14
    BikeFitPro
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    Remember rotating the hoods up so you can have a more neutral wrist is something to think about as well. hoods.PNG

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    BF Avatar Zombie Hunter Jseis's Avatar
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    I've got tendonitis left elbow aggravated a few years ago from catching a 5 iron on a buried rock on the practice range. Hurts. Cycling inflamed it until I got on the hoods, slightly more forward with bent elbows. The upright position kept arms straight and I'd drift in and out of a locked elbow. As noted...a locked elbow is the worse thing for tendonitis. I use an anti-inflammatory and ....really avoid dehydration.
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