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  1. #1
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    Biking & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & RSI

    So I'm majoring in computer science, and I spend quite a lot of time typing. Over the years, I've developed some pain in my forearms, hands, and fingers (from carpal tunnel, repetitive strain injuries, who knows.)
    As I've been riding more and more lately (I'm new to biking) long rides have been causing pain in my forearms, and wrists, and numbness in my finger tips, just like i get from typing. Does anyone have any ideas for gear i could buy or riding habits i could get into to help relieve this pain? It seems like it helps a little if i remember to shake out my hands every once in a while to get some bloodflow back into them, but doesn't really get rid of the pain.

    Thanks for any ideas! A "long" ride for me at the moment is 20 or 30 miles, and i'd like to go further, but its starting to get really uncomfortable to be on a bike for that long.

    (Time to get one of those fancy ergonomic keyboards, too. Its been getting worse lately. A doctor's appointment is in the works too.)
    Last edited by JordanG; 05-28-07 at 01:20 AM.

  2. #2
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    A lot of folks on the mtbr forums swear by Ergon grips.

    On the computer front, look into a IBM Model M keyboard on Ebay before the fancy ergo keyboards. They go for about $20 and would be a cheap way to try changing your typing style.

  3. #3
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Personally, I hate the ergo keyboards. I presume you touch-type properly? One common mistake people make is resting their wrists on something, or having the keyboard tilted up (this default behaviour drives me nuts).

    I get slight RSI symptoms occasionally in my right pinkie, just from the stretch it does to hit the return bar after too much typing. It's doing it right now, actually. Last time I just rested and it was ok after a while.

    For stuff like that, I wouldn't recommend bearing your way through it - continued pain could become chronic. I hope you find a decent typing situation that will help.

    As for the cycling, do you ride flats or drops? Are you high or low?

    Those ergo bars are the shizzle. Fo' rizzle.
    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.

  4. #4
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    I have 20 years in I.T. and suffer the same symptoms. I do long rides, as in hundreds of Audax miles. The only relief I've found has been aerobars, getting the weight totally off my hands/wrists and onto my elbows. Without them my wrists are only good for 6 or 7 hours then I'm done.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  5. #5
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    on the model M: i used to have one of those. They're fantastic. Most of the problem at the moment is that I have no desktop at the moment, and so have to do all my school work on a laptop. Writing that much code on one of these stupid little keyboards is *definatly* bad.

    Nicodemus: I touch type almost-properly (i float away from home row to make it easier on my pinkies.. i get pain there too) i'm pretty sure I could get used to an ergo keyboard pretty quickly. I've got a Trek 7100, so flat-ish bars. (High/low? i'm not sure what you mean. I'm guessing seat height...) I'm high-ish, i guess (seat's just under the bars) I can't go much higher, as i'm oddly proportioned and have more height in my torso then most, and shorter legs, so if i go higher I practically have to jump off the seat in order to stop.

    Is it hard/expensive to replace the bars? The only problem I see is that i've got the twist-grip shifters, so switching to different bars probably entails changing shifters too, and i have *no* idea how that works.

    I was looking at aero bars to get the weight off my hands & wrists, but they just don't seem particularly practical since i do most of my riding in the city.

  6. #6
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    "only" 6 or 7 hours LOL you hardcore dude
    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordanG
    ...As I've been riding more and more lately (I'm new to biking) long rides have been causing pain in my forearms, and wrists, and numbness in my finger tips, just like i get from typing. Does anyone have any ideas for gear i could buy or riding habits i could get into to help relieve this pain? ...
    First/best idea: go recumbent. Lower-end bikes start at around $600 (Sun EZ-1, Cycle Genius Starling, Actionbent). For $1K you get a number of decent choices. Recumbent bikes aren't best for everything, but they are fantastic for long-distance cruising. The difference in riding comfort is enormous, far better than any upright bike can provide.

    Second idea: get a semi-recumbent bike. Premium among these is the Sport Series from RANS, like the $950 Fusion. For info on these bikes, RANS has their CrankForward forum, and Bentrider Online has a sub-forum for them as well. If you're taller than about 6'2" you may want to wait for the larger size they're coming out with. These bikes look fairly normal but still provide a big increase in riding comfort. I have a Fusion and it can be adjusted for basically NO hand pressure at all, but it still pedals well over long distances and the seat is large enough that it doesn't require padded riding shorts.

    --Someone earlier mentioned getting aerobars. In my experience that doesn't help--because it may take the strain off your hands, but then it puts a lot more strain on your neck, if you want to look at anything but your front axle.

    There is "typical pain" that many many people complain about with riding upright bikes--the butt pain, neck pain and hand numbness. You see these questions everywhere. And there are some things you can do that might help a bit--but there's nothing you can do with an upright bike to really get rid of that pain. To some degree you either learn to live with it, or you don't ride an upright bike at all, because you can't really "fix" an upright bike to get rid of those problems.

    ...(Time to get one of those fancy ergonomic keyboards, too. Its been getting worse lately. A doctor's appointment is in the works too.)
    I don't type enough to have the RSI problem myself, but I have heard from a few people that the Kinesis keyboards are fantastic for it. Expensive, but they do work as advertised.
    ~
    Last edited by Doug5150; 05-28-07 at 10:07 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Buglady's Avatar
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    Gloves with a gel pad on the thumb base when biking - and STRETCH your hands/wrists every 20 minutes when you are typing (set a reminder on your computer). Also stretch your neck and schoulders, because hand numbness can come from pressure on nerves in your neck. It might not be a bad idea to get evaluated by a chiropractor or physical therapist (some doctors will just give you painkillers or muscle relaxants that mask the problem rather than solving it).

  9. #9
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    I have found Sheldon Brown's advice to be excellent.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html#posture
    See the entries for "Hands" "Fingers" "Wrists" and particularly "Posture."

  10. #10
    Senior Member CTAC's Avatar
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    Try sliding your saddle backward.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buglady
    Gloves with a gel pad on the thumb base when biking
    Sounds like its worth a shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buglady
    It might not be a bad idea to get evaluated by a chiropractor or physical therapist.
    Yeah, i'm heading to the doc more or less as soon as i can afford too... finances are a bit tight at the moment. Yay for being a college student.

    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    I have found Sheldon Brown's advice to be excellent.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html#posture
    See the entries for "Hands" "Fingers" "Wrists" and particularly "Posture."
    That looks like some great info, i'll definitely keep it in mind next time i go for a ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by CTAC
    Try sliding your saddle backward.
    Its very nearly as far back as it'll go. As I mentioned earlier, my height is more in my torso then my legs, so i slid it back and pushed the bars forward so i could have the saddle at the right height for me to get at the pedals without being crowded by the bars. I've got another 1/2 inch or so i can move it back, so i'll give that a try.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CTAC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordanG
    Its very nearly as far back as it'll go. As I mentioned earlier, my height is more in my torso then my legs, so i slid it back and pushed the bars forward so i could have the saddle at the right height for me to get at the pedals without being crowded by the bars.
    Same here. I was struggling with hand pain for a long time. Got carbon handlebar (real difference), gel padding, and whatever people have mentioned above.

    The real problem was in the poor bike fit. The bike is big enough for my inseam, but my legs are relatively short. Even with the saddle pushed all the way backwards I was still leaning on my hands too much. I replaced my saddle with the one that allowed me to sit further back, went to a different bike shop for fitting, and now it is way better.

    If you cannot push your saddle back, another option is to raise your handlebars. That will also move your weight backward.

  13. #13
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Gel padded gloves

    Gel pads under the bar tape. (awesome!)

    Painkillers taken before ride, maybe 30 to 60 minutes before. It depends on you. Check with doc first.

    Move your hands to a new position every few minutes all the time.

    Aero bars are fantastic for this problem.

    raise your bars.

    lowering your tire pressure, try 10 psi less to start.

    crank it up, get those endorphins going. They reduce pain, so does caffeine.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  14. #14
    jcm
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    I also go with Sheldon Brown on this. Same with the guy over at Rivendell - a Mr. Grant, I beleive. Dial-in your setup and you'll be as comfortable as you can get, depending on your physical limitations. You'll likely change saddles a few times, and maybe the bars as well. Or, go recumbent.

    I'm 51 and pretty worn out from years of hard work. I have way more physical issues than you, and I ride out to 100 miles occasionally. Mostly, about 60-75 on saturdays or sundays. Up to 200 miles for a typical week. When I started, I got to about 30 miles and decided things had to change, because I was likely not going to get better as I get older.

    My advice is to eliminate from consideration anything remotely like aero. If you plan to use drop bars, get them up as high as you can. Better: use some type of North Road or other upright bar with some back sweep. Grips as high or higher than the saddle, putting the weight on the saddle. That's why I say you'll likely change that for something that doesn't bite back.

    Beyond that, good luck. We pay for what we do...

  15. #15
    Senior Member mlh122's Avatar
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    I gots the carpal tunnel too (computer programming/network engineering) and also gots the hand/wrist/forearm pain/numbness/tingling

    +1 try and get your geometry dialed in. a messed up bike fit will cause all kinds of pain.

    +1 once you go ergon, you never go back, those grips alone cut down on a lot of pain

    +1 gel pad gloves, i have Specialized BG gloves, they work great for me. they are also the only ones I've tried so there might be better stuff out there

    +1 stretches. I do these every 20 mins when typing, and whenever I feel like it when biking.
    http://www.carpaltunnelexercises.net/
    it also helps to make a fist, then stretch your fingers straight out as far as you can then spread them as far out as you can, then make a fist again.

    using this info my bike wrist pain is pretty small up to about a 2 hour bike ride, then a long rest with thorough wrist exercises helps a lot. they are also about 98% eliminated when typing or the random attacks of pain/tingling during the day. I take carpal tunnel fairly seriously as I know one person that lost most of the use of 1 hand and 1 person that lost total use of both hands.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    Great suggestions from everyone. I'm a keyboard jockey too, and have issues with soreness. Get a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking from somewhere, and you're fingers will never have to type again.

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