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  1. #1
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    Amatuer Rider - Preventing Wrist Pain

    Hey everyone. I read some old topics about this issue, but I still need some help. I used to be one of those sunday upright joyriders on an old steel bike. I bought a nice new Trek 7.3FX, which I love. I think the positioning is awesome. More aerodynamic and aggressive, but still maintaining some degree of uprightness. I only took it out for a few miles every so often during the winter, and didn't have a problem. This weekend I did my longest ride ever (8 miles! Some of you probably do that as a warmup...)

    Well, at the age of 21, being a computer geek has taken it's toll. I've had a few wrist surgeries, and have a bit of tendinitis in my hands and fingers (needless to say, my hands/wrists are complete crap). I didn't think anything of it, until come monday morning, I took some tylenol and seriously regretted that ride! The only part of me that was sore though was my wrists, hands and fingers! I do wear some fingerless Bell Gel Gloves, which are very comfortable and have helped quite a bit during the ride anyway.

    In retrospect, I think I have a few problems right off the bat...
    - It being my first ride of more than an hour, I probably had a death grip on the handlebars, which I need to watch out for.
    - When riding my Trek, the position is fairly comfortable, but it feels like my entire weight is pressed down against my wrists/hands. I do my best to keep them straight, but I'm not sure how good the default handlebars/grips are for this.

    I've been thinking about getting some Ergon grips with the bar ends to try out different positions. They fitted my bike (not professionally, guy at the LBS, but seemed pretty professional) when I got it, but they seemed more concerned about how far my knees extended. I'm not sure what I can safely (or should) adjust seat or handlebar wise to correct this problem, or if I'm on the right track or not...

    Some advice would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I can think of a couple things that may help:

    1) Try the bar ends. This will increase the number of hand positions and that alone may be enough to mitigate the hand/wrist pain. (This is my main objection to flat bars, but that's the topic of another thread.)

    2) Focus on supporting your upper body with your core, not your hands. Ideally, you should be able to ride in an aerodynamic position with your hands just lightly grasping the bars. Keep your elbows bent, your wrists loose, and your fingers just resting on the bars. Don't worry if you can't do this for the whole ride--it's something to work up to.

    Good luck!
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  3. #3
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Ouch, you have THAT kind of problems at 21? People work with computers for their all lives without that kind of problems. How did you get in such a mess? Are you undergoing therapy? Talk to your doctors or therapists, perhaps you should avoid cycling until your hands get better.

    If you feel that a lot of body weight is supported by hands you may not be fitted properly, too stretched out for instance.

    Or try aerobars with end shifters where the weight is supported by elbows and forearms not palms.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Ouch, you have THAT kind of problems at 21? People work with computers for their all lives without that kind of problems. How did you get in such a mess?
    Agreed. I've been using computers for almost as long as I've been alive (about 28 of 30 years this month) and I don't have that kind of problem. Time for the OP to start looking seriously at therapy and ergonomics.

  5. #5
    Vegetable Rights! Surfindixon's Avatar
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    I've had the Ergon GC3's for a few weeks and the ability to change hand positions as indicated by caloso has really paid dividends. I just had grips before and was really feeling the pressure on my wrists during the commute.

    The numbness and wrist sensitivity are pretty much all gone now. I'm also in the process of bringing the bars up and in a wee bit as I was feeling wrist heavy and a wee bit overstretched.

    Hope you find a solution

    The ergons are pricey though but worked for me

  6. #6
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    raise the bars and get bar ends. you might need a new stem.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the feedback guys.
    I'll definitely have to try some of the ideas you posted to reduce wrist strain.

    A little bit of elaboration though. A few years ago I had wrist surgery to remove a cyst that was actually pushing into the joint. As far as the doc is concerned, I can do whatever I want. But things are still a bit sensitive from that. Beyond that, I've had a bit of a problem with wrist/hand strain. It's been dismissed as generalized inflammation of the 'take a few advil' kind . Generally it's only mildly annoying to non-existent, but I have to keep it in mind. About everyone in my entire blood-related family has had all kinds of problems with tendinitis/arthritis/inflammation, so the odds are against me. For some reason though, biking REALLY aggravated everything. So my hope was that if I could find some way to reduce wrist/hand strain while riding, I wouldn't have a problem anymore.

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    Ergons do make a lot of difference especially on the wrists. Even the ones without bar ends. I have both kinds,on different bikes.. They do take a little fiddeling to get them where they feel most comfortable.
    I installed mine and tightened them enough so they would only move with some pressure and experimented while riding, till they felt right,then made em tight. One side is even slightly more turned up than the other, which shows how you can custom fit them to your reach perfectly.
    Get yourself a small very soft ball or something like that and spend some time squeezing it. Like squeeze and letting go on and off etc. It will strenghten and loosen up your hands/wrists, and you can do it anywhere anytime. There is a special ball for this,cant remember what its called. One of my kids has Carpel Tunnel and uses one,it works for her.

  9. #9
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    On a side note...are the old grips easy enough to remove, and the ergon grips eas" enough to install for someone who hasn't done much bike maintenance? Or is it best to let the LBS handle this?

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    Old grips can be a pain. If you have access to air you can remove by giving a shot of air under grip,or pry away with something you can squeeze under them. I personally am not going to use em again so i cut them off with exacto knife.
    The Ergons slide on and use a set screw you tighten up after. Hence my explaination to do them up just tight enough to not move while riding without forcing them till you get them where you like,then tighten completely. Be careful not to overtighten its all alloy,stuff.

  11. #11
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NyteBlade View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback guys.
    I'll definitely have to try some of the ideas you posted to reduce wrist strain.

    A little bit of elaboration though. A few years ago I had wrist surgery to remove a cyst that was actually pushing into the joint. As far as the doc is concerned, I can do whatever I want. But things are still a bit sensitive from that. Beyond that, I've had a bit of a problem with wrist/hand strain. It's been dismissed as generalized inflammation of the 'take a few advil' kind . Generally it's only mildly annoying to non-existent, but I have to keep it in mind. About everyone in my entire blood-related family has had all kinds of problems with tendinitis/arthritis/inflammation, so the odds are against me. For some reason though, biking REALLY aggravated everything. So my hope was that if I could find some way to reduce wrist/hand strain while riding, I wouldn't have a problem anymore.
    Get another surgeon's opinion, seriously, one that specializes in sport injuries would be best, and - if you can - get into therapy. Have you taken any anti inflammatory medications? You're too young to have this kind of problems. And if not taken care of properly and if not fully cured it can cause permanent damage and you will have to live with pain for the rest of your life. You may even say goodbye to your computer addiction and bike riding. I wouldn't take this lightly. Take care of the problem at the source, not by fancy bars, they won't help. A 3 inch thick layer of foam won't help you take the weight off of that wrist.

    Adam

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    As one of the resident recumbent riders, I'll put in one plug. By all means, look into raising the stem, bar ends, softer grips, physical therapy, etc. But if none of that stuff works, feel free to wander over to the recumbent forum.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Yet again, everyone missed the point of weight distribution. Raise the nose of the saddle up to take weight off of your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

    All the cushy gloves and grips will not help if you are pushing up your upper body all the time.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  14. #14
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I knew people with similar problems. Unless it's cured, nothing will help, sort of riding a recumbent, which is a little extreme solution that will have profound effect on your relationships A few pounds of pressure may be all that it takes to trigger the pain. I knew a woman who couldn't hold a pen she was in so much pain.

    Therapy first, biking later.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by NyteBlade View Post
    Well, at the age of 21, being a computer geek has taken it's toll. I've had a few wrist surgeries, and have a bit of tendinitis in my hands and fingers (needless to say, my hands/wrists are complete crap).!
    I really haven't had a problem. My fingers (but not my wrists) used to hurt like crazy, but I hardly notice anymore. It seems that the worst that happens is that my fingers get stiff after so much typing.

  16. #16
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    Lots of good advice here, but nobody mentioned hand position, either; I do so as a reminder not to do what I see so many people do -- bend the wrist back on the grips, with horizontal or even raised brake levers. The hand should be on the bar/grips so there is more of a straight line from shoulder to fingers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Get another surgeon's opinion, seriously, one that specializes in sport injuries would be best, and - if you can - get into therapy. Have you taken any anti inflammatory medications? You're too young to have this kind of problems. And if not taken care of properly and if not fully cured it can cause permanent damage and you will have to live with pain for the rest of your life. You may even say goodbye to your computer addiction and bike riding. I wouldn't take this lightly. Take care of the problem at the source, not by fancy bars, they won't help. A 3 inch thick layer of foam won't help you take the weight off of that wrist.

    Adam
    I appreciate the advice.

    The family doc diagnosed it as a wrist sprain at first, then sent me on to a sports medicine/orthopedic doctor, who diagnosed it as carpal tunnel. Decided to go to a bonafide hand surgeon for a second opinion, who ran a battery of tests and did the surgery (and he carpal tunnel thing at the same time! 2 for 1), which actually seemed to help quite a bit, though it's still not 100%. (I'll avoid unnescesary commentary on our medical system here )He said they looked for any other problems pretty extensively during the surgery, and this was all they found. I'm hoping he's right and it's just some inflammation, and minimizing strain on my wrists during biking will fix this. I've had it in the back of my mind that it couldn't hurt to see if I could get another opinion or go back to the doc and make sure everything really is okay.
    Not taking any anti-inflamatories. Those things don't usually play very nice with my stomach, so I try to avoid them. Kind of hoping the guy would whip out one of those cortisone shots and maybe I'd feel like a new person.

    I think probably the one good part about this is I've become less of a computer addict. I probably would've never tried biking seriously if I hadn't gotten this urge to go out and try new things. Just hoping I can get my bike ergonomics set to avoid problems...

    I actually took a short ride today. I had put so much pressure on my grips, I had actually bent them down 45 degrees or so (whoops). I must've been putting almost all my weight against my hands/grips. I think my first step is try to correct that.

  18. #18
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Ironman cycling gloves. They made a world of difference to me.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    I will second ergon or specialized BG grips. I have the specialized which look very similar to ergons. I can ride miles and miles without gloves and no hand/wrist pain. Which is great because I dont like wearing gloves unless im offroad (more to save hands from any falls that might happen...) I wear latex gloves all day at work, its nice to be glove free sometimes!

    Specialized BG gloves also helped me to a certain degree, but not as much as the grips that came on my Sirrus.

    I agree with AdamDZ, heal first, bike later.

  20. #20
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    OK, looks like you did your due dilligence However, I know that in some cases doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs combined with long periods of rest (wrist brace) to let the inflammation go away for good. As long as there is movement and pressure that irritates the affected area the inflammation won't go away even with medications.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    OK, looks like you did your due dilligence However, I know that in some cases doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs combined with long periods of rest (wrist brace) to let the inflammation go away for good. As long as there is movement and pressure that irritates the affected area the inflammation won't go away even with medications.
    I tried my best anyway It certainly doesn't seem to be getting any worse - it's aggravated if I lift something too heavy, or go on an 8+ hour typing binge. Taking advil over the course of a week a year or two ago nearly nuked my digestive track. Some of those anti-inflammatories are nasty. I'm pretty sure I'm not doing permanent, irreversible damage anyway. It'd be awesome to get 100%, bonafide relief and not worry about it anymore. After a hand surgeon has ruled it's just nagging inflammation (that does seem like a cheap, medical copout ) and there's nothing structurally wrong, I don't know if it'd do much good looking for a different diagnosis. It's been probably over 2 years since I saw the surgeon - it might not hurt to go back to the guy and see what he thinks, but I'm afraid he'll just slam me through a steel table or something and give me a bottle of advil

    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Lots of good advice here, but nobody mentioned hand position, either; I do so as a reminder not to do what I see so many people do -- bend the wrist back on the grips, with horizontal or even raised brake levers. The hand should be on the bar/grips so there is more of a straight line from shoulder to fingers.
    Yep, I think this was part of my problem. My wrist was bent, and i forced down enough to actually move the grips, which made my hand positioning even worse. I've been trying to make sure i keep my wrists straight, and not put any force on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
    Yet again, everyone missed the point of weight distribution. Raise the nose of the saddle up to take weight off of your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

    All the cushy gloves and grips will not help if you are pushing up your upper body all the time.
    Hmm...this is another good idea too. I do feel a little bit weird in the saddle. Feels like my weight is being supported by my wrists, and a certain area you'd rather not support your body with.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    As one of the resident recumbent riders, I'll put in one plug. By all means, look into raising the stem, bar ends, softer grips, physical therapy, etc. But if none of that stuff works, feel free to wander over to the recumbent forum.
    Thanks On the trail, I always saw the recumbent bikers and thought "hah, that looks pretty stupid." Now it actually looks like something I might try to give a shot sometime. Looks like it'd give your legs a heck of a workout anyway.

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    As i said in a previous post #8 above, that my daughter has had Carpel Tunnel for many years and rides a bike. The ball squeeze thing helps to relax and strenghten and if you install Ergons right, they will help keep your wrists in line properly.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NyteBlade View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Yet again, everyone missed the point of weight distribution. Raise the nose of the saddle up to take weight off of your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

    All the cushy gloves and grips will not help if you are pushing up your upper body all the time.
    Hmm...this is another good idea too. I do feel a little bit weird in the saddle. Feels like my weight is being supported by my wrists, and a certain area you'd rather not support your body with.
    This is the best advice in this thread. You saddle should be level front -to - back, or slightly nose up. A lot of folks put their saddle nose-down because they think it will decrease pressure in their *ahem* crotchular region... but it does not - it just increases the pressure on your hands.

  24. #24
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
    Yet again, everyone missed the point of weight distribution. Raise the nose of the saddle up to take weight off of your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
    That only takes weight off your hands if the saddle is sloped down at the nose, causing the rider to slide forward. I don't think everyone "missed the point;" I think they assumed a starting point of reasonably standard setup and suggested modifications.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    That only takes weight off your hands if the saddle is sloped down at the nose, causing the rider to slide forward. I don't think everyone "missed the point;" I think they assumed a starting point of reasonably standard setup and suggested modifications.
    +1^^^^ The OP stated he had a LBS fitting,he also stated he was thinking Ergons and bar ends. I think he got adequate replies.
    Last edited by ddez; 03-10-10 at 02:05 PM.

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