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Hand cramps, old age or out of shape?

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Hand cramps, old age or out of shape?

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Old 03-29-17, 12:44 PM
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RockiesDad
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Hand cramps, old age or out of shape?

Just did a ride a couple of days ago where I was going a steep curvy downhill for about four miles or so. I had to stop in the middle of this downhill to massage my hands due to getting cramps in both hands due to braking too much in a drop position. So is it old age or should I now do some hand exercising to build up my grip or is it that my brakes needs to be repositioned? Not sure what to do about it. Any advice?

Maybe just deal with it since its not too often I have to do this...
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Old 03-29-17, 03:09 PM
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Not used to the added pressure of descending. Best thing you can do is get used to the downhill and back off on the brake usage. Sounds scary but we have some twisty winding roads here in the local mountains. Once you get used to the speed, one rarely uses the brakes other than feathering a bit before entering the switchbacks on 30+ MPH descents.

Do make sure your brakes are properly adjusted in the name of safety!
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Old 03-29-17, 03:20 PM
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Well, it could be a lot of things, really - dehydration plus cold, low blood salts (sodium, potassium, magnesium, take your pick), due to holding the muscles still in the same position without relief for a long period, medications (diuretics in particular, some others).

Hydrate, take electrolytes/minerals, wear gloves, massage and move your hands, take breaks every so often.
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Old 03-29-17, 03:36 PM
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Hell no ... that happens to me on a long steep descent all the time. And I'm not the only one.

Try feathering the brakes if possible. That helps the hands and will also keep your brakes from overheating.

Side note: Isn't it interesting that despite the fact that there is a WIDE variation in rider weight, all bikes are pretty much equipped with brakes with the same braking capacity?
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Old 03-29-17, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Hell no ... that happens to me on a long steep descent all the time. And I'm not the only one.

Try feathering the brakes if possible. That helps the hands and will also keep your brakes from overheating.

Side note: Isn't it interesting that despite the fact that there is a WIDE variation in rider weight, all bikes are pretty much equipped with brakes with the same braking capacity?
I had them once when I was out of shape-ish, on our first loaded tandem tour. Having had a manual job still helps a lot as does riding a lot, especially a rim-braked tandem. I'm retired now but I do sets of hanging by my hands for as long as possible at the gym.

It is interesting . . . that even tandems have had to use all the same equipment as single bikes: brakes, tires, wheels, drivetrain, all that stuff. Now that there are a variety of disc brakes out there, it's possible to actually have good tandem brakes. Our tandem has rim V-brakes which are OK in the dry but were not that impressive last weekend when riding 100'/mile rollers in the city during an all-day rain.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
It is interesting . . . that even tandems have had to use all the same equipment as single bikes: brakes, tires, wheels, drivetrain, all that stuff. Now that there are a variety of disc brakes out there, it's possible to actually have good tandem brakes. Our tandem has rim V-brakes which are OK in the dry but were not that impressive last weekend when riding 100'/mile rollers in the city during an all-day rain.


One thing that the OP might want to try is different brake pads. I had much better luck with Kool-Stops than I did with the OEM Shimano pads. They just seemed to grip a lot better. That helped on the steep descents quite a bit.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post


One thing that the OP might want to try is different brake pads. I had much better luck with Kool-Stops than I did with the OEM Shimano pads. They just seemed to grip a lot better. That helped on the steep descents quite a bit.
Good point. Even better, SwissStop BXP (blue) for regular caliper brakes, GHP 2 (green) for V or cantilever brakes.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Good point. Even better, SwissStop BXP (blue) for regular caliper brakes, GHP 2 (green) for V or cantilever brakes.
Got TRP Spyer mechanical disc brakes with stock pads and compressionless housings. They are pretty good but I think the fact that I had to brake a lot to slow around the bends that made my hands tired. One thing I try to do is pump my brakes and not continue to hold on and overheat the rotors. I'm using front (90% of the time) and engage the rear when I need to really slow down quickly. But still...

I will rest when required in the future since this is probably normal for most of us...
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Old 03-29-17, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
Got TRP Spyer mechanical disc brakes with stock pads and compressionless housings. They are pretty good but I think the fact that I had to brake a lot to slow around the bends that made my hands tired. One thing I try to do is pump my brakes and not continue to hold on and overheat the rotors. I'm using front (90% of the time) and engage the rear when I need to really slow down quickly. But still...

I will rest when required in the future since this is probably normal for most of us...
Try "feathering" your brakes. That means engaging the front for a brief period of time (perhaps 1-2 seconds), then the back, then the front. That's easier on the hands and will keep your brakes from heating up (less of a problem with your discs).
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Old 03-29-17, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
Just did a ride a couple of days ago where I was going a steep curvy downhill for about four miles or so. Any advice?

Maybe just deal with it since its not too often I have to do this...
Specificity of training. If you descend/climb more regularly, they both get easier. It's not just the braking. On a descent, more pressure is on your hands. Don't change a thing on your bike.
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Old 03-30-17, 12:25 AM
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If you haven’t done it yet put gel pads under your bar tape. Use top of the line brake pads, I’m assuming rim brakes. Pads like Kool Stop dual color or three color cyclocross pads. Only do hard braking from the hoods when necessary. Finally and most importantly get a set of cyclocross brake levers so you can hard brake in a more ergonomic hand position on long down hill runs.

have fun
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Old 03-30-17, 12:33 AM
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Why do you consider old age and out of shape as mutually exclusive?

If you're older, it's likely a bit of both, but unless you have proven arthritis, odds are that a bit of exercise will help, though maybe more exercise than you used to need. Also, if you're fairly new to bicycling, it might just be NCGD ---"new cyclist grip disorder" --- wherein you haven't learned to relax and be comfortable, and ride with a nervous death grip on the bars and/or the brakes.

Either way, time, exercise, and getting comfortable on the bike all will come together in a short while as you continue to ride. If you feel your grip strength is low you can get one of those squeeze balls than tennis players use. --- Or just do isometrics on your beer glass.
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Old 04-02-17, 08:24 AM
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I used to get hand cramps riding motorbikes, also pins & needles, and sometimes numbness.... I bought a throttle lock so I could rest my throttle hand on long journeys but not much help.... then it just stopped.. I don't know why, but happy it did.
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Old 04-02-17, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Side note: Isn't it interesting that despite the fact that there is a WIDE variation in rider weight, all bikes are pretty much equipped with brakes with the same braking capacity?
I love the engineering thinking going on there.

Maybe that's a future option with e shifting where it can be calibrated??? With my luck the chip would malfunction on a descent and lead to undesirable results!!! I guess you can tell I did some Quality Engineering for a brief period....
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