Cycling is one of the many recreational activities that, in addition to being a source of joy, is also beneficial for a person’s health. However, adventure-filled bicycle rides often come at a cost for some riders which is often referred to as cycling wrist pain. Cycling wrist pain, though temporary, can be problematic in the long run for many which forces them to abandon their cycling routine altogether. Nevertheless, there are certain ways to manage and prevent such pain. This article goes through all of your queries related to cycling wrist pain, so you don’t have to abandon your hobby altogether.
What is Cycling Wrist Pain?
Cycling wrist pain or handlebar palsy, as the name suggests, refers to the pain that usually occurs after long bicycle rides. Just because it is cited as cycling wrist pain, does not mean it only occurs after bicycle rides. Wrist pain is a common issue even amongst motorbike riders and ebike users which is why it is important to discuss its causes & remedies.
Causes of Ebike Wrist Pain:
There are three major culprits behind ebike or cycling wrist pain and thankfully all three of them aren’t threatening. However, they have distinct root causes which ultimately trigger cycling wrist pain.
Poor posture is the mother of many pains including back, wrist & neck pain. Modern cycles, especially triathlon, and some such other racing bikes force you to lean forward which exerts significant pressure on the wrist joint. Depending upon the time spent in such a position, your wrist will either show some symptoms of wrist pain or will altogether give up. Secondly, not every ebike or bicycle is made for all age groups, and riding one that isn’t welcoming for you is sometimes an invitation for disastrous consequences.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS):
Carpal tunnel syndrome is triggered by manifold reasons. But in the cycling domain, it is caused by mild to intense pressure on a crucial nerve that runs through the entire length of your hand. The pressure is primarily related to feelings of numbness, itching, and immobility. CTS isn't a lethal disease/syndrome, but it can take some time to recede.
Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome):
Ulnar tunnel syndrome & Carpal tunnel syndrome are often confused as the same diseases/syndromes which is understandable considering they both have the same consequences. However, ulnar nerve syndrome is caused when pressure is persistently applied to the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is a different sort of nerve that runs through the brain to the hands and is primarily responsible for the proper functioning of small fingers.
Carpal tunnel affects large fingers such as the index finger whereas little fingers are primarily affected by Ulnar tunnel syndrome.
Solutions to Cope with Cycling Wrist Pain:
Thankfully there are various ways to cope with cycling wrist pain. Depending upon the cause of pain, you can employ various methods to minimize or entirely get rid of wrist pain.
As mentioned earlier, racing bikes or triathlons are designed in such a way that forces the rider to lean forward quite a bit. The lean angle exerts considerable pressure on the wrist; therefore, some adjustments should be made. Not every ebike or bicycle has an adjustable handlebar or a seat, though, if your ebike has both then you’re in luck. Adjust them in such a way that the riding posture becomes less aggressive which will alleviate some burden off your wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is triggered when the handle grips push onto the area of the hand from where the nerve is passing through. Some OEM handle grips are unsuitable for a number of people; thus, aftermarket handle grips are a good resort in such a case. Make sure the grips you’re going to purchase will provide a 15–20-degree backend so that the critical passageway in your hand remains free from any obstruction. The same remedy can be applied to deal with ulnar tunnel syndrome/cubital tunnel syndrome.
Believe it or not, unsmooth pavements or rough terrain can also take a considerable toll on your joints. Most ebikes today are capable enough to smooth out terrain irregularities quite adequately, however, your body can also adapt to such situations. Try to relax your body on such terrains so that the majority of the impact is absorbed by the muscles not the joints. Reducing the tire pressure can also be helpful, though, you will need to bring it back to normal once the challenging terrain has ended.
How to Prevent this from happening?
Cycling wrist pain usually goes away on its own, however, there are some instances where the wait & see approach does not work. Such instances require special measures which can be a bit of a hassle, but health is wealth, therefore, no compromise should be made in this regard.
See a Medical Professional:
At the end of the day, most of us aren't doctors and medical professionals exist because of a reason. If the above-mentioned measures don’t prevent or alleviate wrist pain, then seeking a medical professional is the best recourse. Wrist pain can, in turn, make it difficult for you to perform routine tasks and a short visit to a medical practitioner can drastically reduce the healing time. Apart from CTS and orbital tunnel syndrome, wrist pain can also be a symptom of something deeper. All such concerns can & should be rectified by a medical practitioner immediately if basic remedies fail to make an impact.
Choose an Ebike that Fits your Body:
Not every ebike is made for everybody which is why it is crucial to consider the ergonomics before placing your order. Ebikes, in general, aren’t as tiring as some sports bicycles but a short test ride can give you an insight into whether an ebike perfectly fits your body. The overall appeal of an aggressive/sporty ebike is undoubtedly quite enticing but it is the comfort that should be given a top priority in buying decisions. Prioritizing comfort over aesthetics would allow you to enjoy daily rides without having to worry about joint pains and reap the full benefits of the hard-earned money you’ve spent.