IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO JUST ACCEPT PAIN ON THE BIKE – SEEK ADVICE, MAKE CHANGES AND ENJOY RIDING AGAIN
When it comes to your hands, there’s a lot you can do to improve comfort and get you enjoying a pain-free ride again. As with shorts, it’s wise to start with a good set of cycling specific gloves. Traditionally, these have always been fingerless, as this helps cooling and feel of the brake levers, but many find they prefer thin long-finger gloves as they offer a greater level of protection. Whichever style you choose, make sure they not only fit well but that they have sufficient padding especially across the heel of the palm. Just as with the saddle, Specialized has led the way with research and customer education into correct glove padding. Ulnar neuropathy – aka cyclist’s palsy – is common among those who spend a long time on the bike and manifests itself with tingling and numbness on the outside of the hand, affecting the smaller two fingers. By choosing a glove where pads take pressure off the canal, the nerve runs in through the wrist and the problem is usually resolved. Discomfort is also experienced if too much of your weight is placed on your hands, part of this may be that you’re not used to riding in an aggressive position – either because the position is too low or you’re simply riding more than you’re used to. Getting a respected bike fitter to assess your position every few years will help you maintain an appropriate position for your current physical condition. Following on from the padding in your gloves is the padding on your handlebars. The variation in bar tape is huge. At one end of the spectrum is low-volume tape for smaller hands, but more common is high-volume tape to give extra cushioning. This works well but if you want still more isolation, some brands also offer cushioned gel inserts to go between the bar and the tape. A budget way of doing this is to either double wrap the bars or lay strips of bar tape prior to the top layer being added, in this way you can also shape the bars if you find you have an awkward corner. Besides the height and padding, the shape and radius of your bars are things that manufacturers like to play with, and most have different models that are tailored to different riders with varying riding styles. Look out for differing depths of drop, different reach and outward sweep of the bars, plus materials and construction - all of which produce a different angle on your back, alignment of wrists and therefore pressure on hands. Through all of this it’s important to not just accept pain on the bike. Make some changes, seek some advice and get back to enjoying pain-free, fun-filled riding.