Help­ing Hands

IT’S IM­POR­TANT NOT TO JUST AC­CEPT PAIN ON THE BIKE – SEEK AD­VICE, MAKE CHANGES AND EN­JOY RID­ING AGAIN

Bikes Etc - - HEALTH -

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.

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