Wrist Support on Long Rides

Hi all,

I’m a 60 year old noob when it comes to cycling. I’m planning on doing Seattle to Portland this year, which is 200 miles over two days, and I am building up fitness and endurance to do so.

All is going well (thanks to TR over the winter in particular) but I’m noticing one problem now that I’m doing >65 miles in a day. Once the ride is over, the right hand seems to lose its grip for a few days. For example, my wife cooked me a steak after yesterday’s 85 miler, and I found it hard to grip the knife and cut the steak. I had trouble squeezing the handle of the knife tightly enough to get a solid grip.

This passes after a few days but I’d like to eliminate it. My bike fit is good, and I’m comfy on the bike for the whole ride (well, that’s a lie, the set gets rock hard at 50 miles but it passes). This is definitely something I only get on long rides. I can imagine needing to raise the bar a bit, or wearing wrist supports of some kind.

I’d like some advice from anyone who’s had a similar problem please.

I hate to say it but…bike fit.

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:grimacing: I guess you might be right…but who wants to sit for a ten-hour bike fit? I got some gloves with wrist supprt so I’ll try that and then add some height to the handlebars if that doesn’t do it.

Something else you might want to look at is how hard you’re gripping your hoods. As you get more fatigued you might be subconsciously gripping harder than you need. Try concentrating on relaxing your hands and just resting them on your next ride, no need to have a tight grip.

Also, why is it a 10 hour bike fit???

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The ultimate support for your wrists when on the bike for long periods is suppose to be your core. Are you keeping up with a core strengthening regimen?

A potential quick fix is to rotate your hoods towards you a few degrees. This serves to raise the point of contact and counter any unnatural overextension of your wrist through the thumb.

Are your roads rough? Install the widest tires your frame can handle and take advantage of the lower required pressures. This will have a big effect on ride feel.

How much vibration do you experience through your handlebars? Perhaps MTB specific gloves with gel inserts might help. They could also make your symptoms worse so experimentation is necessary.

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Read this and see if it rings any bells:

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Cyclist's_palsy

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Do you tend to keep your hands in the same place a lot when riding outside? Lots of people tend to stay just on the hoods which can lead to problems. Change your hand position regularly - hoods, tops, drops - this will allow a bit more relief and will hopefully help

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Thanks very much guys. The cyclist’s palsy stuff does ring true. Also, the core strength bit. I’m only starting out on long distance cycling, and I do feel my core tiring at around 60 miles, so that may really be the root cause.

So what I’m going to do it:

  1. I have some new gloves that extend beyond the wrist to give some support. My old gloves finish right where the palm meets the wrist, the new ones go on for about two inches beyond.

  2. More core work is required!

  3. I’ll rotate the hoods towards me a bit

  4. If none of that works, I’ll raise the bars a bit

Thanks for all your comments, this was really helpful.

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Happened to me in 2016, about 4-6 months after buying a road bike and training for a 123 mile ride (with 15K feet climbing) in July 2016. Developed a pinched ulnar nerve (cyclist palsy) from putting too much weight on my handlebars, although in my case the symptom was only tingling in hand and fingers.

My next big event was a double century in the Spring 2017. Knowing this would be an issue on such a long ride, became hyper-aware of my body position on the bike. Searched Internet and found articles on Cyclist Palsy. Then started working on resolving the issue by doing the following:

  • bought a new pair of gloves with extra padding
  • changing hand positions every 1-3 minutes, using 3 different hand positions on handlebars
  • began a program of upper body resistance exercises 2-3 times a week, primarily pulling exercises like cable rows (gym) and renegade rows at home with dumbbells
  • began a program of daily bodyweight core work like bicycles, reverse crunch, and leg lifts

Was able to complete the 200 mile ride in May 2017 without any shoulder or hand issues. Woke up the next day and legs were a little tired, absolutely no issues with the rest of my body.

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Also, why is it a 10 hour bike fit???

Hey @julianoliver
I’m being a little flippant, but the bike fit itself seems fine, and in order to adjust the bike fit I’d need to do it after a long ride. For shorter periods, say up to 5 hours, my bike fit is fine.

Yoga, yoga, yoga.

Fixes nearly everything. Core, flexibility, joint strength in places you didn’t know existed!

That’s a good point.

As someone approaching 60, the age of original poster, I submit that yoga is no replacement for weight bearing exercise when it comes to things like bone loss or getting the best “bang for your buck.”

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@mcneese.chad might have more to say on the topic since it’s his area of expertise, but what you say makes sense to me. If your fit is good for 5 hours, I struggle to believe that a different fit would increase that comfort to 10 hours. I would tend to look at position fatigue after that long. As others have suggested, perhaps working on core strength may mean you rely less on leaning on your hands.

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I’m totally up for my technique and fitness not being as good as my bike or bike fit :sunglasses:

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Yeah, I have been watching this. At 5 hours, if you are comfortable, the fit is probably good. Pushing any fit, good or bad, out to 10 hours is likely to be an issue for anyone. That amount of time is significant, and more so depending on the build up leading to that time.

It is an opening for fatigue to show in a bad way, and is likely the case here. I think the suggestions for strength training with a goal of improving your entire support structure (particularly from the waist up to your shoulders, arms and such). is a great idea.

I have no specific recommendation and I think there are some good options already listed above. It boils down to conditioning the body in order to withstand the lengthy time at hand. Keeping a variety of positions in use is also very worthwhile.

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@psychopasta not one in one thousand cyclists does anything to improve or maintain grip strength. But probably one in two complain about some sort of hand/wrist pain. Become that one in one thousand cyclist. Plus improving grip strength will reduce your MI/stroke risk. Or, wait, how does that correlation/causation relationship work? :thinking:

But, anyhow, improve your grip strength. It will help.

Grip strength is important in life and the gym. Having excellent grip strength didn’t help prevent my Cyclist Palsy, as mine was caused by putting too much weight on my hands (causing ulnar nerve to get pinched). Fixing my posterior chain and awareness of posture on bike were the keys for me. Your mileage may vary.

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Hey @Brennus, I’m working on NOT gripping the bars so hard. When I first started out I was white-knuckling the bars, especially on climbs and I felt that was A Bad Thing. My goal is to touch the bars and be able to control them, but not to grip them at all if at possible.

I’m out for a 96 miler this Saturday, so we’ll see what changes the new gloves with wrist support make, and I’ll be mindful of my core weakening towards the end, as well as of changing hand positions. I’ll report back. Thank you all very much for some really thoughtful replies!

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I’m trying to follow your fractured logic here, but I think you’re trying to say that you have exceptional grip strength but it didn’t save you from cyclist palsy.

First of all, sorry you have such a debilitating injury.

Second of all, let me point out the flaw in your logic. You can also say you wore cycling gloves & you have cyclist palsy so cycling gloves will not help hand/wrist discomfort while cycling. You can also say you had a bike fit ( and if you didn’t, my goodness, why not? You’ve got cyclist palsy for gosh sakes) & you have cyclist palsy so bike fits don’t help. That’s all incorrect. Grip work, bike fit, gloves, none of those are lead-pipe cinch cure alls for cycling hand/wrist ailments but they do all certainly help.

@psychopasta has a bike fit that works. He’s probably heard about cycling gloves. I’m letting him know: hey, here is something else that will help more than gloves & you probably are NOT doing it.

I think part of your intent was to let us know you have exceptional grip strength and I’m all for a thread about that! But this is psychopasta’s thread. It’s about him. If you want to talk about your grip strength exploits, start a thread about that. Seriously. I’m down to talk about it. I checked the CoC list & didn’t see your name there but that doesn’t mean you don’t go home every evening and clean the Inch Dumbell just for fun.

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