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Preventing Hand Pain When Road Bike Cycling

crossfit cycling

One of the most common cycling issues is known as handlebar palsy. What happens is a compression of the ulnar nerve. This is the nerve that runs to your little finger and ring finger. This will lead to issues like leaving your hands weak, numb, and tingling or making it harder to change gears. 

Almost all riders will experience this in their riding lifetime. And with cycling now regularly featuring in CrossFit events, the issue is of concern to millions of CrossFit athletes right across the world. But actually, it does not need to be a normal part of bike riding. A little bit of discomfort is common when you’re first starting out, but there is a lot you can do to alleviate it.

There are a number of things that can help make it easier. 


Wearing the right cycling gloves is going to make a big difference to your road bike cycling enjoyment. The right gloves will give you the correct grip. Riding gloves are part of your protective gear, and you should always be wearing them anyway. They will be what prevents gravel rash on your palms in the event of a fall. But padded gloves can also help to alleviate any wrist pain you are suffering from. The padding around the base of the thumb will take any pressure off the ulna. The right gloves can prevent compression and soreness. It’s also important to think about what watch you wear while cycling. That is of course, if you do choose to wear a watch. If you do choose to wear one, make sure you get a small, lightweight one, like these cycling watches, to ensure if doesn’t affect your performance.

Proper Fit

If your bike doesn’t fit you properly, you are going to experience discomfort and some numbing. Bike fit is a massive issue when it comes to numbness and hand pain. This is because you will put too much pressure on your hands, trying to make sure that you stay on the bike. Many bike fitters will simply raise your handlebars to stop that pressure. But that doesn’t necessarily work. There are plenty of good online bike size charts that can assist in getting the perfect size for you.

You might need to play with rising and lowering the handlebars and raising and lowering the saddle a little. Or potentially, you may need to change the saddle altogether. Generally, bike fit is one of the most frequent pain causes for road bike users.


Of the five contact points on the bike, a grip presents two of them. You are no matter what, always in contact with your gripl. So it is essential that it fits in your hand to maintain comfort. This may mean that you need to spend some money on a better set of groups for your bike, instead of relying on the ones that came with it.

Great grips will support the rider as much as possible without disturbing any of their freedom. And your riding style will determine the best grip for you. If you are a road bike user, then you can play around with things like bar type.

Move Them

The best thing you can do to prevent numbness and pain while riding is to move your hands around. Not only will this reduce some of the pain because you’re not putting pressure in one spot anymore, but it will also help increase the blood flow down to your fingertips. Something that many people don’t realize is that when you keep your hand in one place and don’t move them around, you’re more likely to cause pain. Changing your hand position riding on the hood, the drops, and the tops can make a huge difference.


Pay attention to the shift placement. After you’ve had a bike for a while they can slip, and this might be forcing your wrists to sit at a very unnatural angle. Your wrist should be in line with the forearm so that the actuation of the break is just done by a gentle curl of the fingers. You should not have to curl or stretch your wrist when trying to break. Any levers should also be very easy to reach.

Environmental Impact

It might be that every time you ride your bike, you notice pain in your wrist, but it might not be your bike that’s causing it. Many office workers and people with repetitive motion can have carpal tunnel. The pain simply presents itself during a bike ride and makes sure that any work you do outside of your bike riding is set up ergonomically. This will help eliminate any of the inflammation that is causing tension. This could potentially mean changing your seat or desk light and the angle of your keyboard.

It is worth noting that if you do find that every time you ride your bike, you have pain and numbness that you can speak to the doctor to see if there are any exercises or medication that can help.

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