Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over ten years. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in Cyclists
Cyclists may be at risk of developing CTS due to long hours spent in one position. These eight tips can help you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome while grinding out those long hours on the bike.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that occurs when the nerves and tendons running through the carpal tunnel of the wrist become irritated and swollen. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in the wrist comprising bones and ligaments through which nerves and tendons pass into the hand. When the wrist is overused, used improperly, or injured, swelling of the tissues in the carpal tunnel compresses the nerves and tendons. This can cause pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, and swelling in the hand and fingers.
Cyclists may be at risk of developing CTS due to long hours spent in one position, road vibration, and pressure from the hand positions we endure.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate this condition. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, start with the following tips. If the condition persists see your doctor immediately.
1. Ensure that you have a proper bike fit. Positions resulting in your weight not being distributed correctly throughout the bike can put you at high risk. If your saddle is tilted downward, this can put additional weight on to your hands.
2. Vary your position on the handlebars at least once every 15 minutes. By changing your position, you reduce the risk of compression. Avoid putting too much pressure from the bars on the carpal tunnel.
3. Wear cycling gloves. Invest in a good pair that has a lot of padding or gel in the palm.
4. Use good handlebar tape. You may even want to install gel bar pads under the tape.
5. Switch to a carbon bar. Carbon fiber reduces road vibration. A carbon fiber handle bar may be just the trick.
6. Stay light on the bars. Keep a loose grip. Beginners suffer from CTS more frequently because they are less confident and grip the bars too tightly.
7. Bend your elbows. Keep at least a 10 degree bend in your elbows. This dramatically reduces road shock. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
8. Do hand and wrist exercises. Perform these quick, simple exercises two to three times per day:
Isometrics: Make a loose fist and use the opposite hand to press against the clenched hand. Hold for 10 seconds with palm up, palm down, and thumb up.
Wrist circles: Hold the second and third fingers up and close the others. Draw five clockwise circles in the air with the two fingertips. Draw five more counterclockwise circles.
Stretching: Keeping hand open and wrist relaxed, press on fingers for 10 seconds up, down, and to both sides.
If you follow these guidelines you will decrease your risk of developing this often painful condition.
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