Cyclists are prone to several kinds of injuries when out on the road. One of the most prevalent injuries is called Ulnar Neuropathy, also known as Cyclist Palsy or Handlebar Palsy. This condition is most common in recurrent road cyclists or mountain bikers.
Cyclist Palsy is an injury to the ulnar nerve, which runs along the entire length of the arm and provides for movement and feeling in the arm and hand.
The main symptoms of Cyclist Palsy are:
- Tingling and numbness running from the forearm to the little finger
- Occasional pain on the forearm or hand
- Weakness of grip
Cyclist Palsy develops when the position of the hands over the handlebars place a lot of pressure on the ulnar nerve, which contributes to its damage. Another reason for the development of this condition is the constant vibrations from the road or trails, which also damage the ulnar nerve.
If left untreated, both the vibrations and the positioning of the hands lead to the loss of the protective coating around the ulnar nerve, which in turn inhibits the nerve signal from traveling past the point of injury and makes the muscles weaker.
Cyclist Palsy can develop after multiple days of road cycling or a single day of mountain biking.
How to Prevent Cyclist Palsy
- When riding, try distributing your weight evenly across your hands on the handlebars.
- Wear padded gloves or ride with padded handlebars.
- Have the seat height and position of your bike set up by a professional, to make sure the amount of weight you place on your wrists is minimal.
- During long rides, shift the position of your hands regularly.
- For mountain cyclists, it is important to have good shocks on the front forks of your bike.
- Exercise your wrists before and after a ride by doing wrist extensors and wrist flexors.
If you have been experiencing Cyclist Palsy symptoms, visit a hand specialist as soon as possible for a thorough evaluation and proper