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Handlebar palsy

tjwoodtjwood Posts: 328
I started MTBing about 4 weeks ago after many years without touching a bike. I started slowly & mainly commuting to work (10 miles each way) to build up fitness. After my first off-road ride of any decent length (3 and a half hours on the bike) I found I was suffering from a lack of movement in my left hand, particularly the little finger - after doing some googling I've found this is "handlebar palsy" or "cyclists palsy".

After a week with little riding it was mostly better. I read up a bit and decided it could be due to bad bike setup - I tried moving my saddle forward about an inch which resulted in me putting much less weight through my arms most of the time. This weekend I did another ride of similar length and made sure I moved my hands around and tried not to lean too much weight through my arms. While nowhere near as bad as the first time I still have a slight inability to move my left little finger afterwards.

I've always worn gel gloves.

Are there any other obvious bike setup things I could suggest? My saddle will go forward another inch or so, will this help? Also I've contemplated getting some better grips but I don't know how much difference these will make? Anyone suggest anything?

Bike is a Rockhopper 09 Comp, stock apart from the pedals. It's a 21" frame and I'm 6'4" if that makes any difference.



  • what about ergo grips, a cheap, simple starting point, then you can alter stems etc if that wont help
    i spent all me money on whisky and beer!!!
  • parkaboyparkaboy Posts: 15
    The most obvious thing with palsies is wrist extension.(ie the hand bending back toward you) So angling the brake levers down will take stretch off the ulnar nerve.

    The other is to try some different gloves, some of the gel gloves are very bulky and can roll the pressure to the little fingers.
  • tjwoodtjwood Posts: 328
    parkaboy wrote:
    The most obvious thing with palsies is wrist extension.(ie the hand bending back toward you) So angling the brake levers down will take stretch off the ulnar nerve.

    Mmm yeah that makes sense. Thinking about it I probably have tended to hold the bars with my wrist bent back somewhat (even when not covering the brakes) so maybe this is part of the problem. I will try to avoid doing that and maybe see if angling the brake levers downwards will help.

    Also my LBS has some of these grips for less than a tenner which I guess if adjusted properly would encourage me to keep my wrist straight, so I might give them a shot.

  • Thermo1Thermo1 Posts: 75
    Also check our the range of Ergon grips. The GC, GR and GX range have a flared palm extension (like the Spesh BG ones mentioned above) to put your wrist in a better position.

    I had sore rests as well and the Ergon GR2 grips alleviated the problem.

    Bear in mind with these ergo grips - you need to spend some time adjusting them to suit. Don't just whack them on and expect them to be right. It's all about the angle.
  • PietroBPietroB Posts: 1
    or use some well made padded grips. One such brand is Oury. I've had mine for 3 years and couldn't be happier.
  • DazzzaDazzza Posts: 2,364
    Ergo grips can be hit and miss, as already said tilt your brakes etc further downwards to relieve the strain. lose the gel gloves as they can cause more problems as the gel pad ends up pressing on the nerve in the first place.

    Have you tried riser bars, they help as well personally i love easton cnt bars and lock on grips, the carbon soaks up a lot of the trail buzz whilst the lock ons don't sit directly on the bars reducing the buzz transmitted as well, i used ergon grips and they made the problem worse, ent back to odi's and not a problem since.

    But as said they need a lot of fiddling around to find what is the right position.
    The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
    Giant Anthem X
  • tjwoodtjwood Posts: 328
    Thanks for all the comments. I have tilted my brake levers down a bit and made a real effort on my commute today to keep my wrists straight. OK so it's not the most taxing terrain but it did feel more comfortable than before. I think I will look at some of the shaped grips to encourage me to keep the wrists straight, thanks for suggesting the different options.
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