Peddle power during COVID times...

Robin Hood introduced to the world men in tights, COVID19 has consolidated for the world men, and woman, in lycra. With people avoiding public transport and trying to be healthier, local councils have recorded a soar in road bike commuters.

There are very few downfalls to this new healthier and greener way to get from A to B. However, for those who are new to the pedals here are a few things to look out for when it comes to one of your most valuable tools when riding: your arms.

Cyclist or Handlebar Palsy:

With poor wrist positioning when resting the hand on the handlebars, a nerve that passes through the wrist on the little finger side can get compressed. This nerve is called the ulnar nerve and the area it gets compressed is referred to as Guyon’s canal. The symptoms typically experienced begin with pins and needles or reduced sensation in the ring and little fingers and/or reduced range of movement of these two fingers. The hand may also feel weak and clumsy.  The solution could be simply to review the set-up of the bike or to use gloves that cushion the area of compression.  However prolonged symptoms can indicate pressure on the nerve, and you should seek advice from a Practitioner of Hand Therapy if symptoms persist.

Bikers elbow:

When new to riding it is common to think of riding injuries as traumatic crashes, however it is common amongst cyclists to develop elbow tendon pain, more commonly referred to as Tennis or Golfer’s elbow (Medial and Lateral epicondylitis respectively). When cycling, your elbows act as shock absorbers over bumps and uneven ground and can take a beating. So if you are wondering if that stubborn pain at your elbows from riding is a real injury then the answer is: probably yes. Unfortunately, chronic conditions like Biker’s elbow can take as long if not longer to heal than acute injuries and the sooner you address the pain and seek medical advice typically the faster the results. Seek the opinion of your local Practitioner of Hand Therapy today.

Wrist sprain:

There is usually an underlying cause of ‘sprained’ wrist. If you have come off your bike and the initial x-ray indicates no fracture, but your wrist pain is continuing, don’t ignore it. The wrist anatomy is very complex so get some advice, an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment from a practitioner of hand therapy.

Don’t for a moment let this information deter you from staying on your bike. There are so many identified benefits both physically and mentally from exercise like cycling - and the environment will thank you.

Here’s a fun fact: Measurements from the European Space Agencys Sentinel-5P satellite show that during late January and early February 2020, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial areas in Asia and Europe were lower than in the same period in 2019 by as much as 40%. Most NO2 comes from road transportation and power plants, and less cars (more bikes) means a healthier world. So wear that lycra with pride, keep the pedal power going and if you run into trouble we are here to help.


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