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I've been riding for a couple weeks after years of not sitting on bike in order to strengthen my health. I've been commuting to my work and school (12km/7.45 miles from my home) about three days a week and then resting/waiting (because of seasonal rains in my area). About three weeks ago I've started to feel ache in my right forearm in area highlighted in picture and it continues to ache for a couple more days when I lift something heavy or twist my hand or sometimes even without cause. After about ten days it has gone, but when I got on bike three days ago again, it has started again. Sometimes I also feel numbness or cramps in fingers in my right hand, but when I take off my hand of bike and stretch my fingers for a couple of seconds, it will go away.

Any suggestions what could be the cause of the forearm pain? I will see my local orthopedist in a week, but I don't trust him much as he is pretty lazy to even properly diagnose something. The only thing that has crossed my mind is that my handlebar is too low for me. aching forearm

  • Are you wearing or have you tried padded gloves? – mikes May 14 '15 at 10:55
  • Rule number five still applies! ;-) – Carel May 14 '15 at 11:35
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    @Carel Rule 5 always applies :-) – andy256 May 14 '15 at 12:27
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    (Do note that persistent sharp or "electric" pain from within the muscles that lasts more than a few days is suggestive of muscle, tendon, or nerve injury, vs simple "muscle soreness", and it merits more concern. If the pain is relatively diffuse, however, then you probably are suffering from simple "overuse".) – Daniel R Hicks May 14 '15 at 12:33
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    Sounds like that's something you should post as a new question. – freiheit May 14 '15 at 22:48
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There are multiple possible causes for this kind of pain.

Of course, you should see a medical person in case something more serious is going on than our amateur diagnosis suggests.

In general, this is a kind of overuse injury. This can have different causes (and each would have slightly different symptoms). Part of the reason is that you've taken a break and those muscles are just not as strong as they used to be. Common causes are

  • The most common cause is your seat too high relative to the handlebars, leading you to put more weight on your forearms. This would be more common for mountain bikes and flat-bars, and seems more likely given the posted diagram.

  • Another cause to gripping too tightly. You could be gripping the handlebars too tightly, or trying to do too many jumps, etc. This can also be due to repeated hard braking.

  • You could be overstretching the tendons / muscles, by riding with your wrists low so that your hands are higher than your wrists, or with your wrists bent to the side so that each wrist is bent inwards or outwards. This is more likely on a road bike if you ride with your hands "on the corners" a lot. Or perhaps if the handlebars are too narrow.

  • Even stranger, it can be caused by pushing too hard on indexed gear levers. You would probably know if your enthusiastic gear changes were causing it.

EDIT

Often the solution to this kind of problem is suggested by the diagnosis but requires some experimentation because the the result of a change can be hard to predict. Everything is interconnected, so changing one thing without full understanding can have unintended consequences. If you make changes yourself then be vigilant for other issues.

Taking the bike to your LBS to get them to check your position is recommended.

  • I imagine the seat being too high would manifest itself elsewhere (knee pain/ back pain etc). I think my money would be on gripping too tightly. – Holloway May 14 '15 at 11:32
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    @Trengot Yes (to the high seat symptoms). Perhaps it would be better if I said seat too high relative to the handlebars. – andy256 May 14 '15 at 12:22
  • Thanks for the suggestions, would setting the handlebar a bit higher also loosen my grip or do I have to control my gripping? – user44697 May 14 '15 at 13:37
  • Often the solution to this kind of problem requires some experimentation because the the result of a change can be hard to predict. Taking the bike to your LBS to get them to check your position is recommended. – andy256 May 14 '15 at 21:40
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I get something similar from high-seat / low handlebars. It seems to be pressure and circulation / nerve related.

The easy fix was to get some of these large surface area bike grips
http://www.amazon.com/Ergon-Biokork-Bicycle-Handlebar-Grip/dp/B004P8FN28

Also- if you're wearing a backpack, this will add a bunch of extra force on your hands. So keep the bag light.

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Two other possibilities that have created wrist pain for me:

1) Large, hard handlebar grips. You wouldn't think it make a difference, but I used to get a pain in the wrist every time I rode my wife's bike, until I replaced her grips.

2) Too much acceleration. When I accelerate, I use my arms and chest to wobble the bike against my legs, it never used to be a problem but when I started doing it again after a long pause, I could really feel my wrists and forearms being stressed.

If you find that one of these is the problem there are simple solutions. 1) Replace with soft grips 2) Start shifting gears more.

  • Excellent point with the wider grips. I tried double-wrapping with some fairly thick bartape once, and the resulting grip was too large. Didn't stay on the bike long enough to cause hand pain, but I can totally see how it could have gone that way. +1 for new info, and welcome to SE. Do please browse the tour to learn how things work on this site. – Criggie Jun 25 '17 at 11:46

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