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Most riders seem to say it's their groin, neck or lower back that starts hurting first after a decent distance has been ridden. For me it is my wrists.

I have no history of wrist pain (strains, breaks etc) so it can't be explained by that and I try to adjust my hand positions across my handlebars as often as I can.

My question has 2 parts:

1. Is there anything I can do to minimise pain in terms of riding position, gloves, exercises etc which will reduce soreness?

2. Why might this pain be occurring?

*I do all of my riding on paved roads on a road (Specialized Allez) bike.

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    I had a (flat bar) bike where trying padded grips and gloves, and adding bar ends for more hand positions, didn't help, but swapping the stem to a shorter one did. But without knowing more about your riding position, I have no idea if that's the same problem you have. It wasn't obvious to me that I had too much weight on my hands with the original set-up, but apparently I did. If you have or can borrow an adjustable stem, see if different positions help. – armb Aug 12 '15 at 16:13
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    While you say you try to adjust my hand positions, what positions do you use most? How long have you been using this bike, and road bikes in general? What distances are you normally riding, and what's a long ride? The Allez handlebar setup is one I just would not be comfortable with: not enough drop, the straight section of the drop is too low an angle, and the hoods are too low. But to give real advice we need more info! – andy256 Aug 12 '15 at 22:35
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    My guess is that you've got a bike fit problem. It may be that adjusting seat and bar position is enough to fix it, or your bike may be too big for you. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 13 '15 at 0:31
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    @Daniel Yes, I agree. – andy256 Aug 13 '15 at 1:09
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    You probably need to get a knowledgeable buddy to observe your riding posture. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 13 '15 at 11:02
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Some things you can do to alleviate hand/wrist pain:

  1. Raise handlebars and/or shorter stem
  2. Padded gloves
  3. Double layer of handlebar tape or gel pads under the tape
  4. Move hand location frequently between cross bar, hoods, corners and drops (for me at least, when my handlebars are higher I tend to spend more time in the drops)

If you want to maintain your forward lean angle for efficiency you can address wrist pain with padding, but if you don't need an aggressive forward lean then you can play around with handlebar position to provide a more upright comfortable lean angle.

  • Do you mean padding on the handlebars themselves? – MyFamily Aug 13 '15 at 8:26
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    Riders on Paris-Roubaix (the race that goes over cobbled sections) put a layer of textile tape or thin bar tape under the normal bar type. An increased diameter of the bar gives the hands and wrists relief. – Carel Aug 13 '15 at 15:38
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    @MyFamily - yes, padding on the handlebars. Either 2 layers of tape or gel pads under the tape. I use 2 layers of (thick) tape on one of my bikes. It make the handlebars larger diameter but I have big hands, so it works well for me. – obelia Aug 13 '15 at 19:40
  • @obelia thanks for the tip, I'll certainly give it a go – MyFamily Aug 14 '15 at 8:27
  • @obelia I bought a similar product to your suggestion and tried it out on a ride this morning - wrists felt so much better. It must be pain caused from shocks and vibrations from rough roads being absorbed by my wrists. Without making any other changes (tube height, handlebars etc) the pain is significantly reduced. I'll mark as answer – MyFamily Aug 23 '15 at 12:15
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As @Daniel has commented, and I agreed, you probably have a bike fit problem. We cannot be sure; the only way to find out for sure is to get a professional fitting done. Having said that there are still a few things you can try.

While you say you try to adjust my hand positions, what positions do you use most?
...
The Allez handlebar setup is one I just would not be comfortable with: not enough drop, the straight section of the drop is too low an angle, and the hoods are too low.
...
@andy256 mostly on the hoods, I don't tend to use drops very often - only for variety.

There are several different ways of riding on the hoods. Try them out if you haven't already:

  • With the thumbs only on the hoods, palms vertical, fingers pointing forward touching the brifter.
    You can easily operate brakes from this position.

  • With the thumbs only on the hoods, palms vertical, wrists high, two fingers wrapped under the hoods, similar to sprinting on the hoods.
    You can operate brakes from this position, but not so easily.

  • With the base of the thumb on the hoods, palms near 45°, one or two fingers touching the brifter.
    This is a common position, but it IMO it is the one that causes such problems.
    You can easily operate brakes from this position.

  • Palms further back, with some fingers either side of the "horn" of the brifter.
    You can not easily operate brakes from this position.
    Good for variety. Can alleviate discomfort.

  • Palms further forward, resting on the "horn". Fingers forward, just dangling, palm horizontal.
    You can not easily operate brakes from this position.
    Good for variety, and gives more stretch.

The last two are clearly just for variety. They have obvious dangers.

There are other positions you can use for variety.

  • Hands at the end of the drops, arms almost straight. Your body position is not much different from having your hands on the hoods. You can't reach the brakes.

  • Hands further forward on the drops, just touching the upward curve. This requires a different wrist position, but may be worse for you. Some people can reach the brakes, but on the Allez I don't think you will.

  • Hands on the tops with elbows bent and tucked back beside your body. This can be uncomfortable at first but may grow on you. Your body position is still low.
    Again, you're not anywhere near you brakes.

  • Sitting up more, with hands on the tops. Your hands can be close to the middle or wider to the corners. You'll find each position puts your wrist in a slightly different position.

  • Again, sitting up more, with hands on the corners. You can have your fingers pointing forward and to the inside, or have your thumbs on the bars with fingers underneath. These have very different wrist positions.

  • And finally, if you're really into relaxed positions and don't mind a little less control, rest your wrists on the tops, with hands dangling.
    There are obvious dangers in this position.

These positions are not for everybody. Some don't work on a given bike, or with a given person's body. Bikes and people are all different. Try some of them and see if they help.

As with any on bike experiments, do it in a safe location.

I have not mentioned adjusting the brifter position. On many bikes I'd try that, but I don't think that would work on the Allez. But you could rotate the bars slightly to make the hoods angle up more. 5 to 10° should be enough to have an effect. I think changing the angle is more important than lifting them (everybody has their theory).

Finally, try taking one hand off the bars and shake it from time to time, then do it with the other hand.

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Regarding part 1:

I'd start by raising the stack height a bit so that you lean on your wrists with less weight; your position will be more upright and less aerodynamic. Along with this, make sure your saddle is properly adjusted for height.

More importantly you should try strengthening your abdominal muscles. With a stronger core you will be able to support yourself less with your arms/wrists.

Regarding Part 2:

It could be happening because of improper position/bit fit (saddle too high/bars too low), weak core, bars are too narrow for your frame (approx. chest width), etc.

From my own experience on a Specialized Allez and Secteur - both similar Aluminum road bikes, the latter considered more comfort/endurance - I can say that I have had wrist pain on long rides and the core strengthening was really all that helped me, regardless of my position in relation to the bars. You might also try some bar gel under your tape for extra comfort.

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If you ride alone you could try clip-on aerobars. With these you basically get rid of all strain on your hands and better aerodynamics

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