Get a Grip

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolGet a Grip

A frequent complaint of riders is forearm fatigue and other hand/wrist/arm discomfort. There is a medical explanation for this according to the Mayo Clinic. “Hand numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist.”

Some of these nerves run right through the palms of your hands, which are also the same areas that support your weight on a bike! Over the years many studies have demonstrated the extent of the problem and the need for relief. “Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in Motorcyclists” is a 2012 study that found CTS was present in both hands in 8% of riders, 30% in the right hand and 12% in the left hand. Other studies here and abroad of Enduro riders and police motorcyclists found that there was an increased rate of hand symptoms associated with greater cumulative vibration exposure of the hands over time.

So what can you do to alleviate these symptoms? One solution is to try a motorcycle glove with a gel palm that mitigates and can absorb some of the high-level vibration and decrease aggravation to the wrist and hands.  Other stress-reducing suggestions are to use a wrist rest, larger and/or foam grips, weighted bar ends, cruise control and/or throttle locks.

Here are some more tips to consider:

 

  • Avoid extending your wrists – keep them in a neutral position on the handgrips
  • Don’t hold the grips tightly – use a looser grip
  • Avoid high handlebars!
  • Move your hands around and stretch them often
  • Turn your head and lean it from side to side to stretch your neck muscles
  • Add some shoulder rolls and swing your arms around a few times before and after you ride
  • Don’t wear a watch or bracelet that may compress your wrist while riding especially after you put your gloves on. Even rings can impact the blood flow to your fingers.
  • Put less weight on your wrists by using your core abdominal and leg muscles
  • Bring a small rubber or tennis ball on long rides and squeeze it on breaks
  • Keep hands relaxed, upper body loose, only lightly touching and steering the bars
  • Shake your hands out every half hour or so
  • Try heated grips

 

Check your rider/bike ergonomics. You may benefit by using levers with a shorter, or longer reach. A small change in handlebar position may help. Many riders use handlebar risers to bring the handlebars closer to the rider. A different seat may also bring you closer, or farther away and make the difference.

 

Of course if the condition persists, it’s always best to get it checked out by a trained medical professional. They may suggest something as simple as some physical therapy, or a few exercises to help.

 

Ride Safe!