The Christmas presents have been opened! And once again, bicycles are among the most requested (and appreciated!) gifts for children and teens. Additionally, during the current pandemic, more kids and adults than ever have turned to bicycling and cycling for outdoor recreation.
But while biking is great fun, good for your health, and a perfect activity for social distancing, bicycling can also involve injuries including ones to the hands and wrists. And, in addition to injury from falls and crashes, research has found that approximately 31 percent of cyclists reported hand problems due to overuse.
So, whether you or your children are simply bicycling around the neighborhood, going on off-road adventures, or taking-up long-distance road cycling, it is important to take precautions to protect your arms and hands from injury.
Causes of Bike Injury to the Hand or Wrist
There are three primary causes of wrist and hand injury from bicycling and cycling: improper positioning, sustained positioning or trauma from a fall or collision.
#1. Hand Injury from Improper Bicycle Positioning
Buying the correct sized bike, and having the seat properly aligned, is essential. A misfit between the cyclist and the bike can result in discomfort or injury to the spine, legs, and also the arms.
Symptoms that of poor positioning can include numbness and tingling in the any of the fingers or the thumb. Poor bicycle positioning can also result in problems with hand coordination and pain in the arms, wrist, hands and back.
To avoid hand injury from improper bicycle positioning, try to:
Keep hands positioned no wider than shoulder-width apart
Do not angle the wrists too far back, forward or inward.
Change handlebars from straight to angled (or use “aero bars”).
Wear padded gloves to absorb shock and vibration
#2. Hand Injury from Sustained Bicycle Positioning
Even with the best bike fit, sustained positioning while bicycling puts continued pressure and constant shock and vibration on the blood vessels, nerves, joints and muscles in the hand. As a result, bicycling for long periods of time can cause tissue breakdown and inflammation.
To avoid hand injury from bicycle sustained positioning, try to:
Select a bike that is not excessively angled forward toward the bars
Do core strengthening exercises if a bike with a steep forward angle is necessary
Frequently move the body parts that are usually static during a ride
Change hand holds every three to five minutes
Stretch before, on breaks and after the ride.
#3. Hand Injury from Trauma (Bike Falls)
Bike falls and collisions are a common cause of injury in children. It goes without saying that a properly fitting helmet should be required safety equipment whenever and wherever a child or adult is bicycling. But two common injuries from bicycle falls cannot be prevented with a helmet: broken, sprained or separated collar bone (clavicle) and broken or sprained scaphoid (wrist bone near the thumb).
Avoiding hand injury from bicycle falls:
Wrist and hand injuries usually occur when the bike rider extends their arm to break the fall. But if the biker holds on to the handle bars while falling, the entire body can absorb the impact – rather than concentrating the force of the fall on these two bones in the outstretched arm. This can minimize the trauma to the wrist, fingers, shoulder and hand – and help avoid broken bones and sprained joints.
And remember, it is extremely important to see a hand doctor if you have wrist pain or swelling after a bike fall! Rapid treatment can help to avoid serious issues including avascular necrosis (failure of bone to heal) and long term loss of mobility or function.
Bike Hand Injury Doctor – Bloomfield Hills, MI
Have fun bicycling! But be aware of the most common arm, wrist and hand-related bike injuries, so you can take some of the necessary steps to prevent these injuries from occurring during your rides.
And if you experience “pins and needles” in your fingers during or after riding, aching or throbbing on the small finger side of the hand, or hand or wrist pain or swelling after a fall, schedule a consultation with experienced hand doctor Uzma Rehman, MD at her Bloomfield Hills or Shelby Twp. Office.