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  1. #1
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?

    I've been commuting and occasionally racing on my CX bike for several years with no issues with hand pains. But this summer I started to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. Working with doctors we thought it was primarily due to my desk job with a standard keyboard and mouse. I was very open with them about my cycling lifestyle and was dreading a suggestion to cut down on it. Thankfully they thought it was workspace related and with some workplace modifications, the pain has cleared up. But along the way I noticed that riding my CX bike was also causing a lot of pain, particularly in the left hand in the palm area along my pointer finger parts. The main aggravator was when riding on the drops and pulling on the brake. Easy solution, start commuting on the mountain bike rather than CX bike. Thankfully I get no pain from the MTB bars.

    But my CX bike has fenders and so for the last couple weeks I switched back over to using it for commutes due to wet roads in the evenings from snow melt. Sure enough, the pain in my left hand has returned. I don't find myself in the drops hitting the brakes during my commute, so it isn't that I was aggravating it by doing that. Has anyone else had this type of pain from their drop bars? Any suggestions for a change in position? This summer a doctor thought it may be more of a tendinitis issue related to lever reach rather than CTS.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?-img_0129_3.jpg

    I have this Problem.....


    I resolved to study the ideal position of hand to lower arm - must be straight, so that the blood flow/nerves are not stressed at the wrist. That was challenging, because I found that the beloved drop-bar and flat bar of conventional styles do not deliver. Then came experimentation. I tried bar ends on the flat bar in the usual outside position - too wide, tried them inside the brake levers, closer to the H/bar stem, better, but the handling dynamics changed. Developed a H/bar that allowed me to encompass all the positions and handling characteristics that I was looking for. If you convert to a flat bar on a CX bike, you need more reach in the stem, there are a lot of variables, and each person is different.

    From my own experiments, if I was to have a starting point in which to evaluate this problem, I would recommend a bar along the lines of the Mary bar. It will get you into the ballpark the quickest.

    Hope you find your personal solution.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  3. #3
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?

    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    I've been commuting and occasionally racing on my CX bike for several years with no issues with hand pains. But this summer I started to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. Working with doctors we thought it was primarily due to my desk job with a standard keyboard and mouse. I was very open with them about my cycling lifestyle and was dreading a suggestion to cut down on it. Thankfully they thought it was workspace related and with some workplace modifications, the pain has cleared up. But along the way I noticed that riding my CX bike was also causing a lot of pain, particularly in the left hand in the palm area along my pointer finger parts. The main aggravator was when riding on the drops and pulling on the brake. Easy solution, start commuting on the mountain bike rather than CX bike. Thankfully I get no pain from the MTB bars.

    But my CX bike has fenders and so for the last couple weeks I switched back over to using it for commutes due to wet roads in the evenings from snow melt. Sure enough, the pain in my left hand has returned. I don't find myself in the drops hitting the brakes during my commute, so it isn't that I was aggravating it by doing that. Has anyone else had this type of pain from their drop bars? Any suggestions for a change in position? This summer a doctor thought it may be more of a tendinitis issue related to lever reach rather than CTS.

    Thanks.
    I switched to dropbars almost 30 years to get rid of hand/wrist/arm/elbow/shoulder pain. Can not ride straight bars for more than 10 minutes.

    Shallow drop, flared drops help. Set the levers low for easy reach from the drops. Adjust the brakes to have pad contact with the lever close to the bar .
    "Ergo" bend bars cause more issues than the solve.
    Cork tape. Use an extra layer in the drops.
    Change your hand position often.
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  4. #4
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    My bars do seem to have an "ergo" bend to them that has never aligned with my hand position when in the drops. I've always meant to rotate the bars forwards/downwards so that my wrists felt like they were in a more natural position when in the drops. But then I would think of having to rotate the brifters upwards on the bar bends so I'm still in a comfortable position while on the hoods. Then I would think of how that would mess with the brake cable housing situation because I've got top-bar levers on there. Then I would fuss about having to retape the bars because I suck at it. So things have never been changed.
    I'll put a pic up of me on the bike from a few years ago. Position hasn't changed since then, but I've lost a little weight.
    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?-2011-10-22_15-10-53_135crop.jpg

  5. #5
    jrm
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    I have tried moustache bars on my commuter. Theyve seemed to relieve the wrist hand pain
    Wreck the malls with cows on Harleys

  6. #6
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    If you've been riding for years with your position the way it is, I'd leave it alone. Just because something hurts while you're riding doesn't mean that riding caused it. For example, lets say you pull your hamstring from running. It'll probably hurt you while you're riding too, but that doesn't mean you should change up your position to accommodate it. Instead, you should let the injury heal and rehab your body appropriately.

    In addition, looking at your photo, your bike setup looks to be okay, but you seem to lack a bit of core strength and hip flexibility. Weak core muscles combined with tight hips (both products of an office environment) can cause you to put more weight on your hands than you should. That could be a possible contributor to your hand pain.

  7. #7
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    Flexibility is something I've got as a remnant of being a gymnast in my youth. Unfortunately my core strength stayed in my youth with my gymnastics!

    Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?

    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    My bars do seem to have an "ergo" bend to them that has never aligned with my hand position when in the drops. I've always meant to rotate the bars forwards/downwards so that my wrists felt like they were in a more natural position when in the drops. But then I would think of having to rotate the brifters upwards on the bar bends so I'm still in a comfortable position while on the hoods. Then I would think of how that would mess with the brake cable housing situation because I've got top-bar levers on there. Then I would fuss about having to retape the bars because I suck at it. So things have never been changed.
    I'll put a pic up of me on the bike from a few years ago. Position hasn't changed since then, but I've lost a little weight.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Terrible, TERRIBLE bars for use in the drops. I find most "modern" road bars unusable in the drops. I can not use the brakes at all when setup as you have them.

    The shallow drop off-road drops let you be comfortable on the hoods and reach the levers easily from the drops.
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  9. #9
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    How's progress?

    Found these Pictures to illustrate the diversity out there.
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    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Terrible, TERRIBLE bars for use in the drops. I find most "modern" road bars unusable in the drops. I can not use the brakes at all when setup as you have them.

    The shallow drop off-road drops let you be comfortable on the hoods and reach the levers easily from the drops.
    I wouldn't call those bars "modern". Those are the first iteration of the "ergo" bend, probably early Deda Newtons. The actual modern bars from the last 2-3 years are much easier to reach the levers and actually use the drops.

  11. #11
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    I've realized that the pain is rather acute and located right where my palm contacts the left side of the left hood. Basically right beneath the lower knuckle of the left pointer finger. No riding in a week and the pain remains, though! I've got a new set of hoods on the way, but I'm avoiding riding the CX bike until the pain clears up. I'm not giving up on it, though!

  12. #12
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?

    Quote Originally Posted by msrothwe View Post
    I wouldn't call those bars "modern". Those are the first iteration of the "ergo" bend, probably early Deda Newtons. The actual modern bars from the last 2-3 years are much easier to reach the levers and actually use the drops.
    I can not use current road bars either. They are "better" but that just means I can not reach the lever by a smaller amount, and the bend is still uncomfortable.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Malcolm View Post
    How's progress?...
    Eric,
    Thanks for checking back in on me. The various bars look interesting, I've actually always wanted different bars for my CX bike because not only do the drops feel funky but I think they are way too narrow. But the bike is secondhand and noodly, so I've been too cheap to invest in it other than tires and fenders. Since it worked fine for a few years with no pain, I haven't felt a need to modify components to make it work for me. Now is the first time I've felt like I need to change something in order to keep riding this bike. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I suspect that my pain is actually due to the contact point between my palm and the hood. The current hoods are original and the rubber shape is pretty worn down. While it doesn't cause pain to have my hands on the hoods, I think it aggravates the hand parts at that location which causes pain from other motions (the braking while in the drops). Sort of like how typing and mousing never caused me pain but it resulted in minor CTS that caused pain from other motions like bearing weight on my palms.

    That's my current non-medically trained self-diagnosis anyway. New hoods were $10, keeping in line with the reluctance to invest in this bike. If I have to buy new bars, well then I may as well buy a sweet new CX bike that comes with nice bars. Right?!

  14. #14
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    CTS/tendinitis from use of drop bars?

    Quote Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
    Eric,
    Thanks for checking back in on me. The various bars look interesting, I've actually always wanted different bars for my CX bike because not only do the drops feel funky but I think they are way too narrow. But the bike is secondhand and noodly, so I've been too cheap to invest in it other than tires and fenders. Since it worked fine for a few years with no pain, I haven't felt a need to modify components to make it work for me. Now is the first time I've felt like I need to change something in order to keep riding this bike. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I suspect that my pain is actually due to the contact point between my palm and the hood. The current hoods are original and the rubber shape is pretty worn down. While it doesn't cause pain to have my hands on the hoods, I think it aggravates the hand parts at that location which causes pain from other motions (the braking while in the drops). Sort of like how typing and mousing never caused me pain but it resulted in minor CTS that caused pain from other motions like bearing weight on my palms.

    That's my current non-medically trained self-diagnosis anyway. New hoods were $10, keeping in line with the reluctance to invest in this bike. If I have to buy new bars, well then I may as well buy a sweet new CX bike that comes with nice bars. Right?!
    On-One Midge bars are wider, flared, shallow drop, and generally more comfortable. The flare angles the hoods letting you rest pretty much the whole palm on the side of the lever body. About $25 shipped from Plaxet X USA.
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  15. #15
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    I've had a brain storm. I've got a spare MTB flat bar and stem, maybe I should just convert the CX bike over to flat bar. If I did this, I'd likely convert the triple-ring crank to a 42T single ring of same BCD from the parts bin and dump the front derailleur. I'd likely have to figure out a chain catching scheme but I'll worry about that later. The existing rear derailleur is Shimano XT, so I'd likely need to find a front 9-sp Shimano shifter which I don't think would be a problem.

    But what do I do about the brakes? Is a standard MTB V-brake/mech disc brake lever compatible with cantilever brakes?

    EDIT: I looked it up and found that I should be getting a canti-specific brake lever. I'm pricing stuff out on the cheap off ebay and I might be able to do this for $40-50$ investment in right 9-sp Shimano MTB shifter, canti brake levers, and new cables. We'll see, I'll start out just trying out the new hoods first.

    The hand is feeling quite a bit better now, 2 weeks off the drop bars and I picked up bike commuting again this week but on the MTB.

  16. #16
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    Can I use the existing crosstop inline levers as stand alone levers if I converted to a flat bar setup? They are Cane Creek.

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