Hands and arms
Hands and arms
Stack and reach also affects the arms, with the arms having to work as hard as the neck and back if your setup is too low and long.
Locked out arms – the result of having to reach too far for the handlebar – will place too much pressure on the biceps. If your arms are slightly bent it allows you to chop and change your riding position on the bike, another important factor which Burt says people – very often new cyclists – forget or don’t realise.
“A lot of people get arm and neck pain when they first start cycling because they don’t know to change positions when riding,” he explains. “That means getting out of the saddle occasionally and frequently change the positions of your hands to combat any over-use problems.
“We have people who come across from rowing, for example, and they just don’t know they can change position because they’re not used to doing that.”
Your arms shouldn’t ache when riding, and if they do then it’s likely a sign of a bad fit, Burt explains.
“We’re talking symptoms like pins and needles in the hand because of pressure on the ulnar nerve, for example,” he adds.
Putting all the weight on the front end can cause numbness in the ulnar nerve in the hand, with Burt citing one LEJOG rider whose nerve became compressed so badly it died as a result of his bad bike position. The rider had been led to believe his position was fine and so attributed the numbness and pain to the effects of endurance riding when alarm bells should have rung.
Drop and reach can cause hand numbness if too much body weight is thrown forward by your position, while handlebar width can also cause discomfort.
Your handlebar, as a general rule should measure the same as the width from acromion to acromion (the pointy bit of bone you can feel where your arm meets the shoulder) when standing upright off the bike).
“Too wide and you end up splaying your hands, they will take a lot of weight through the palms and you can end up with numb hands,” Burt says. “You see that a lot with women because bikes arrive with a 44cm or 42cm ‘bar as standard, and they often have a narrower body than that.
“Too narrow is less common but you can get wrist pain through having to lock them inwards.”