Pins and needles on the footbike

Swept-back handlebarFootbikers seem to have more numb-hand issues than regular bicyclists, as we push and pull the handlebars with every power stroke. (Well-fitted bicyclists can rest their hands lightly on the bars as they spin their pedals.)

We’re not alone, however; computer workers also have hand issues of numbness and pain, which are often put down to carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Nine tendons and one nerve pass through the carpal tunnel at the base of the hand; when the wrist is bent or twisted for long periods (at the mouse or handlebars), those tendons are subject to swelling or degeneration, and the subsequent narrowing of the canal can result in that nerve getting entrapped or compressed.

In both areas, prophylaxis involves maintaining a natural wrist position, unbent and untwisted. I use a vertical mouse at my computer that maintains a palm-in position, which is the natural attitude of the hand. (Let your hands hang down by your side – the palms will face one another.)

But the palms-down position of your hands on a flat handlebar twists the wrists 90 degrees and can bend them back, too, and will become untenable before long. Holding the handlebar extensions on most footbikes will fix this, but since the G3 Sport Classic Kickbike, the brake levers don’t follow the bend of the ‘bars, and reaching for them requires some forethought – especially while kicking, when you have to hang on.

My solutions are 1. “cowhorn” bars with reverse brake levers that are attached to the end of the “horns,” or 2. swept-back bars like the Nitto “Dove.” The “Dove” bars can be reversed for about 6″ height variation; both are very comfortable.

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