If You Have Wrist Pain After Your Long Rides Then Read This!
If you have wrist pain after your long rides then read this!
A few years ago I did several back to back long rides (40 to 55 miles each) and a few days later I noticed that my right wrist was super sore and it hurt to do any kind of planking or pushups. It kind of lingered for a week or so and I finally went to the hand specialist who told me I had ECU Tendonitis, most likely from the strain of putting weight on my hands for so many hours back to back. I was concerned because I didn’t want stop riding my bike and I had to figure out a way to heal the tendon.
Before I left the office of the hand specialist, he gave me something called a Wrist Widget. It is a Velcro band that leaves an opening for the Ulna. This little device is usually used for TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) injuries to the wrist .The purpose of the wrist widget is to keep the radius and Ulna from spreading apart upon weight bearing such as pushups, playing tennis or golf etc. I found it very helpful for ECU Tendonitis. The support it provides is amazing. I often wear these little wrist guards to Hot Yoga because they actually look like a cute bracelet (they come in several colors) and they keep my wrists feeling sturdy and strong especially during planks and pushups! Go to http://wristwidget.com/ to check them out! These are game changing for those who need extra wrist support!
I did a lot of research on the structure of the hand, the tendons, bones etc. I knew I had to take the pressure off this tendon completely in order to heal. It was actually the flexing of my wrist (such as on the bike handlebars) that aggravated it the most.
A little bit about the ECU tendon- it runs alongside your Ulna, the smaller lateral bone of your wrist (the one with the bump). It helps you with mobility and stability of your wrist. You can actually see this tendon when you make a fist and squeeze your fingers into your palm a few times. This tendon can become injured, as mine was, when there is significant stressful motions of flexion (such as pressing on handlebars) rotation, or lateral movements like in golf or tennis, especially the backhand stroke. When the ECU tendon is injured such as in a sport, it can move out of its groove causing a popping or clicking sound. The typical symptom is pain at the insertion of the ECU tendon near the bump on the lateral side of your wrist. Here’s a photo of the ECU Tendon.
I treated this injury with percussion using a Theragun or something similar, dry needling and scraping the tendon at the chiropractor, and splinting the wrist most of the day and even when I rode my bike. After about 4 weeks I started to see improvement and then another 2 or 3 I was symptom free.
So how did I ride my bike then? I got creative with a splint. After reading an article by Ryan Harrington, a Physical Therapist who suffered an ECU injury, I got the idea to order a Rolyan Splinting Sheet. These can be found on Amazon are a great way make a super sturdy splint mold to your wrist by placing it in hot water for a few seconds then molding it to your wrist. See pictures below.
Splint after molding in hot water (wrist is in extension position)
Splint with athletic tape wrap:
I ordered a few sheets of this in black as well and put them on underneath my cycling gloves. This way my wrist couldn’t be flexed preserving the healing of the ECU tendon but I could still ride my bike. Nobody really knew I even had it on because it was black and it blended in with my cycling gloves.
Which brings me to the question of holding onto the bars. How did I do this you ask if I had a splint on that didn’t allow me to flex my wrists on the handlebars?
I started really engaging my core….because I had to.
Did you ever notice that when cyclists get tired they tend to hunch over the handlebars, placing a lot of weight on their wrists? You can actually save your wrists and hands by consciously holding yourself upright with more core strength. Try using your hands to guide the bike but try not to lean hard on them. Feel your core contracting and lift the weight off your hands and wrists. A strong core means less pressure on the extremities. It’s a great feeling.
If you want to know more about how an athlete healed ECU Tendonitis check out this detailed article by Ryan Harrington who helped me so much with mine! https://ecusubluxation.blogspot.com/2020/06/how-i-healed-my-subluxating-extensor.html
If you want to see some detailed photos and more information on ECU Tendonitis as well as other wrist conditions and learn about the fantastic Wrist Widget brace the go to https://www.wristwidget.com/blogs/blog-archive/could-this-be-an-ecu-injury-instead-of-a-tfcc-tear. Wendy was so helpful to me and I am beyond thankful for learning about the Wrist Widget and the science behind it. Her website if full of helpful information for many wrist conditions that athletes experience doing their sports.
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