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What To Do For Elbow Pain When Cycling

Pain in the back of the elbow can be a very discouraging problem for cyclists.  Fortunately, it can be a relatively simple correction.  Before you can correct a problem, you have to first identify why you have a problem.  Let’s first discuss a couple possible reasons as to the “why.”  It’s very common when a rider is just starting out with cycling, that they grip the handlebars or the hoods too tightly, which causes the Triceps, or the back of your arms, to contract to support your weight on the bars.  If you can imagine, long rides, while gripping the bars too tightly, will put constant stress on the back of the elbow where the Triceps attach.  If you ride 3 days a week for a month it becomes very evident as to why the back of your elbow becomes painful.

There Is A Simple Solution to This Problem

Stretch, ice the area of pain, and train yourself to not grip the handlebars so tightly.

But for those cyclists that have been riding for years and have recently developed the same problem, we have to look at some other possibilities.  This is a problem that is more consistent with those who have recently bought a new bike or handlebar/stem configuration.  When riding on a properly fit bike, your arms should be in a relaxed position with minimal muscle contraction on the Triceps.  When a stem on your bike is too long, you begin to use your triceps as a support, or a crutch to keep you upright on your handlebars.  Our recommendation for a problem such as this is:

  1. Make sure that the bike is properly fit to you.
  2. As we mentioned earlier, stretch and use ice.

Ice is more important in the beginning stages of this condition due to the fact that the longer that you have this condition, the more inflammation you will develop.  The longer inflammation is present, the faster it is to develop calcifications in the tendons making it a permanent problem.

If we can resolve the cause and the inflammation, and follow it up with a balancing of muscle and function, this pain could become a problem of the past.  Life without pain is possible when all of the pieces are in place.  If you are concerned about how your body is functioning on a total balance standpoint, please contact our office for an evaluation.  Call Family Health and Rehab at 435-674-7515 to start the journey back to total health.

Dr. Spencer Andersen DC, BCAO