I’m still a bit banged up from my crash on Sunday but I wanted to get a post up about something I have been thinking about. Lately I have been seeing a lot of those new ergo-grips. You know the ones – they have the wings coming off of them and are meant to help with hand fatigue and forearm tendinitis.

I know a lot of riders who love them and swear that they help them. I don’t doubt that they help but I do have to wonder if it is a bit like wearing a weight belt for deadlifts. If this is the case I think that they may be causing more harm than good.

It seems to me that there is a weakness in the hands and wrists that is causing the pain in the first place. The ergo-grips just artificially strengthen them instead of forcing you to fix the problem. In my experience most riders also need some soft tissue work and stretching in that area. Put together, this may actually help more than the ergo-grips.

I also think that a lot of these riders have a poor cockpit set up. If your brake levers and shifter are set up so that you are leaning into the bars with bent wrists you are simply set up wrong. Your cockpit should allow a rider to have a straight and strong wrist most of the time as this will transfer more force through the bones and places far less stress on the wrist tendons.

To borrow an analogy from Mike Boyle, it’s like the smoke detector in a house is going off and the solution is to pull the batteries out so it will shut up. The pain has a real cause – bad cockpit set up, tight muscles and tendons, poor wrist and finger strength or a combination of these problems. Simply switching grips to silence the pain only delays the inevitable and makes it worse – you will end up hurting again.

Hey, I could be wrong. I’d be interested to hear what any of you think…

-James Wilson-

2 thoughts on “Are the new “ergo-grips” really bad for your wrists?

  1. Braulio says:

    I haven’t really tried them but they could also be compared to the Catalyst pedals, where they support more of the foot which, among other things, increases comfort. The ergo grips are supposed to do just that, but with the hand instead.

    • bikejames says:

      I would say that they are different in that one is based on how the foot wants to be supported and one is based on a theory about supporting the hands. The rubber wings on the ergo-grips are not based on movement principles and are just filling the gap made between the hands and handlebars by people having their handlebars too wide. Are bars have gotten wider these grips have gotten more popular for helping to fix wrist and elbow pain when the pain is caused by the wide bars. Pressing your palm into the rubber wings is not the same as pressing into a more solid surface (those wings flex some) and so you don’t get the pressure needed to stabilize the wrists and elbows.

      They are a band-aid fix for a problem created by the industry itself. They aren’t fixing the real problem, as evidenced by how many people still have wrist and elbow problems when using them. They have no basis in actual science or movement principles, which makes them more like clipless pedals than the Catalyst Pedal.

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