Question: I’ve developed tendinitis in my elbows, I think from riding my road bike about 5,000 miles per year. Can you suggest any changes in riding position or equipment that might help? — Chuck T.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I’ve had the same condition, Chuck — a sort of “tennis elbow” but from riding rather than swinging a racket. It can quickly become chronic and it heals slowly.
The condition usually develops from a combination of factors:
- Handlebar too low in relation to the saddle. This makes you lean forward and put too much weight on your hands and arms. The result is an overuse injury in the tendons that stabilize your elbows, the joints that are doing all the work in this situation. Raise the bar so it’s nearly even with the saddle to see if that helps. You can always lower it again.
- Saddle tilted down at the nose. This makes you slide forward and resist by pushing back with the arms, creating the same overuse problem as a low handlebar.
- Not moving hands frequently. Don’t always ride with your hands in one location. Move them every couple of minutes from the brake lever hoods to the handlebar tops to the drops. Doing so changes the stress on elbows and overuse injuries can’t get started as easily.
- A rigid upper body. A death grip on the handlebar is a sure-fire way to stress tendons and cause an overuse injury. Always ride with elbows loose and slightly flexed.
If any of these situations apply to you, I’ll bet correcting them will go a long way toward healing your tendinitis.