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Grips for Thumb Arthritis

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Grips for Thumb Arthritis

Old 04-25-17, 10:07 PM
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Nomad2
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Grips for Thumb Arthritis

Hi,
I have an emerging issue with arthritis in my thumbs which is affecting me (on the left hand particularly) with holding the grip and gear changes. Had only been a niggle until I went for a week's mountain biking in Canberra with the family. There are a few issues at play here. One is that I am gripping the handlebars too tightly generally and I'm trying to address this. The second is that I have poor core strength and I need to address that as best I can.

I have only standard grips on my Merida Big 7 XT (2014) which need replacing anyway. I was looking at ergo grips, and was wondering about the Bontrager inForm Satellite City Grip. Anyone had any experience with these or any other alternative suggestions?

I'm hoping to delay dealing with the shifters for now. The issue with these is exacerbated by the wider handlebars mtbs have. This means the angle I have to bend back my thumb is greater. I could try moving the shifters in a little but I'm not sure that's a good idea. I have no problems at all with the drop bars on my road/touring bike at the moment, even when the thumb is irritated.
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Old 04-25-17, 10:19 PM
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I have the Ergon version of those. They work well, but more from a wrist support perspective. There's also things like TOGS (thumb over grips: https://togs.com/ ), those might help. I don't have arthritis so I can't comment on what is likely to work for you.

I wouldn't hesitate to at least try adjusting the angle or spacing of the shifters. That's free and only take a minute or two. Many bikes come with the shifters and brake levers pointed too far down. You want them to basically be inline with your arms/wrist when in your normal riding position. There's also nothing wrong with cutting the bars down by 5-10mm on each side. Adjust the grips and shifters, test and then cut.
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Old 04-25-17, 10:31 PM
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First of all, BTID thumb strain was common for mtn bikers using shifters that were unreasonably stiff. That problem is what led to the lighter action, more ergonomic levers we see today.

Odds are that your thumb will recover, unless there's an underlying issue like rheumatic arthritis.

Besides learning to relax and not use a death grip when riding, you might invest a few dollars in a grip exerciser of the type used by tennis players. If all else fails, the remedy might be to (gasp) switch to twist shifters. If this is too declassee for you, you might leave the original shifters in place as chamouflage.
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Old 04-26-17, 07:48 AM
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Get a bar with some more sweep, curved back to you. Easier on the wrists too.
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Old 04-26-17, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
I have the Ergon version of those. They work well, but more from a wrist support perspective. There's also things like TOGS (thumb over grips: https://togs.com/ ), those might help. I don't have arthritis so I can't comment on what is likely to work for you.

I wouldn't hesitate to at least try adjusting the angle or spacing of the shifters. That's free and only take a minute or two. Many bikes come with the shifters and brake levers pointed too far down. You want them to basically be inline with your arms/wrist when in your normal riding position. There's also nothing wrong with cutting the bars down by 5-10mm on each side. Adjust the grips and shifters, test and then cut.
Thanks for the info. Will try making some adjustments. The TOGS look interesting.
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Old 04-26-17, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
First of all, BTID thumb strain was common for mtn bikers using shifters that were unreasonably stiff. That problem is what led to the lighter action, more ergonomic levers we see today.

Odds are that your thumb will recover, unless there's an underlying issue like rheumatic arthritis.

Besides learning to relax and not use a death grip when riding, you might invest a few dollars in a grip exerciser of the type used by tennis players. If all else fails, the remedy might be to (gasp) switch to twist shifters. If this is too declassee for you, you might leave the original shifters in place as chamouflage.
Interesting perspective. I must say the action of my XT levers is not noticeably easier than the old 1998 Acera ones I had on my old bike. Mainly for the front. That one is tougher to move and longer travel required to make the change. I would consider getting grip shifters if I could get ones to match my 10 speed shimano gearing. I'll try making some adjustments first and go from there. Thanks!
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Old 04-26-17, 03:41 PM
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Basil joint arthritis?
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Old 04-26-17, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
Interesting perspective. I must say the action of my XT levers is not noticeably easier than the old 1998 Acera ones I had on my old bike. Mainly for the front. That one is tougher to move and longer travel required to make the change. .....
My BITD may be farther back than yours, but thumb strain from stiff shifters is or was common. Like yours, the left lever on my old mtb turned commuter is stiffer than the right, because pre-hyperglide front shifting took a decent amount of force.

I've strained the thumb a number of times forcing shifts, and for a few weeks after I'd be careful about how I used that thumb, and it would always recover nicely (until next time).

In your shoes, I'd rest the thumb, and try to determine whether it's a chronic issue like arthritis or more by way of an in jury that will heal if given a chance.

One other thing that may help (though I don't think it can be done with index left) is to adjust cable length so working the lever travel is in a better place for my grip. Years ago, there was even one made where the lever itself could be rotated on the center post so it was in the right place for the rider.

FWIW Sram makes (or used to) both friction and index twist grips to match Shimano index FD. Or you might look at one of the "rapid fire" systems that use one lever for up, and one for down.
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Old 04-26-17, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bargeon View Post
Basil joint arthritis?
That's correct, well, Basal. Apparently the X-ray confirmed it but my GP said he had seen many worse examples in X-rays of people with no symptoms of it....It has been apparent to some extent in both hands) since the middle of last year, but up until a few weeks ago had not affected me when riding.
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Old 04-26-17, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
That's correct, well, Basal. Apparently the X-ray confirmed it but my GP said he had seen many worse examples in X-rays of people with no symptoms of it....It has been apparent to some extent in both hands) since the middle of last year, but up until a few weeks ago had not affected me when riding.
Errr, Basal, right. Hate it when I do that.
Hurts when I shift. Had to give up the bass. The only thing that doesn't hurt is thumbing my nose
Wish I had encouraging news. My bone guy basically said just wait till it's bad enough and we'll operate
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Old 04-26-17, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
FWIW Sram makes (or used to) both friction and index twist grips to match Shimano index FD. Or you might look at one of the "rapid fire" systems that use one lever for up, and one for down.
For the front anything will work sram shimano doesn't matter. My front X0 9 speed Sram gripshifter shifted a 10 speed Shimano FD for 3 years just fine. While the shifter has a 1-2-3 on it it really has 10 or so positions so you can trim the FD. You can pick up a X9 left shifter for $25 or so.

Grip shifters have a bad rap because the vast majority that people get to try are on lowend crap bikes with lowend crap shifters.
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Old 04-28-17, 06:45 AM
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Try the silicone grips by ESI. I ride with rigid forks and enjoy the extra cushion of the ESI's.
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Old 04-28-17, 02:15 PM
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I have RA in my left thumb (as well as other locations). I could hardly shift the chainrings on my old Trek MTB. It all got bad enough a few years ago that I started seeing a rhumatoligist who put me on some med that has it all under control. I got to her in time to prevent the swollen knuckle look.
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Old 04-28-17, 05:41 PM
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The only thing that helped me was swept back (more) bars. Not only did the improved angle relieve some pain but also I no longer use a death grip due to the way I hold the bars now. See if your local shop will let you try some out.
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Old 05-09-17, 01:05 PM
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I have a similar problem with my right thumb. I ride with my thumbs over the grip unless dealing with roots, ruts, rocks etc. Shifting isn't a problem if I can plan it and have my thumb at just the right angle. Nobody makes Shimano compatible twist-shifters past 8s and I like my drivetrain so haven't made a jump. Would change right now if it didn't also mean replacing the Ders and costing a fortune.
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Old 05-09-17, 01:36 PM
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Do you have a clutch on your RD/Rear Mech like with Shimano? If so, you might want to turn it to the off position and it'll shift easier. To keep the chain tension tight with it off, shorten it a link or so, so that you can still go big/big w/o straining the RD's spring/angle.
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