Why Do My Arms Hurt After Cycling: 7 Causes & 5 Prevention

What Causes Arm Pain After Cycling

Insufficient saddle lay-back shifts your center of gravity forward, increasing pressure on your arms and hands. Long bike riders may experience elbow and hand pain as they try to compensate. Over-gripping can lead to overuse injuries or compression of the ulnar nerve because of poor grip placement on the handlebars.

Excessive tilting of the wrist causes pain in the arms. This can occur because of poor bike fit, riding in the same position for an extended period, or gripping the handlebars too tightly.

In this blog post, we will explore the causes and prevention methods of arm pain after cycling.

Why do my Arms Hurt After Cycling: 7 Causes

What causes my arms to ache after cycling

Cycling can lead to body aches and pains. Arm pain is one common complaint among cyclists, and several factors, including posture, handlebar position, bike fit, gear selection, terrain, and cycling duration, can cause it. Let’s inspect these factors and how they affect arm muscles and joints.


If your back is hunched, your arms will bear much of the weight of your upper body, which may lead to fatigue and soreness in your shoulders, neck, and arms.

  • Forward Head Posture: A forward head position causes the shoulders to round forward. An upper back hunch puts pressure on the neck, shoulders, and arms.
  • Slouched Back Posture: Slouched backs pressure the lower spine and core muscles, resulting in weak upper bodies. Leaning heavily on the handlebars can cause wrist pain and fatigue for the cyclist.

Handlebar Position

While cycling, the position of the handlebars can significantly affect arm pain. Too high or too low handlebars can strain the arms and shoulders, causing pain and discomfort. The cyclist should maintain a relaxed and comfortable grip on the handlebars with minimal arm strain when using a proper handlebar position.

Improper Bike fit

Poorly fitted bikes can cause many problems, including arm pain. If your bike’s setup needs to be corrected, it can put too much weight on your arms or cause them to stretch too far out of alignment with your body.

Poor Gear Selection

Cycling with the wrong gears also results in arm pain. You can suffer from soreness and pain later on when you ride in a gear that is too high. Too low a gear can also be problematic, as it causes excessive strain on your legs, resulting in an undue reliance on your arms.

Overuse of Arm Muscles

When cycling, your legs take on most of the load, but your arms play an essential role in maintaining balance and distributing body weight. Overworking your arm muscles can cause discomfort or pain if you grip or pull the handlebars too tightly.


The terrain you cycle on can also affect how much work your arms must do. A bumpy ride can require upper-body control and balance to maintain balance on rough or uneven surfaces.

Duration of cycling

As you ride longer, the continuous exertion can gradually lead to fatigue in your arms. Extensive holding of a position can cause your arms and shoulders to feel stiff, making the overall experience uncomfortable and potentially affecting your performance on the bike.

It’s essential to be aware of these effects and take measures to ease discomfort, such as incorporating stretching exercises or adjusting your position periodically during your rides.

Arm Pain After Cycling: 5 Prevention

While it’s normal to experience discomfort, persistent arm pain and numbness can be concerning. Prioritize proper bike fitting, ideal handlebar positions, good gear selection, regular stretching, massage, and strength training exercises for arm muscles. Stay hydrated and nourished during cycling activities.

Bike Fitting and Adjustments

Cycling can be uncomfortable and painful if your bike is not fitted and adjusted correctly. An incorrect bike fit can lead to discomfort and pain in the arm muscles and nerves. To ensure proper bike fitting and change, follow these steps:

  • Test out different handlebar shapes and sizes to find the most comfortable.
  • Adjust your seat height for comfortable sitting.
  • Reduce wrist and hand pressure by adjusting your bike fit.
  • You can reduce hand pressure by wearing padded gloves or using handlebar tape.
  • Weight distribution can be ensured by setting the saddle’s fore-and-aft positions.
  • Keep your grip on the handlebars naturally to avoid excessive arm strain.

Ideal Handlebar Positions and Postures

Handlebar position is another crucial factor in preventing arm pain while cycling. Your handlebars should be positioned so that your wrists are straight and natural. Maintaining proper bike posture will also help keep arm muscles and nerves well-rested. Here are some tips for ideal handlebar positions and posture:

  • Relax your elbows and keep them slightly bent.
  • Maintain a relaxed posture with your shoulders rolled back.
  • Adjust the handlebar height and position to reach the controls comfortably and naturally.

Proper Gear Selection

Choosing the right gear

Cycling gear selection is crucial in preventing injury to the arm. Too high a gear can stress the arm muscles and nerves unnecessarily. Here are some tips for proper gear selection:

  • It is best to use the small or middle front chaining and more significant rear cog when riding uphill or into a headwind.
  • Downhill, use the bigger front chaining and a range of smaller rear cogs.
  • Avoid using gear that is too high for your fitness level and cycling goals.

Regular Exercises

Exercises that stretch, massage, and strengthen arm muscles can prevent pain and discomfort during cycling. Consider these routines:

  • After you’ve cycled, try your hands and wrists.
  • Stretch your triceps.
  • Massaging your forearms.
  • Exercises that strengthen the arms, such as bicep curls and tricep extensions.

Adequate Hydration and Nutrition

The key to preventing arm pain and discomfort is to stay hydrated and nourished before, during, and after cycling activities. Fatigue and cramping can be caused by dehydration and poor nutrition, which stress the nerves and muscles in the arms. Some tips for staying hydrated and nourished:

  • To replenish electrolytes and energy, consume a sports drink or snack.
  • Support muscle recovery and function by eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients.


It can prevent arm pain and numbness through proper bike fitting and adjustments, ideal handlebar positions and posture, valid equipment selection, stretching, massage, strengthening exercises for arm muscles, and adequate nutrition and hydration during cycling.

Cycling techniques that maximize benefits while minimizing injury risk are the key to avoiding arm pain. To prevent further injury, seek medical attention if you experience persistent arm pain.


Cyclists who aspire to excel in sprints prioritize developing muscular arms, recognizing the advantages of upper body strength in sprinting. They strive for lean, defined muscles without hypertrophy and maintain a body fat percentage of merely 4-5%. This lean physique allows them to optimize their climbing performance, as carrying excess body fat would impede their speed on mountainous terrains.

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