Why we should wear gloves when riding

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Have your hands ever felt numb, tingly or weak after a ride? If you answered YES, you’re probably overusing your hands. In fact, with the right movement and the right equipments, we can avoid some of cycling injuries.

In the same way that basketball shoes were clearly delineated from the concept of sports shoes in the USA a hundred years ago, cycling gloves as a sub-division of cycling equipment specialised in products that have led riders to treat them as important as cycling clothing and cycling helmets.

Riding gloves are special gloves for cyclists and, depending on the type of bike, can be divided into mountain riding gloves, road riding gloves and speed riding gloves. In addition there are some brands that have launched gloves specifically designed for extreme sports, both in terms of physical safety and in terms of cycling comfort, which is such a necessity.

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Depending on the season, there are half-finger and full-finger gloves. The palm area is thickened and the material used for the palm pads varies depending on positioning and adaptation, for example the road bike palm pads are significantly thinner than those of mountain riding gloves.

If you have flat handlebars and do not wear professional gloves to grip the flat handlebars, the pressure will be transmitted directly to the median nerve that controls the thumb, index finger, middle finger and part of the ring finger, causing numbness, pain and weakness in the fingers, a condition known medically as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Long-term compression of the median nerve can lead to loss of sensation in the thumb, index finger and middle finger, muscle atrophy and nerve pain in the hand radiating to the shoulder and elbow joints.

If you use curved handlebars, hold them without professional riding gloves or change your hand position, you can compress and over-extend the ulnar nerve, causing ulnar neuropathy.

The ulnar nerve controls the ring finger and little finger. Short-term compression will cause paralysis and weakness in the ring finger or little finger; long-term compression will cause the ring finger and little finger to lose consciousness and be unable to perform normal finger curls, especially in the little finger.

The wrist joint is under tension as long as the cyclist is on a sports bike. This puts the wrist joint under permanent and abnormal tension due to the different seating position and grip of the rider, which has a lifelong negative impact on the nerves and tendons.

The special function of the cycling glove is to minimise the pressure on the wrist joint. If you compare it with a normal glove laid flat with the back side down, you will see that the front side is not flat but upturned, which is exactly the same as the cyclist’s grip.

This shows that the protection of the hands is second only to the brain, as long as the two wheel movements are held by the hands. In the event of a sudden accident during exercise, it effectively prevents bruising and cutting of the hands when they land on the ground.

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Functions of riding gloves

Most riders’ perception of cycling gloves is at the level of their own function, but in fact, in the correct perception, cycling gloves have two aspects of active and passive protection.

  1. Active protection

Anti-fall protection. When rolling over, riders often touch the ground with the palm of their hand first in order to land their body slowly.

Shock absorbing function. The palm pads are thickened to reduce the impact on the hands.

Anti-slip function. The palm and the back of the fingers generally have drip adhesive, and some use microfibre cloth with a certain degree of damping, which can both play a non-slip function.

  1. Passive protection

Many brands today have added reflective strips/reflective coating to their gloves, which can effectively alert the other party when a car is coming from the opposite direction or from the side when riding at night.

  1. Moisture wicking

Wicking, breathability and anti-slip are complementary to each other. When the bike is in high speed, the rider’s control of the bike depends largely on his hands.

Wiping sweat is one of the most used functions of gloves, and a glove that is both inside and outside should be 3D cut, ergonomic and have many functions in one, based on a comfortable fit.

With the development of cycling gloves, riders can choose from a wide range of cycling gloves that will keep their hands comfortable on flat roads in the city, as well as on uneven roads in the countryside.

Need more information? Talk with Bessteven!