Where to Hold Mountain Bike Grips to Maintain Proper Posture


Mountain biking is a popular sport. To perform well off-road, mountain bikes have specialized features and increased durability compared to regular bicycles. One major difference between mountain bikes and regular bicycles is the style of handlebars. Mountain bike handlebars are meant to provide the ultimate sense of control over the bike and encourage proper posture while riding. We’ll discuss where to hold mountain bike grips to maintain proper posture in this article.

To hold mountain bike grips properly, place thumbs under the handgrips, and align wrists, hands, and forearms so that they maintain a straight line. Keep the back straight and arms slightly bent. Wrap all fingers comfortably around the handlebar grips and keep hands within easy reach of the cockpit. 

Maintaining good posture on the bike is key to prevent injuries and strain while riding. Following the techniques mentioned above, will lead to good posture and prevent injuries while riding your mountain bike on smooth or rough terrain. 

In the following sections, we will dive deeper into proper posture, technique, and injury prevention while riding your mountain bike. Additionally, we will share some helpful products along the way to improve your mountain biking experience. 

Tips to Hold Mountain Bike Grips

Holding your mountain bike grips properly and maintaining good posture will make your riding safer and more comfortable. Good posture has several health benefits, according to this article from Healthline, including reduced lower back pain, increased energy, minimized tension in your neck and shoulders, improved lung capacity, and better blood circulation and digestion. 

Here are some tips for holding your mountain bike grips the right way while riding.

Tip 1. Keep the Back Straight and Bend Arms Slightly

When riding a mountain bike, you should always maintain a neutral spine position. This will help you feel relaxed, especially when riding your mountain bike off-road.

Hold mountain bike grips with your back straight and arms slightly bent
Keep your back straight and your arms slightly bent when riding a mountain bike. There are six essential posture points to consider: shoulders back, eyes forward, elbows slightly bent, hands properly gripping, back straight, and legs pushing from the knees through the middle of the foot.  Image from Liv-Cycling.

An important technique is to relax your shoulders and lower them away from your ears. Additionally, to ensure your back is straight while mountain biking, engage your core while riding. If your abdominal muscles are not engaged, you are putting too much pressure on your hands and shoulders, leading to pain in your hands, neck, shoulders, and spine. This ebook titled, “Cycling Anatomy” by Shannon Sovndal, MD, discusses correct posture for biking enthusiasts. 

Tip 2. Wrap All FIngers on the Grip

Keeping all of your fingers on the bike handlebar will give you complete control while riding. Along with total control, holding the grips with all your fingers relaxes your hands and reduces the risk of numbness by increasing blood flow. For more information about reducing numbness while riding, read our article on choosing a mountain bike grip to alleviate numbness in your hands. 

Hold mountain bike grips with all fingers on the grip but still close to the cockpit
Keeping all fingers on a bike grip will ensure your safety and reduce the risk of hand numbness. Image from Hobby Biker.

Tip 3. Keep Hands Within Reach of the Cockpit

To have better control of your bike, be sure to maintain proper posture so you can easily reach your bike’s cockpit without straining or overextending while riding. 

Keep hands within close proximity of the cockpit in case you need to stop quickly
Having ideal access to the cockpit of your mountain bike will help you maintain good posture while riding. Image from Worldwide Cyclery.

Another way to have adequate access to the handlebars, grips, stem, and brake levers of your mountain bike is to correctly set up your cockpit. Start with setting up the stems and the spacers underneath them. Then, move on to the handlebars and adjust the bar roll and width so that you are in a neutral position when riding the bike. Next, get grips that work best specifically for you. For more information about choosing grips, Now, you are ready to go.

For detailed instructions on how to set up your cockpit on a mountain bike, check out this YouTube video tutorial by Global Mountain Bike Network.

Tip 4. Place Your Thumbs Under the Grip

Place your thumbs under the grip for better control of your bike and to alleviate pressure on your hands and wrists. This article from The Physician and Sportsmedicine Journal discusses the most common injuries from mountain biking and what adjustments can be made to the bike to avoid these injuries. 

Point your thumb down to minimize strain on the wrist while biking
Always keep your thumbs under your mountain bike grips to maintain good posture and prevent your wrists from excess strain and pressure. Image from Bike Rumor.

Tip 5. Align Wrist and Hand Bones in a Straight Line

Bending your elbows while riding a mountain bike keeps your arms relaxed and able to absorb impact. However, your wrists and hands should never be bent when you ride a bike. Instead, keep a straight line from your elbows through your wrists. This positioning will reduce the risk of wrist injuries.

Wrists should be in line with the elbows and arms
Your wrists should always be in line with your elbows and arms as you hold your mountain bike grips. Image from Bike Fit.

If maintaining alignment from your elbows to your wrists is difficult while riding then consider adjusting your bike’s cockpit. By adjusting the handlebars of your mountain bike, you should be able to maintain a proper hand position when holding the grips.  

How To Avoid Hand Injuries from Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a rigorous sport that requires careful attention to maintain proper posture and ensure safety while riding.  It is a helpful practice to develop good riding techniques, in order to avoid injury and enjoy the riding experience. 

To avoid hand injuries from mountain biking, be sure to maintain natural hand placement, keep your wrists straight, and perform regular wrist strengthening exercises.

Maintain Natural Hand Placement

Proper hand placement on your mountain bike grips can be achieved by keeping the angle between your torso and the upper arm at around 90 degrees. You should also slightly bend your elbows to maximize control over the mountain bike. You can increase the bend in your elbows, depending on the terrain you are riding.

To avoid unnatural hand placement, you should always adjust the stem height and length so that you are comfortable and have control of the bike. Check out this ultimate guide regarding handlebar adjustments and hand positioning by Bike Fit to keep your hands in natural alignment while riding a mountain bike.

Avoid Bent Wrists

Another common cause of hand injuries is bending your wrists while riding a mountain bike. Handlebar rotation is responsible for aligning your wrists as you hold on to the grips. You should rotate your bars upward until your wrists are in a neutral position. You can also avoid bent wrists by placing hoods on the bar and tilt. If the hoods are placed in line with the handlebar, your wrists might bend, leading to hand injuries and pain. Additionally, make sure you adjust your levers and brakes in a way that allows your wrists to be in a neutral position while operating them.

Perform Wrist Strengthening Exercises

Continuously gripping your mountain bike handlebars might lead to weakness and stiffness in your wrists, hands, and fingers. To prevent any severe injuries, you should stretch and strengthen your wrists and hands. Various exercises increase the flexibility of your wrists and minimize the risk of injuries.

To strengthen your wrists, start with a warm-up and gradually move on to other stretching exercises, such as wrist curls, loosen-up stretch, prayer stretch (with steeple), clenched fists, ball squeezing, grip enhancing, and resistance band exercises. Yoga for wrists can also be an ideal exercise for strengthening your wrists.

Explore these two medically reviewed articles by Marjorie Hecht and the Healthline Editorial Team to get some additional tips on stretching and strengthening your wrists and hands.

Wrist exercises can make your hand stronger so you reduce hand numbness while riding
Hand and wrist exercises that include working with a ball can help improve mobility and strength for mountain bike riders. Image Source: loktarz.com.

Reasons for Hand Numbness

Reasons for numbness and weakness in hands while riding a mountain bike include a bike fit issue, improper body position, hand injuries, and health issues affecting your peripheral nerves.

By identifying the reason for your hand numbness, you will be able to find an optimal solution and enjoy your mountain biking experience. Below are additional details about four of the most common causes of hand numbness and weakness while riding a mountain bike.

Reason 1. Bike Fit Issue

Some of the most common bike fit issues include cleat alignment, saddle positioning, and the height and width of cockpit components. These ill-fitted bikes can cause back pain, shoulder pressure, hand injuries, and hand numbness. By fixing any bike fit problems, you will prevent the aforementioned injuries.

Reason 2. Improper Body Position

Your posture while mountain biking is one of the most important factors affecting your comfort and safety. Incorrect body positioning often leads to improper blood circulation in your hands, eventually causing hand weakness. Be mindful of your posture, to avoid strain while riding.

Reason 3. Hand Injuries

If you have injured your hands recently, they can become numb while riding a mountain bike. When injured, no matter how well you hold the bike grips, numbness can be inevitable and the only remedy is rest. Riding your mountain bike while your hands are injured will lead to delayed recovery and potentially more serious complications..

Reason 4. Health Issues Affecting Peripheral Nerves

In some cases, your body posture and bike fit have nothing to do with your hands going numb. There are various health issues that affect your peripheral nerves, causing weakness in your hands. The most common causes of numbness in your hands include brain and nervous system conditions, trauma or overuse injuries, chronic illnesses, infections, treatment side effects, vitamin deficiency, and the consumption of certain drugs.

See the list of possible causes of numbness in hands by following this link to a medically reviewed article on Healthline.

How to Avoid Hand Numbness While Mountain Biking

Hand numbness can affect your grip and control of the mountain bike, and should be addressed immediately to avoid long-term injury or other biking accidents.

To avoid hand numbness while mountain biking try wearing gloves, get a proper bike fitting consultation, buy specialized mountain bike grips for numbness, and go for a medical consultation to rule out any underlying conditions that could cause hand numbness.

Tip 1. Wear Gloves

To prevent the temporary loss of sensation in hands, mountain bikers typically use specialized biker gloves that are designed to reduce the risks of numbness. The majority of these gloves have pads near the palm that minimize the friction and vibration while riding. Biker gloves for hand numbness are available on Amazon for around $8.

Tip 2. Request a Bike Fitting

When purchasing a mountain bike, you should always ask for a basic bike fit consultation to ensure that the bike size is suitable for you. Having a bike that is properly fitted to your body will maximize performance and comfort during your ride. Avid mountain bikers will even choose to get a professional bike fitting to make sure their posture and performance is optimized. For more information about the various mountain bike sizes, read our mountain bike sizing tips and tricks article.  

This YouTube video by Global Triathlon Network offers you a complete guide on how to get a professional bike fit and prevent your hands from going numb.

Tip 3. Get Specialized Mountain Bike Grips for Numbness

Another way to avoid numbness in the hands is to use specialized mountain bike grips. Proper MTB grips reduce the severity of jarring impacts and vibrations bikers experience while riding off-road. In other words, mountain bike grips for numbness offer you relatively soft and stable handlebars. Some of the best grip options for numbness include lock-on grips, push-on grips, and ergonomic grips. Our step-by-step guide to choosing mountain bike grips covers the various types of grips available as well as their sizes. 

You can purchase ergonomic mountain bike grips on Amazon for approximately $30-55.  

Tip 4. Book a Medical Consultation

If you have already had your bike fitted and purchased specialized gloves and grips for numbness, but you still feel weakness in your hands, you should consult a health professional. Since a variety of health conditions cause hand numbness, you should seek advice from a doctor to determine the root cause. Riding with numbness in your hands can be dangerous but with a doctor’s consultation it can be alleviated.

Reasons for Sweaty Hands

Sweaty hands can cause your hands to slip when riding, and affect your control of the bike. Determining the cause of your sweaty hands, will aid you in solving the issue and ensuring you enjoy your biking experience.

Reasons for sweaty hands include the regulation of body temperature, increased level of anxiety, and health conditions which could be causing your hands to sweat.

Reason 1. Your Body Tries to Regulate Body Temperature

Sweating is natural when doing any form of exercise. If you are riding your mountain bike in hot weather, your hands will probably start to sweat. This is because your body regulates  its body temperature by excreting sweat. The sweat produced when we are hot comes from the eccrine glands and is primarily composed of water and salt. Avoid warm weather riding if your hand sweat makes you too uncomfortable.

Reason 2. You Are Stressed, Anxious, or Scared

Sweaty hands can also be caused by anxiety.  This sweat is produced by the apocrine glands and consists of proteins, fat, and bacteria on our skin. Try to stay calm to prevent your hands from sweating.

Reason 3. You Have a Health Condition Causing Your Hands Sweat

Finally, sweaty hands are also caused by various health conditions, such as diabetes, menopause, low blood sugar, cardiovascular ailments, overactive thyroid, nervous system conditions and infections.If you are unsure of the root cause of your hand sweat, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a professional diagnosis.

How to Choose a Mountain Bike Grip for Sweaty Hands

Having sweaty hands doesn’t have to mean compromised grip and safety when you’re mountain biking because there are several options available to improve your grasp on the handlebars regardless of whether or not your hands are slippery. 

To choose a mountain bike grip for sweaty hands, first try non-slip materials. Gloves are also helpful while riding, but make sure they are thicker than traditional gloves. Additionally, you can buy ergonomic grips rather than lock-on or slip-on grips.

Tip 1. Choose Non-Slip Grip Materials to Reduce Pressure

Bikers who struggle with hand sweat prefer bike grips made from non-slip materials like silicone or leather. These materials wick away moisture unlike plastic or rubber while also providing a strong grip that reduces the amount of pressure you need to exert to hold on to the handlebar. 

Non-slip mountain bike grips for sweaty hands are available for about $27.

Tip 2. Buy Thicker Gloves That Are Easier to Wrap Around a Handlebar

You might think that this is counter-intuitive, but if your hands sweat while biking you should consider biking gloves that are thicker. Thicker gloves offer more surface area than standard gloves, and extra cushioning and absorption which are all great features for someone who suffers from excessive hand sweat. They also make it easier to hold on to the grip since you don’t need to clamp down as hard on your handlebar. 

These 5mm padded biking  gloves offer a breathable and anti-slip pad that will help maintain good handlebar grip for someone with sweaty hands. 

Tip 3. Buy Ergonomic Grips Instead of Lock-On or Slip-On Grips

Lastly, selecting the right style of bike grips will ensure you have a non-slip surface to hold while biking. Although lock-on and push-on bike grips are fine, ergonomic bike grips are more helpful when your hands get sweaty.

Non-slip ergonomic bike grips made of microfiber weather are available on Amazon for $20, and are made out of a non-slip microfiber leather to ensure proper handling while riding. 

For information on how to install ergonomic and other types of grips, read our step-by-step guide on mountain bike grip installation

Breathable biking gloves can reduce vibration in your wrists and increase grip
Biking gloves with extra padding and breathable fabric help to reduce excess moisture caused by sweaty hands while riding. Image source: Amazon.

Summary Of Suggested Mountain Bike Accessories For Riders With Sweaty Hands

Item Features/Benefits Product Price
Non-slip Handlebar Grips Textured surface for superior grip when riding. 
Wider grooves provide more tack in wet conditions.
Also the grooves are designed to remove sweat through the microchannels. 
Single Lock-on Mountain Bike Grips, Bicycle Handlebar Locking Grips, Non-Slip MTB Handle Grips ~$30
Sweat Resistant MTB Gloves Unique GRIPP technology ensures exceptional control and handling of your mountain bike in both wet and dry conditions. 
Better grip means that you’ll spend less energy gripping. This translates to less stress and sweat. 
Grippp Light SF Leather Bike Gloves, Short Finger, Breathable, Ultra Lightweight, Sweat, Water and Abrasion Resistant, Ergonomic, Durable, MTB, Road, Mountain, Cycling, Swiss Technology ~$35
Ergonomic Mountain Bike Grips The ergonomic design helps alleviate hand pain and numb fingers, which eliminates stress on the rider’s hands, and reduces excess sweating.   Ergon - GP1 Ergonomic Lock-on Bicycle Handlebar Grips | Regular, Gripshift for  Mountain Bikes ~$30-$50

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