Why Do My Wrists Hurt When Riding a Dirt Bike? (And How To Reduce Pain)

Let’s face it; Motocross is physically taxing. Bumps and bruises are part of the territory. But when it comes to experiencing wrist pain or numbness, it’s essential to understand why your wrists hurt when riding a dirt bike, and how you can reduce the pain.

Your wrists can hurt when riding a dirt bike as a result of improper riding techniques, fatigue, and stress. However, it may be a sign of more severe problems. If you’re experiencing wrist pain when riding a dirt bike, try adjusting your riding position and relaxing your grip.

You’ll need to determine the underlying cause of your wrist pain before resolving the issue. Because riding is a very physical sport, general soreness and muscle fatigue are common problems. Below, we’ll go through everything you need to know about wrist pain from riding a dirt bike.

What Causes Wrist Pain When Riding A Dirt Bike?

The human wrist is complicated machinery. An intricate combination of tendons, bones, arteries, and muscles gives us the ability to open doors and write our names. Without hands, we couldn’t play guitar or ride dirt bikes. Unfortunately, repetitive motions and stress can damage our wrists, causing discomfort, pain, and numbness.

The muscles in your arm and wrists become inflamed when they’re overused. When you’re riding a dirt bike, you’re keeping your arms and wrists in roughly the same position for extended periods of time, while also putting them through some rigorous movement and vibration. Over the course of a long ride, this can easily lead to wrist pain.

Muscle pain caused by grueling rides is normal and can be cured with a pack of ice and a day of rest. However, numbness and tingling in the wrist can be a sign of trouble, especially if these issues persist. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly can cause wrist pain when riding a dirt bike, before we discuss how you can reduce it.

Common Causes Of Dirt Bike Wrist Pain

Riding dirt bikes can be strenuous. It’s not uncommon for riders to experience painful injuries. Riders of all skill levels need to prioritize safety above all else. Whatever your goal, it will be much harder to achieve if you get hurt! Wrist pain is one of the easiest ways to put you out of action for a while, but what actually causes it?


Vibrations caused by operating any kind of machinery can cause interruptions in blood flow and lead to numbness and possibly nerve damage. You can reduce the pain caused by vibrating handlebars by installing padded grips. Also, remember always to wear riding gloves and other riding gear.

It’s essential to locate problems with the bike that may be causing an unnecessary amount of vibration or shaking as you ride. A shaking dirt bike can result from old brake pads or worn bearings. You must fix these issues before riding your bike again.

Paying attention to your dirt bike’s condition isn’t just necessary for maintaining its performance. Maintenance also prevents injuries and ensures that you and your bike stay in good shape.

Gripping Too Tightly

Seasoned dirt bike riders will know to avoid “death grip” caused by gripping the handlebars too tightly. Gripping the handlebars too tightly will cause your hands to seize up, making it difficult to control your dirt bike. Hand fatigue is painful and dangerous, so it’s essential to avoid an overly tight grip.

Learn to use your legs to stabilize. Your legs are much stronger than your arms. Adjusting the size of your grips to match your hands can also help reduce pain. Grips that are too large will be difficult to hold. Twisting grips that are too big will cause cramping, making it harder to stay focused on the track.

Strained Wrists

Long rides test our stamina, focus, and physical endurance. The strain caused by navigating complex tracks or arduous trails will take its toll eventually. Even for those in excellent physical condition, riding can be a challenge.

Our bodies can only take so much. It’s essential to recognize your physical limits and avoid pushing yourself too far. Straining your wrists with improper riding techniques, overly demanding rides, or refusing to take a break will only lead to more trouble later on.

If you find that operating a dirt bike causes unnecessary pain, you might need to strengthen your hands and body with an exercise routine. Improving your physical fitness can translate into improved performance on the track.

Nerve Damage

Numbness in your hands, wrists, and arms can be a sign of nerve damage or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Commonly associated with keyboards and computers, CTS affects everyone, from construction workers to nurses. Vibration and the strain caused by operating a dirt bike can lead to carpal tunnel.

Significant symptoms of CTS include numbness and tingling in the hands, wrists, fingers, and arms. Riders often feel these symptoms in the right hand, responsible for operating the throttle. Ignoring these symptoms may lead to long-term damage and loss of coordination.

Injuries From Accidents

Wrist injuries are also common after nasty falls. An outstretched arm can easily lead to a fractured bone. A broken or fractured wrist will cause swelling and be extremely painful. You’ll need a visit a doctor and get a few x-rays to fix the break, and you won’t be able to ride for a while.

You can avoid sustaining injuries and broken bones by always wearing protective gear and keeping your hands positioned correctly. Also, take time to familiarize yourself with the course or trail that you’re riding. Doing so will help you avoid surprises that may lead to an accident!

So, now that you know the causes of wrist pain when riding your dirt bike, how can you reduce it?

5 Ways To Reduce Wrist Pain While Riding A Dirt Bike

1. Relax Your Grip

Keeping a loose grip is vital to having a proper riding technique. A rider’s body weight should be supported by their legs and back, leaving the arms to focus on steering and synchronizing with the bike. Your wrist and arms should be straight to reduce stress from going over rocks or other bumpy terrains.

You should be able to hold your body in a comfortable position without needing to lean on the handlebars for support. Maintaining a relaxed position is the key to reducing normal wrist pain and arm fatigue. Staying comfortable is especially important on long rides where repetitive motions can cause undue stress on your wrists, making it harder to work the brakes and clutch.

Improper posture and a tight grip can cause pain in the arms, hands, back, and chest. Wrists can become strained from excessive pressure. Learning to use your legs for balance and strengthening your core will eliminate the need to rely on your grip for control, therefore reducing wrist pain.

2. Wear The Right Gear

To enjoy top performance and a pain-free ride, you’ll need the right gear. Standard Motocross gear includes:

  • A helmet
  • Gloves
  • Pants
  • Jersey
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Body armor or a chest protector

These items enhance your ride while protecting your body. Riding gloves, for example, can improve your grip, so you can keep your hands looser while also offering protection in case of a fall. To increase your protection, you can add braces to your gear. Many riders wear knee, elbow, and/or wrist braces for impact protection and to prevent hyper-extension.

A wrist brace stabilizes and supports the wrist firmly to help protect against injury during accidents. However, wrist braces are designed to allow for mobility, so you don’t lose the flexibility of your hand during your ride.

3. Change Your Riding Position

Improper positioning on the bike can lead to various issues, including numbness and wrist pain. Often, inexperienced riders will rely on their arms to hold their weight, creating unnecessary amounts of strain on their hands and wrists.

Riders should practice proper riding techniques and posture to avoid pain and fatigue. Adopting the appropriate riding position gives riders more control over their bike. For example, sitting too far back on the bike will make it unbalanced and difficult to control. Riders should keep a relaxed upper body, relying on their legs for support.

The techniques below will reduce pain and increase your riding stamina:

  • Sit forward on the seat
  • Keep your feet up and your toes on the pegs
  • Hug the bike with your legs and relax your upper body
  • Keep your hands and arms loose
  • Hold your arm straight with your elbows out
  • Keep your eyes on the track

4. Adjust The Handlebars

If your handlebars aren’t in the right location, you’ll need to bend your wrist more. So, it’s crucial that riders adjust their handlebars so that riding is comfortable.

If your handlebars are too high up, you’ll need to raise your elbows. Handlebars that are too low will force you to bend your wrist too much. You should also adjust your levers so that they are easy to grab. Having the levers even with the middle of the grip and tilted slightly downward is best. It’s vital that you can easily reach the brakes at all times.

5. Exercise Regularly

Stamina and flexibility are both keys to staying in shape and avoiding injury while riding your dirt bike. Riders should exercise and stretch regularly to promote overall strength and endurance. Stretching also works well to treat wrist pain specifically. Riders can strengthen their wrists to prevent injuries or to manage existing wrist pain.

If you experience soreness and hand pain while riding, you may need to strengthen the muscles in your hands and forearms. A few exercises a day can help you build strength and flexibility. Wrist exercises and stretches are typically easy to perform, require no accessories, and don’t take much time out of your day. In fact, you can do many wrist exercises from the comfort of your couch!

When Should You See A Doctor About Wrist Pain?

It’s normal to experience some discomfort after a long or strenuous ride on your dirt bike. It’s a physical sport, and many riders have muscle fatigue and soreness after an intense session. However, pain that lingers long after your ride or interferes with everyday activities isn’t normal and typically requires medical attention.

Numbness also warrants a visit to the doctor. If your fingers, hands, or wrists go numb while riding, you should schedule an appointment with your physician for an evaluation. Enduring pain and numbness can signify a severe underlying issue that needs treatment, like tendonitis, a cyst, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Receiving an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment is vital if you want to preserve the performance of your wrist. Continuing to stress your wrist when injured can lead to permanent damage.

How To Know If Your Wrist Pain Is Caused By CTS

Wrist pain has a number of potential origins, and to ensure you get the correct diagnosis, you’ll need to see a doctor. That said, repetitive movements, like operating a dirt bike and regular exposure to vibrations, are risk factors for developing CTS, so it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for a dirt bike rider to receive a CTS diagnosis.

Located in your wrist, the carpal tunnel is a small pathway that the median nerve runs through.The median nerve relays messages from the brain to the hand, controlling movement and sensations in the fingers. When you have CTS, the median nerve gets compressed, either by swelling or the angle of the wrist, leading to numbness and/or pain.

If you have one or more of the below symptoms, your wrist pain may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers, hand, or wrist area
  • A feeling of electric shock
  • Weakness in your hand
  • The need to “shake out” wrist or hand pain

The weakness in your hand may make gripping the handlebars and picking up everyday objects, like your coffee cup, difficult. It’s not uncommon for cases of CTS to have more than one origin, so if you’re experiencing the above symptoms, dirt bike riding may not be the sole cause of your wrist pain. Other factors, like computer use or the operation of power tools, may be the main cause.

Final Thoughts

Your wrists can hurt when riding a dirt bike for a variety of reasons, including injury, repetitive stress, excessive vibrations, and from gripping the handlebars too tightly. Reducing wrist pain can often be as simple as putting a pack of ice on it, but more severe cases require medical attention.