One of the major issues with top level sport is the frequency and volume of training. Competition may take up a small percentage of the year, but training is unrelenting, with many athletes training daily (or in some cases, multiple times per day).
One of the unifying activities that athletes do is weightlifting, which is an activity that can exasperate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome due to the frequent pressure on the wrists and the extreme flexion and extension of the joint. Research shows that the frequent, high-load repetitions in weightlifting can cause an increase is pressure on the median nerve, impacting the conductivity of the nerve itself and potentially increasing the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome .
The issue isn’t limited to weightlifting either – there’s a clear link between hand neuropathy and cycling, with ‘cyclist’s palsy’ a known condition. Cyclist’s palsy occurs when pressure applied to the hand via gripping the handlebars on the bike traps the ulnar nerve. When studied, there is a clear link between distance cycling and motor latency in the nerves – this means it takes longer for signals to travel down the nerves .
The same study also noticed an worsening of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome after cycling and linked long distance cycling to bringing about the condition in some cyclists.
Another study assessed the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome in wheelchair based athletes, given they use their hands for locomotion, therefore increase the pressure and demands on the wrist joints on a daily basis. The sample size was 72 athletes or 144 hands and carpal tunnel syndrome was found in 8% of the wheelchair based athletes . To give these findings some context, the prevalence in the general population was found to be 2.9% across 2466 responders (4932 hands).