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Thread: Hands Numbing

  1. #1
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    Hands Numbing

    I have been having trouble with my hands going numb about thirty minutes into my ride. I was wondering if there is something i could be doing to help with this.

    Also I was considering Aerobars to shift my weight forward and balance it between the wheels while being more comfortable. Am I right will the Aerobars be more comfortable or less so? I have seen various things about only for high performance and not for group rides. I don't ride in groups so that is not an issue. My primary concern is that I am comfortable during rides.

    Any help I could get would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    What bike do you ride?

    Try relaxing your grip on your bars.
    Move your hands to different positions.

    Gloves without pads can help.
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  3. #3
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Hands going numb is most often a symptom of too much pressure on the hands. There's a few reasons why that could be happening...

    - Bars too far forward
    - Bars too low
    - Saddle too far back
    - Bike's just too big
    - Weak core muscles

    Assuming that your bike isn't too big, and that you're lined up mostly proper over the pedals, that leaves bar positioning and core strength. Raising your handlebar or shortening your stem will bring your center-of-mass backwards and put more weight over your bumside, helping to reduce pressure on your hands. A good rule for a starting position is to have your saddle and your handlebars level with each other and make adjustments from there.
    Core strength allows you to use muscles other than your shoulders/arms/hands to hold your torso up while riding. Balancing that strength around the body means less fatigue for those forward prop points. Exercise ball sit-ups, planks, and side planks are my usual routine. Torso raises (back extensions) are a good one if you have a bench to do them properly.

    You might also look at your gloves and bar tape, as 10 Wheels suggested. Too much padding can compress the soft tissues and deaden the nerves or restrict blood flow.

    I'd advise against aerobars at this point in the game. Not for any of my usual reasons (and I have many), but more for the fact that you're having problems at only 30 minutes. Aerobars would be the equivalent of turning up the radio so you don't hear a squeaky fan belt: Masking the problem won't make it go away. You need to determine the root cause of your hand numbness in such a short amount of time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Hands going numb is most often a symptom of too much pressure on the hands. There's a few reasons why that could be happening...

    - Bars too far forward
    - Bars too low
    - Saddle too far back
    - Bike's just too big
    - Weak core muscles

    Assuming that your bike isn't too big, and that you're lined up mostly proper over the pedals, that leaves bar positioning and core strength. Raising your handlebar or shortening your stem will bring your center-of-mass backwards and put more weight over your bumside, helping to reduce pressure on your hands. A good rule for a starting position is to have your saddle and your handlebars level with each other and make adjustments from there.
    Core strength allows you to use muscles other than your shoulders/arms/hands to hold your torso up while riding. Balancing that strength around the body means less fatigue for those forward prop points. Exercise ball sit-ups, planks, and side planks are my usual routine. Torso raises (back extensions) are a good one if you have a bench to do them properly.

    You might also look at your gloves and bar tape, as 10 Wheels suggested. Too much padding can compress the soft tissues and deaden the nerves or restrict blood flow.

    I'd advise against aerobars at this point in the game. Not for any of my usual reasons (and I have many), but more for the fact that you're having problems at only 30 minutes. Aerobars would be the equivalent of turning up the radio so you don't hear a squeaky fan belt: Masking the problem won't make it go away. You need to determine the root cause of your hand numbness in such a short amount of time.
    great advice...

    One thing I would add is the saddle "tilt". I found that moving my saddle from what looked like a level position to lifting the nose one tick up really helped!

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    saddle setback shifts % of weight on your backside and off your hands, a higher handlebar set up
    will also take weight off your hands..

    Aero Add-ons can move your upper body weight to your forearms and off your wrists., but,

    would you be comfortable bent over that much for long?

  6. #6
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrming View Post
    great advice...

    One thing I would add is the saddle "tilt". I found that moving my saddle from what looked like a level position to lifting the nose one tick up really helped!
    And if you can't find a comfortable tilt with a microadjust 1-bolt seatpost, then it's a worthwhile investment to move up to a 2-bolt. That was one of the best investments I made in my long distance rig.
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    I had the same problem, and it was showing up as early as 10 minutes into my rides. This is what I did:

    - I have an adjustable-angle stem, and was able to raise my handlebar height by about 1".
    - I re-taped my handlebars with a thicker, shock-absorbing tape. While I was at it, I installed fizik gel shock pads beneath the tape.
    - I bought new gloves (S-works) that had shock-absorbent pads in the palms.
    - I brought my seat slightly forward.

    With these changes, I was much better shape, and can now ride at least two hours without any numbness at all.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I'd spend a couple bucks and go get yourself fitted properly on your bike. There are a ton of different adjustments that can effect your hands and they will also change how you interact elsewhere. Everything is inter-related. Having someone who knows what they are doing and can see you on the bike will make a huge difference. This is definitely a fit issue. There is no way you should have numb hands 10 miles into any ride.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Thank you for the information. I will attempt to make some of the adjustments mentioned. As to what bike I have it is a road bike (Schwinn Traveler).

    Actually, the bike fitting sounds like the best idea. This is a rather old bike though and I was hoping not to spend a whole lot on it.

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    After listening to all of your advice it seemed the general consensus was that this was a fit problem. I checked online for the correct way to fit a bike and tried to make some adjustments. My seat was actually tipped forward a good ways so I brought that to level. On the advice I got here I also raised the handlebars. I went for a ride and tried to stay on the hoods unless I got into a head wind. It made quite a difference. I was starting to feel it after 45 min so I tucked my rear under me a little more and that took the strain off.

    I appreciate the help. It seems so simple but it just takes a little knowledge to make a world of difference.

  11. #11
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    45 minutes is a 50% increase over the half hour you mentioned in the first post. Glad that things are working out a little better.

    Bike fit is one of those "last-mile" efforts... It's really simple to get yourself plopped down on a bike that is almost right. Getting that last bit of everything really dialed in is the tricky part.
    As you ride more, you'll figure out what needs fine tuned.
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    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Absolutely, as others have said, get your fit dialed in. After that you can consider some tried-and-true accessories that help combat numbing; Ergon grips, bar ends, or a different bar set up. I've tried them all and my favourite is trekking bars:
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    Member Astrakan's Avatar
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    I had some problems with hand numbing too, but a pair of Cannondale Gel gloves solved it for me. I've got two pairs, bought from the same eBay seller and each auction have closed under $10. I don't know if it's allowed to post eBay userIDs on this board (I know it's sometimes frowned upon) so if you're interested let me know and I'll PM you the user name.

  14. #14
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    My hands numb up no matter what bike I ride and I have a bunch of them. I can all but stop it by relaxing my neck, shrugging my shoulders from time to time and taking each hand off the bar for a few seconds every once in a while. I got ergonomic grips which help a lot as well. Try to make sure you're not tense through the neck, shoulders, and arms. Relax a bit and it helps a lot. I used to really lock my arms and grip the handlebars tightly. Catch myself doing it sometimes still.

    Fortunately when my hands go numb I can get off the handlebars, shake once and get all feeling back quickly.

    John

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrming View Post
    great advice...

    One thing I would add is the saddle "tilt". I found that moving my saddle from what looked like a level position to lifting the nose one tick up really helped!
    I did this once and had the most incredible pain in the butt after only 5 miles, I actually got a sore (welt), and I can normally ride a bike 50-60 mile without any seat problems.

    it was level but I tried to tilt the nose up, slightly.

    This apparently works for many people but not me.
    Last edited by cyclist2000; 07-26-10 at 09:46 PM.
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    A couple of other things that can cause hand numbness - gloves and the cycling jersey. It took me a while to find gloves that did not put my hands to sleep (i have short fingers but very wide hands). I actually rode an entire year (about 8k miles) without gloves. You really want to have gloves on if you take a fall, though - road rash on the palm of your hand would not be fun. Specialized BG gloves and Pearl Izumi work, but I have to look for the ones with minimal padding.

    The other thing is the elastic on the arm hole of jerseys. Certain brands are tighter, and it can cut off circulation. I cut the elastic with scissors - no more problem.

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    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Sigh, I have numb hand problems too... it's always the index and middle fingers for me though, which leads me to think I'm putting undue pressure on my carpal tunnel (and the little fingers going numb would be the ulnar tunnel). There are gloves out there designed to relieve stress on your nerves in the palm of your hand although i haven't tried any.

    The workaround is to shift your hands around a lot, although it's only moderately successful for me.

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