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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 11-07-10, 08:04 PM   #1
SVTNate
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Tingling/numbness in my left forearm/hand while cycling?

I post this here because I don't know if this is due to my weight (270) or not yet having been properly fitted for my new Roubaix Expert.

After about 10-15 miles I start to feel numbness and tingling in my left forearm/wrist/hand. It's a minor annoyance, but I do need to shake it out and get the blood circulating every few miles after mile 15 or so.

It was raining when I bought my Roubaix a few weeks ago, so I just took the bike home and haven't been properly fitted yet. My LBS does great fitting, and I get a free 30-minute session with my new bike, but I haven't scheduled it yet.

I did have the stem flipped yesterday for more rise on the bars. It's more comfortable, but unfortunately today's ride revealed that the numbness was still there. It's only in my left arm, nothing in my right. No pain or numbness anywhere else on my body. It disappears immediately when I get off the bike. I do not get this doing anything except bicycling (not even on my motorcycle), and have no health problems that I am aware of. I'm 30 years old.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what is causing this? I'm calling my LBS this week to schedule a time to get properly fitted for the bike and make any adjustments they see fit.

Oh, and I should add that I do wear Specialized gloves with gel inserts.
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Old 11-07-10, 08:47 PM   #2
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http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html#fingers
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Old 11-07-10, 08:51 PM   #3
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The obvious suspect is pressure/weight on your hands - you're either carrying too much weight on a particular vascular structure (vein, artery, blood vessel) or you are pinching a nerve. Lack of blood flow (first explanation) can result in tingling/numbness as circulation is cut off/returns. Pinching a nerve, well, that's like "''my arm feel asleep" - at least to me.

Possible solutions - change hand position (more) often, change gloves and/or change/add handlebar tape/cushioning.

FWIW, I change hand positions regularly, tighten my grip on my handlebars, wiggle my fingers semi-constantly, and move from upright to in-the-drops riding positions semi-regularly (which changes the weight/pressure on my hands accordingly).
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Old 11-07-10, 08:53 PM   #4
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I weigh the same and ride a Roubaix with zero pain. I would try riding without gloves...they give me aches. I wear Giro Zero fir crash protection only. Your bar tape should be plenty comfy

Good luck!
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Old 11-07-10, 09:00 PM   #5
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Yeah.. forgot about gloves. I have 3 different pair - each has gel pads in different places, so dfferent pressure points. 2 are more comfortable for longer rides than the 3rd.
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Old 11-08-10, 01:54 PM   #6
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Pain can be the result of a lot of different things. Most obvious is to much weight or pressure on the hands. To correct that a longer or shorter stem, or more or less rise may be in order. Also, a light(er) grip maybe all that is necessary. People also have a dominant hand. As a result they may over tense (or overuse) it without thinking about it or in some cases over tense the opposite hand to balance out. Also, your handlebars may need to be rotated slightly which may help.

Gloves might help or exacerbate the problem as well. Over padding can cause pressure points while less padding may not provide enough comfort.

Definitely get fitted. Tell them the problem you are experiencing and have them look at your posture while pedaling.
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Old 11-08-10, 04:20 PM   #7
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Numb hands/arms/shoulders always mean that you have to much weight on them. You want you riding posture to be relaxed while you hold onto , NOT tightly grip, the handgrips.
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Old 11-08-10, 05:14 PM   #8
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What I've read (remember this is the internet) is that too much pressure on the hands indicates the need for greater core work. The theory is that if you strenghten the back and abs then the arms have much less work to do. This allows a lower more streamlined position on the bike. Until I get a stronger core I have to settle with a more upright position and shaking out the numbness in my hands from time to time.Like I said ,this is the internet we'll see but a stronger core probably is a good idea anyway.
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Old 11-08-10, 05:38 PM   #9
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Go and get fit first, then worry about that stuff.
Right now you are not sure if it is a fit problem, or something else.

All of the advice above is reasonable. Try not gripping the bars so hard.
Or gloves with no padding.

I would guess that it is more fit, and overall lack of enough core strengh.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:18 AM   #10
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Thanks guys. Is lack of core strength something that will solve itself with regular riding? This is my first road bike, and I've only been riding for 2 months after a 15-year hiatus. I never had numbness riding my mtb, but then again I never did over 5-6 miles at a time on that bike either. I really want to avoid the gym, because I was a lifter for 10 years and recently stopped (haven't been in 3 weeks after lifting weekly for a decade). I've decided to focus time/energy on riding for weight loss rather than lifting for muscle, and I've found that my appetite is more easily controlled when I'm not lifting. I know if I step foot in the gym for any sort of core strength exercises, I'll end up lifting heavy again - which will increase my appetite (more opportunity to fall off the wagon), and my suits are already too tight in the biceps and shoulders.
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Old 11-09-10, 06:41 AM   #11
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When I first started losing weight I had a lot of weird sensations. I finally went to the doctor and found out I was type 2 diabetic.Then I was put on a bunch of different meds. More and different weird sensations. I was scared but I had someone (the doc) that knew what he was doing advising me. Your problem may or may not be serious. When I talked to my doc about hand numbness he said it was carpel tunnel syndrome. He knows that I'm a semi-retired computer programmer and the prevalence of the problem in old geeks. I've since taken some steps to relieve the problem and they are helping but like all things it will take some time.What I'm not saying is that your problem is the same as mine.(Inadequate core strenght to spend hours a day on a bicycle without discomfort.)
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Old 11-09-10, 08:09 AM   #12
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I get almost the same thing, left side only, never been sure why. It has gotten better as I've gained core and upper body strength but that's been a slow process. I suspect it has a lot to do with posture (since it's only one side) and have a lot less trouble when I try to be aware of my posture and focus on not letting my upper body sag down between my shoulder blades. If that makes any sense. I use a helmet mounted mirror and if I look in the mirror and see more of my shoulder than of the road then I make an adjustment.
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Old 11-09-10, 08:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVTNate View Post
I post this here because I don't know if this is due to my weight (270) or not yet having been properly fitted for my new Roubaix Expert.

After about 10-15 miles I start to feel numbness and tingling in my left forearm/wrist/hand. It's a minor annoyance, but I do need to shake it out and get the blood circulating every few miles after mile 15 or so.

It was raining when I bought my Roubaix a few weeks ago, so I just took the bike home and haven't been properly fitted yet. My LBS does great fitting, and I get a free 30-minute session with my new bike, but I haven't scheduled it yet.

I did have the stem flipped yesterday for more rise on the bars. It's more comfortable, but unfortunately today's ride revealed that the numbness was still there. It's only in my left arm, nothing in my right. No pain or numbness anywhere else on my body. It disappears immediately when I get off the bike. I do not get this doing anything except bicycling (not even on my motorcycle), and have no health problems that I am aware of. I'm 30 years old.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what is causing this? I'm calling my LBS this week to schedule a time to get properly fitted for the bike and make any adjustments they see fit.

Oh, and I should add that I do wear Specialized gloves with gel inserts.
What you are experiencing is called cyclist palsy. More technically, it's called ulnar neuropathy. It's from the vibrations of the road being transmitted through your hands. That constant vibration causes the ulnar nerve to become inflamed and to 'go to sleep' or tingle. Here's a site that gives some information on the condition and what to do about it.

The problem is part fit, part technique and part equipment. Look at what the site says about fit. Try to hold yourself up a little more with your core muscles. Padding under the tape can also help. I have used Aztec Vibe wrap since about 2005 on my touring bike (long days of riding are tailor made for cyclist palsy) and have cut down my incidence of numbness greatly. I have tried gel under the tape but that hasn't worked for me. There's not enough give in the gel when tightly wrapped by the bar tape.

Vibe wrap is easy to put on but tough to take off so beware. The instructions suggest wrapping the bars in vinyl tape before applying the padding. Do so! A better quality handle bar tape...Cinelli cork or Deda foam...is also a welcome addition.

Shaking or moving your hands around is a good idea too. We tend to get locked into a position and forget to move which, for me, exacerbates the problem. Try riding on the hoods for a while, the the flats, then drops, etc. When all else fails, take a break for a while mid-ride. If you aren't racing, there's nothing that says you have to keep pounding out the miles.
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Old 11-09-10, 10:24 AM   #14
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A proper fit will most likely rid you of your pain. I was riding a poorly fitted bike and I had the same issue. Haven't experienced the problem on my new bike.
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Old 11-10-10, 12:37 PM   #15
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I used to ride on drop bars that were too narrow for me and I would get a little hand-tingling. Replaced the bars with ones the width of my shoulders and it has helped a lot. A good question during your bike fit -- make sure your handlebars are the right width.
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Old 11-10-10, 12:43 PM   #16
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I used to ride on drop bars that were too narrow for me and I would get a little hand-tingling. Replaced the bars with ones the width of my shoulders and it has helped a lot. A good question during your bike fit -- make sure your handlebars are the right width.
mmm, that might explain why I have pain on my folding bike (narrow handlebars) but not the others...
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Old 11-10-10, 08:45 PM   #17
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I think the too-narrow bars put my wrist at funny angles, esp. when you need some extra leverage during climbs, etc. It had a huge effect on the 'feel' of my rides. Also fiddled with stem lengths, and that was well worth the minimal $15 expense too. My weight sat on my hands less, or at least better and more comfortably when I dialed that in.
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