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  1. #1
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    Hand Weak After Riding / Has This Happened To Anyone?

    This past Christmas I went from a comfort bike to a road bike, complete with drop bars (Trek Pilot). The transistion was fine for about a month, then a funny problem developed. One day after riding 40 miles, I had my first flat. It was on the rear. I took the wheel off, changed the tube and was back on the road. I noticed that while changing the flat, my left hand seemed weak. On the way home, it was difficult to shift gears with my left hand.

    Now, almost a month later, I find that after riding, my left hand is weak. I rode 25 miles today, and as I type this, my hand is weak. It feels weak from the elbow to the hand. It will be ok in a few days, but will be back after I ride.

    I know you are supposed to change positions while riding. I sometimes hold on to the tops, then hoods, then drops. Sometimes I ride a few minutes with my left hand free.

    I am wondering if I have damanged a nerve or something. Maybe carpal tunnel? I do not have any pain, just weakness in my left hand. Incidentally, I am left handed. Thanks.

    Dennis

  2. #2
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Yikes! That doesn't sound very good at all. I assume you wear gloves. Have you tried gloves with gel by chance? The only similar issue I've experienced occurred when I rode with the middle of my palm pressed against the top of the hood above the shifter for a long time. My problem went away with some better gloves with gel in the palms.

    Just wondering if yours could be tied to elbow or even shoulder issues. Have you tried moving your left arm and shoulder around occassionally while riding? A good one ergo move for the shoulder is to take your hand behind your back and reach up with your thumb as far as you can.

    If problems persist I would not hesitate to get an ortho's opinion who is familiar with sporting activities.

    I assume your fit is okay to where you're weight is well balanced on the seat and you're not having reach problems to the bars.....or find yourself with too much weight on the hands and bars.

  3. #3
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    Are there any other symptoms?

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Notice that the "Sponsored Links" in between posts are about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?????
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  5. #5
    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    Happened to me. I also play tennis, and it was tough! What helped are a number of things. Better gloves. Worked on core strength so I was putting less weight on my hands. And I rode more. My hands were back to normal after a ride in about 3 months. Hasn't been a problem since.

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    Senior Member Raketmensch's Avatar
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    I have had exactly this problem. It was also on my left hand. The hand got both weak and clumsy... the problem was most notable on my little finger and ring finger. I also experienced minor tingling/numbness of those fingers.

    I'm no doctor, and only doctors should provide diagnoses. However, what you have (and what my doctor confirmed I had) sounds like a condition sometimes referred to as "handlebar palsy". It comes about as a consequence of damage to the ulnar nerve, brought about by pressure and road vibration transmitted to the nerve where it crosses the palm of your hand. If you google "handlebar palsy" or "ulnar nerve" you can find a good deal of information about this on the web. It is a common problem among cyclists.

    I found that in my case there were two simple keys to solving the problem. First, always ride with gloves that are well padded. Second, change hand positions a lot, so that you don't have extended periods of putting pressure on critical areas. When I developed the problem I was riding without gloves (and without padded bar tape), and keeping my hands in a single position for long periods of time. Making these two changes solved the problem for me.

    Again, your mileage may vary... the internet is a dangerous place to look for medical advice. But that was my experience.

    I hope your hand is feeling better soon!!!!

  7. #7
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    your problem doesn't sound like a normal after-ride ailment to me - seek professional advice.

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    I had this problem this past summer after I rode a century on very rough roads. It was cubital tunnel, which is caused by irritation or compression on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. I couldn't type or do much of anything with my left hand for days after the ride, and numbness lasted for weeks. Physical therapy and rest eventually brought back my grip strength.

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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berts
    your problem doesn't sound like a normal after-ride ailment to me - seek professional advice.
    +1, Play it safe, see a doctor.
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  10. #10
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    While it sounds like Raket is on the right track I thought of some other "tips" while out riding today. As you're riding verify that your elbow joint is bent (versus straight) while you are riding. The muscles in your hands, arms and shoulder area work as "shock absorbers" while you're riding. Just make sure your arms are not straight for long distances. I doubt this is the cause for your symptoms but it doesn't hurt to keep it in mind. While it sounds like the cause is more in the hands and wrist this still might help.

    If you ride "straight armed" your shoulder and neck wind up taking most of the jolts and trust me, that will cause issues over time. I had some fit issues where I was needing to reach too far and over time I wound up at the ortho with pretty severe shoulder problems.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmcclus
    I know you are supposed to change positions while riding. I sometimes hold on to the tops, then hoods, then drops. Sometimes I ride a few minutes with my left hand free.

    I am wondering if I have damanged a nerve or something. Maybe carpal tunnel? I do not have any pain, just weakness in my left hand. Incidentally, I am left handed. Thanks.

    Dennis
    Don't know what the problem is, so it sounds like a visit to the Doctors.

    I know that I have a Circulation problem that gets worse in the winter. Cold hands are the normal symptoms and the occasional hand numbness but this can be alleviated by Hand flexing. I had a ride a few years ago in which Hypothermia almost set in and the right arm went very weak and painful for a few days afterwards. This was when I went to the doctors and found out the Circulation problem. Yours does not sound the same though so get it checked out.
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  12. #12
    Dave TRUMPHENT's Avatar
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    I'm a leftie too. I have never experienced your specific symptoms. I ride a mountainbike commuting to work. 10 hrs a week on the bike.
    My left arm is discernibly longer than my right. If I keep my shoulders parallel to the bars, my left elbow sticks out to the side.

    Berts and roccobike have good advice. See the doktor. Let us know how this goes.

  13. #13
    jcm
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    #1 See a doctor. Have a stress test done and an ECG. If OK, go to #2:

    #2 This is why I use North Road Bars. No more 'restless hands' trying to find the sweet spot on the bars. I can leave them where they are supposed to be all day. No numbness, tingling, bent wrists or pain where the ulna joins the underside of the elbow.

    Go to the doctor!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Dennis,

    Since you didn't have this problem on your other bike, it sounds like a possible fit issue. I agree with the other posters that you should probably seek professional medical help. You may have done some damage that needs looking after. However, if your bars are too low, too far forward, or angled improperly, this can obviously put too much pressure on your hands and may be the source of your problem. It may be best to consult with a sports medicine specialist.

    Is your saddle close to the same height as the tops of your bars, or are the bars more than a few inches lower? Jppe makes a good point regarding bent elbows, too. If your stem is too long, your arms will be too straight. And, the suggestions regarding padded gloves are certainly worthy of consideration. It all adds up to lowering pressure and stress on your hands and lower arms. Good luck, and I hope you get it worked out. Let us old f**ts know, so we can deal with it if it happens to us.

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    Guys,

    Thanks for all the replies. I have been taking ibuprofen this weekend and things seem a little better. I may have some inflammation. I plan to ride a little tomorrow, but will take it easy. I will see if my arms are straight or bent a little as they should be. I will also try a glove with more padding, and change positions more often. Yes, I did not have this problem with my comfort bike. It may indeed be a bike "fit" problem. I was fitted by a good LBS shop in Birmingham. I may need to move my seat forward a little. I have a Trek Pilot which has a more "upright" position (seat is level with bars) but I still have a lot of pressure I think, as I am leaning forward a little all the time. I also noticed the brake cables have stretched since Christmas on my bike. I am having to squeeze quite a bit to get the brakes to apply, so I just adjusted them to be a little tighter.

    If I do not see any problems with fit, I will resort to a doctor soon. Thanks again guys, and I will keep you posted.

    P.S. Age here is 54, 5'7"@150 lbs. Not really overweight, but bent over a little all time with the drop type bars compared to comfort bike. I have logged only 300 miles on the road bike. Maybe my body needs to get used to new position. I will certainly keep a doctor in mind if I do not improve soon. Thanks

    Dennis

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    Just returned from 40 mile ride. I did not realize it before, but I am keeping my arms straight, not bent at the elbows. This may explain most of my problem. I have a Trek Pilot. The geometry of this bike allows for a more "upright" riding position. I must have been taking this to heart too much. Yes, I was trying to ride so upright, that I kept my arms fully extended! Not good! I guess I will have to get used to being bent over a little so my elbows are not locked in. I am thinking about moving my seat forward just a bit. This may help me to reach the bars easier. I noticed today, that if I slide forward on the seat, things were better. I know that for the seat to be alinged correctly, the small bone on the front of my knee needs to be directly over the pedal axis. I think if I move my seat forward 1-2 inches, I will still be ok.

    On today's ride, I kept my elbows bent the entire ride. I constantly changed positions with my hands every 30 seconds. Many times, I left my left hand free. I still have a weak hand now, but it is much better than after most rides. I also used gloves with more padding. Thanks for all the advice. I will keep you posted.

    Dennis

  17. #17
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    I think if I move my seat forward 1-2 inches, I will still be ok.
    Moving your seat forward 1-2 inches is a tremendous change of position.

    I might suggest 1/4 inch at a time and trying it out?
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  18. #18
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmcclus
    Just returned from 40 mile ride. I did not realize it before, but I am keeping my arms straight, not bent at the elbows. This may explain most of my problem. I have a Trek Pilot. The geometry of this bike allows for a more "upright" riding position. I must have been taking this to heart too much. Yes, I was trying to ride so upright, that I kept my arms fully extended! Not good! I guess I will have to get used to being bent over a little so my elbows are not locked in. I am thinking about moving my seat forward just a bit. This may help me to reach the bars easier. I noticed today, that if I slide forward on the seat, things were better. I know that for the seat to be alinged correctly, the small bone on the front of my knee needs to be directly over the pedal axis. I think if I move my seat forward 1-2 inches, I will still be ok.

    On today's ride, I kept my elbows bent the entire ride. I constantly changed positions with my hands every 30 seconds. Many times, I left my left hand free. I still have a weak hand now, but it is much better than after most rides. I also used gloves with more padding. Thanks for all the advice. I will keep you posted.

    Dennis
    Good feedback. Everything with position starts with the saddle/seat. You're spot on with the proper saddle position related to the knees and pedals. I'd suggest making sure that's where the saddle is positioned. Moving forward or backwards could lead to knee issues over the long haul so be careful about much of a position change there.

    If you see a need to pull the handlebars closer to you, you could investigate "flipping the stem" (it might already be angled upward bringing it a little closer) or getting a stem that is shorter. Maybe the bike shop will swap it out with what you have with no charge if that would help........My LBS did this for me when I got my new bike to help make sure the fit was right for me.

    The only other thing I can think of is carbon handlebars, which some of my buddies have gone to which helped them with some of their ailments. You could also investigate the width of the handlebars (you might have 42 cm center to center now) and could play with a little different width to see if that would help with the angle the wrists rests on the bars. Also make sure you have some really good handlebar tape-some folks use 2 wraps to provide more comfort......Just some other ideas.

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    One more piece of information. I was just checking my bike log and discovered something interesting. I logged 8 rides totaling 180 miles on the Trek Pilot before I had a problem with a weak hand. Could it still be a fit issue? According to my log, on my 9th ride, I had a flat on the rear. I changed the tube and man-handled the tire back on the rim for the last few inches. This is when I noticed my hand started to weaken. Maybe I damaged something that day, and all the rest is just aggravating the situation. Maybe I will go to the doctor if not better soon.

    I am not sure if I have a "fit" problem, however, I am going to move the seat forward slightly and see what happens. I may also go to my LBS about changing the stem. Thanks

    Dennis

  20. #20
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    I had a persistent problem with weakness and numbness in my left hand (little and ring finger). I ignored it for too long and finally had to have an operation to treat the damage to the ulnar nerve. The doctor who did the operation recommended wearing gel gloves and limiting my mileage on the bike.

    Since limiting my mileage wasn't going to happen, I looked for other solutions. The only one that has worked for me is the use of aero bars. I now have a set on each of my bikes. When I ride the mountain bike, road bikes, track bikes, or tandem using the regular hand positions, the numbness starts up within 15 minutes. When I use the aero bar position, a ride of 100+ miles is no problem (for my hand, anyway). Add a set of aero bars to your bike and the problem will go away.

  21. #21
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    I'm surprised nobody suggested trying out a recumbent bicycle with underseat steering. After many years of trying to cope with "bicyclist palsy" the variation of carpal tunnel syndrome caused by riding bicycles or motorcycles, I finally tried out a recumbent in late 1999. No, they aren't available in your 15 pound version and you may be slower but being able to ride 3,000 miles in the year 2000 instead of a few hundred miles before getting bent sure made up for it.

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