Hi everyone! Thanks for all of your help! I just went & got fitted for my bike & my hands aren't numb anymore. The bars were too far away & my seat was back further than it should have been. I appreciate all the comments! Thanks again.
Is it possible that too much cushiness is actually hurting? Kind of like with saddles? Between gel gloves and gel tape and everything else, maybe all the soft comfort is actually pinching things off, kind of like a saddle that's too soft. I don't actually know, it's just a thought.
It's most likely your handlebar and handlebar position. The level handlebar would help, and a handlebar higher than your saddle is even better. But of course, there's a question of comfort vs performance, so if you don't obsses about every second of your ride, try to get a more ergonomic handlebar.
The most comfortable handlebars are probably in the North Road "family" of bars(Nitto makes North Roads, and Rivendell sells exclusive Albatross, also made by Nitto), but like I said, they are not for the aerodynamic weenies. All are utilitarian uprights, not your typical racing style bars, but you should try out other racing style comfort handlebar if thats a big deal.
I've had this problem before, but it's coming back. After rides, my hands (especially my left hand) are numb. What should I do? I have new handlebar tape & nice Moby Gel gloves. But I've had them for a year. Should I buy new gloves? Move my seat? Any help would be great! Thanks!
I am 63 and have been struggling and studying this problem for the last 5 years. The simple issue is that you are leaning with too much weight on your hands. It is cutting your circulation and your hands are going numb from pinching the nerve bundle in the carpel tunnel (what ever the hell that is) and reduced circulation. I have been riding since 1955 with drops have have only had that problem for the last 8 years. My seat to bar height difference had always been about 10 cm. I always rode on the hoods so the low position was perfect for me. I am a big rider (linebacker type) and when I raced the widest bar was 38 inches. I only used the drops in all out sprints.
Well that is all in the past but, I still like riding especially in the mountains here in Colorado. I have been progressively moving the bar up and now have all but eliminated the numbness and sore elbows for my drops on all rides up to 80 miles. My bars are only about 3cm below the seat and it has made all the difference in the world. If I have to I will come up until I am at the same height. It has extended my riding without the unpleasant after affects.
For rides over 80 miles I am working on a flatbar arrangement that has numerous hand positions. I will be experimenting with this arrangement including trying a aero bars added to the flat bars. Right now I have a set of 10 spd campy bar end shifters on a couple of stubby bar ends that are like using an aerobar for a more aero position. I have replaced my brakes with flatbar brakes that have the option for V or Canti brakes. They work well with my campy calipers. For actual bar ends I am using Cane Creek Ergo bar ends. I have been trimming the bars back from the mtb length to a more suitable length. I can climb very steep hills out of the saddle using either the grips on the flat bar or the Cane Creek bar end. I have only just broken 90 miles in the last couple of weeks but the comfort factor was incredible. I am training for the Tour of the Serria (Death Ride) which is a 139 mile ride in one day in the mts. I'll send a photo of the bike with this posting. It is an older picture. The bike looks cool now much like a TT bike.
For your purposes you should try raising the HBs. You can get an extension for either threaded or threadless from your LBS and if not Performance bikes has them on line. I used them to find out my ideal position and will be getting a new Reynolds Ouzo comp fork with the Al steerer tube to allow for the new position. For my threaded forks I am using a longer quill stem. There are options where you can convert to threadless stem on a conversion neck. In any case don't be afraid to experiment. I did my testing on a very light steel bike and am moving the arrangement over to my Ti bike for the Bike Tour of Colorado and the Death Rides in the months of June and July. Good luck.
If your seat is well-positioned for height and KOPS, don't move it! You'll end up with knee and ankle pains.
As for numb hands, there's multiple causes and solutions. We don't have enough data to really make any kind of assessment, so you might want to try all the suggestions.
1. HANDLEBAR HEIGHT - the lower the bars, the more weight you'll have on your arms and hands. Also too short of a reach will also tend to have your arms be vertical with the bars too low, your elbows will be locked and all road shock will pound your hands, arms and shoulders with every road irregularity. I prefer to ride with no lower than a 2" handlebar drop and recreational riders might want to have their bars even with the seat.
2. HAND-POSITION & GRIP probably makes a significant contribution as well. Don't grip the bars so tight! Gripping the hoods/bars tight is compensation for unbalanced positioning. The weight-bearing spot on your hand should be on the heel of the palm:
To really find this spot, do some push-ups and hold yourself up. Notice where the weight is... note that you do not have to grip the carpet to prevent yourself from falling over. Note that you can wiggle all your fingers. The weight-bearing spot is on an imaginary point directly where the forearm bones would extend through your palm.
Now on the bike, place your palm on the bars/hoods so that this spot is directly centered inline with the forearm bones. This spot is not directly over the bars, but rather 45-degrees behind it so that from the perspective of your shoulders looking through your arm-bones, the bars are inline with the bones.
Good way to test is this to release all your fingers, all your weight should be passively supported by the heel of the palm. If you slide off the back of the bars, move your hands up and forward a bit. If you slide off the front of the bars, move your hands back a bit. Finding this perfectly balanced spot will allow you to ride with all fingers loose, try wiggling them all at once. Like this:
Another variation on this is to curl in the fingers and resting the nails on top of the bar.
Couple different ways to rest on the hoods:
You can lightly wrap the fingers over the tops of the hoods or around the side, but no gripping necessary if all your weight is on the heel of the palm.
With no muscles clamping with a death-grip on the bars or hoods, your hands will get more circulation and they'll feel more comfortable. With your hands on the drops, you want them splayed out about 45-degrees like that last photo so that all of the weight is on the outside heel of the palm.
One thing you want to be careful about is positioning your weight in the valley in the middle of the heel. The median nerve and flexor tendons runs through there and putting weight on it will pinch and cause numbness and pain.
It's wierd, but I'm still having hand problems after changing to a LWB recumbent. My hands carry virtually no weight, yet they still hurt. For now, cortisone injections into the tendons at the base of the hand are doing the trick. (once a year) However, I'm still looking for the ultimate solution. When I find it, I'll lket you know.
From a previous wrist injury and just bad genetics, I have wrist (among other things) problems, especially my right wrist. On my cheap dept. store mountain bike left over from my teenage years I ended up putting riser bars that had a lot of sweep...it looked kind of lame, but it worked. With my new rockhopper I've had similar problems w/my right wrist. I put a stem with 40 degree rise on and it helped a bunch. Put on some serafas stabilizer bar ends (similar to the crane creek ones) and it helped too, but is still not enough. I'm not too thrilled about it, but I may end up putting on the handlebars from my old bike. I was thinking about an adjustable stem, but if I have the handlebars already it is worth a shot. That way I can save my money for a better saddle.
Does that philosophy change for off road use (due to pushing AND pulling)?
...the dog told you to how to fit your bike, right?
Why thank you. The dog's my best buddy! Strangely enough, I get more tired hands on flat-bars. Probably due to a single grip with not a whole lot of positions. On the flats, I do rest them right next to the stem like on the tops of drop-bars. I do have the bars higher than my road bike, level with seat so that I don't have as much weight on them. This helps with pulling up the front-end as well since your back doesn't have to pull your upper-body's weight off the bars in addition to the weight of the front-end.
Overall, I do notice more tired and numb hands on the MTB than road-bike for the same amount of riding. But that's completely gone now since I've been working on my massage-certification; my hands & forearms are much stronger now.
I actually think my hand numbness comes from my shoulders. I have the exact same numbness on the diamond frame and the recumbent. I have had shoulder problems in the past and the level of pain in my hands always seems directly proportionate to the pain in my shoulders.
Yeah, I change positions. I actually just went and got fitted for my bike. The bars were too far away & my seat was back a bit too far. I was putting too much pressure on my hands. Things are going much better now. Thanks for your help.