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Thread: numb hands

  1. #1
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    numb hands

    It seems the search option is 'temporarily disabled' or I'd search for info on this before posting.

    Anyway, I have a problem with numb hands and hand/wrist pain while riding my road bike. Riding on the drops is not even an option, it's too painful. I usually ride on the brake hoods, but even then it only takes about 15 minutes
    to start having symptoms. I move my hands around probably every 30 seconds to 1 minute, and sometimes have
    to let one hang by my side to get the blood back in my fingers and regain feeling. I'm afraid of doing some serious
    damage as I work up to longer rides (I rarely ride more than an 1.5 hours right now), and suffering long term effects
    if I don't get this fixed. FWIW, my seating and pedaling position is very comfortable and I have no problems with my legs/butt. I think the adjustment probably needs to occur with the handlebars and stem, I don't want to change my leg position too much.

    Obviously I must be supporting too much of my weight on the handlebars, but I'm not sure of the best way to correct that. My first thought is that maybe I need a longer stem, and possibly wider handlebars so that my wrists are a little straighter.

    Any advice is appreciated,
    Brian

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    Tri Coach/UltraMarathoner kosherdave's Avatar
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  3. #3
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 69boo307
    I think the adjustment probably needs to occur with the handlebars and stem, I don't want to change my leg position too much.

    Obviously I must be supporting too much of my weight on the handlebars, but I'm not sure of the best way to correct that. My first thought is that maybe I need a longer stem, and possibly wider handlebars so that my wrists are a little straighter.

    Any advice is appreciated,
    Brian
    Well you seem to know the issue now it is a matter of fixing it. Yes you are putting too much weight on your hands...the fix is to raise the bars and to gain core strength to support your body.

    What is your saddle to bar drop? I am guessing greater than 3"

    Flip the stem up and see if that helps...you may need a stem with more rise...also if you have spacers above the stem you can move them under and lift it a bit that way. The stem flipped down may look cool but if you don't have the flexability and core strength your only hurting yourself.
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    some new gloves are definitely on my list. The ones I have aren't too bad, but I wouldn't call them 'nice'.

    I have tried flipping my stem upside down, it didn't help much. My handlebars now sit at the most an inch lower than my saddle. If I raise it much more I'll look like I'm riding a beach cruiser, but I suppose it's
    worth a try. How does the 'reach' or stem length affect weight distribution from hands to butt?
    I have pretty good upper body strength, I rock climb and do regular push ups, pull ups, and 'core' exercises on one of those big balls. I have pretty poor flexibility though, and always have since childhood. That's
    probably made worse from years of running.

  5. #5
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Are youe elbows locked out when you ride?

    I am not 100% sure but I would think that if you extend the bars farther out and increase the reach you will put more weight on your hands. Shorter reach should put the weight back on your butt.
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  6. #6
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Bike fit is incorrect.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

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    Rocking the roads of Bama
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    Ironman gloves helped me out a bit

    I was having trouble after my first long road ride on a very busy street. 15 miles of cars coming dangerously close to me and my right hand started tingling. Nothing helped, I went to an accupuntcurist (I can't spell). She did her thing and it got a lot better. She showed me a place between my index and middle finger on the back of the palm of my hand. I press down on that after every ride, and it seems to help a lot.

    Also I started stretching my arms, wrist and fingers.

    It seems so easy, but I'd rather do this stuff than deal with again.

  8. #8
    Ride it like you stole it WheresWaldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarWizard
    Bike fit is incorrect.
    GW, this wasn't completely helpful. Since I suffer from numb hands about 40-50 miles into a ride I would like to know what aspect of bike fit is incorrect. I am in a pretty good riding position, last saddle adjusment was just 1/8" to aleviate a very slight knee pain after about 50 miles.

    If it's just a core strenght issue then some crunches and situps might be called for over the winter. But, if it's a bike fit issue, do you have a suggestion as to what doesn't fit right?
    "Never use your face as a brake pad" - Jake Watson

  9. #9
    five for fighting Havs's Avatar
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    69 boo,

    bike fit is something to look at. I am still making minor adjustments to my seat height/position, hood position and still had probs w/numb hands (after 1500+ miles this year). I ride a full aluminum frame, so I recently installed Specialized "Phat Wrap" gel bar tape and started wearing Specialized gloves-it helps on long (60+ mile) rides. I still get some numbness, still shaking out my hands once in awhile on long rides. But it made a difference, FWIW.

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    The cause is too much weight on the hands, but most so far have suggested a "gear" fix, a new stem, new bike, better gloves.

    Leave everything on your bike exactly as it is and try to alter your upper body position. When you ride, you should have very little weight on your hands.

    Try this. When you are on your bike, keep yout butt where it is, don't let it slide back, and push away from the bars with your arms, rotating your hips more towards the vertical and arching your back. Push back until you feel little weight on your hands. This is the new position to train in. It will feel awkward at first, but repeatedly push back as you train to maintian the position. Stretch and do sit up to keep your core strong and flexible.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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    Senior Member jjmolyet's Avatar
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    I purchased Ironman Elites at $50 but they are doing great job, I also have Specialized BG gloves they also work great, but I had to drive an hour a few years ago to get them and did not feel like waiting for a web order, Ironman gloves have been on rides of 26, 50, and 62 miles with little numbness. I have been tuning my bike to get right mix for comfy ride for sometime, and I also believe just like sitting at a desk all day typing the human body was probably not designed to ride a bike for hours at a time. You need to tweek and get really good gloves, and keep your arms slightly bent, this will force your core to sustain much of the weight your hands were keeping up..good luck
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarWizard
    Bike fit is incorrect.

    I'd agree with that and add that perhaps the bike isnt the correct size. I had the same issue and after spending $225 on fittings it was determined that I needed a smaller frame. After test riding a few I did end up with a 53cm instead of a 54cm. Everything feels better now, neck, shoulders etc. There still is some slight numbness, which I think everyone experiences from time to time, but it is significantly reduced from what it was previously.

  13. #13
    Scottish Canuck in the US blue_nose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    The cause is too much weight on the hands, but most so far have suggested a "gear" fix, a new stem, new bike, better gloves.

    Leave everything on your bike exactly as it is and try to alter your upper body position. When you ride, you should have very little weight on your hands.
    I agree with this. This is the cause of most numb hands issues. Fit may come into play here if the bike setup is forcing you to put too much pressure on your hands.

    My advice is to make sure you keep a bend in your elbow, hold the bars lightly, keep your shoulders down and concentrate on keeping your whole upper body relaxed during your ride. If your face, shoulders and arms are relaxed, it should help your numb hands.

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    If it's too painful to even use the drops, I would think you might want to have a proper fitting at a bike shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    Try this. When you are on your bike, keep yout butt where it is, don't let it slide back, and push away from the bars with your arms, rotating your hips more towards the vertical and arching your back. Push back until you feel little weight on your hands. This is the new position to train in. It will feel awkward at first, but repeatedly push back as you train to maintian the position. Stretch and do sit up to keep your core strong and flexible.
    I understand what you are saying and it is something I have tried to train my body into but it is hard to maintain this position. I find it easier while pushing hard on flats or going uphill, but when cruising I put hopelessly too much weight on my hands.

    I know I should give the body more time to get stronger. I raced when young and then did not ride for years. I never remember numbness in hands/fingers. Picked up riding seriously 7 months ago again and have done some 3200 mi since then.

    Are there any other excercises you would recommend than simply biking more to speed up the core strength and flexibility? Crunches? I do a limited stretching program after the ride.

  16. #16
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheresWaldo
    GW, this wasn't completely helpful...
    Sure it was....it summed it up quite nicely.

    ....But, if it's a bike fit issue, do you have a suggestion as to what doesn't fit right?
    Well, since I'm not a professional fitter, you may wish to enlist the help of someone who is...and in person, with you and your bike, and your riding gear
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

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    Quote Originally Posted by xrazer
    I understand what you are saying and it is something I have tried to train my body into but it is hard to maintain this position. I find it easier while pushing hard on flats or going uphill, but when cruising I put hopelessly too much weight on my hands.

    I know I should give the body more time to get stronger. I raced when young and then did not ride for years. I never remember numbness in hands/fingers. Picked up riding seriously 7 months ago again and have done some 3200 mi since then.

    Are there any other excercises you would recommend than simply biking more to speed up the core strength and flexibility? Crunches? I do a limited stretching program after the ride.
    I would try abdominals and also stretching. If you look at photos of pro riders that have a very good bike position, you will notice that their backs seem to be hinged in the middle, instead of bending at the hips, they bend near where their ribcage begins on their backs.

    This is great form because the hips can be held closer to the vertical, which supports the upper body more, keeping weight off the hands, and also allows the muscles in the lower back to be used more for pedalling. It looks weird, but thats the form I try to achieve (not that I'm close). Also, the leaner you are , the easier it is to achieve this position, so if you can shed a few pounds (I know I can), it will be easier.
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  18. #18
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    In addition, couple of other things. 1) make sure your wrist isn't cocked, that traps the nerve and adds to numbness, keep your wrist so your hand extends straight from your arm, 2) alter your hand position often. 3) ride one handed or no handed periodically, 4) ride split fingered on the hoods for a bit, so you take pressure completely off your palms. 5) loosen the death grip on the bars.

  19. #19
    Craig A. Lebowitz lebowitz's Avatar
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    Personally I found that having my saddle too far forward was causing me to put too much weight on my hands. In general I have heard that you want to divide your weight evenly between your hands, saddle, and the pedals.

    Specialized BG gloves are good. I made the mistake of getting my first pair too loose because I wanted to be able to take them off easily. Bad idea. They end up slipping all over the place and the pads don't contact the tape as they should.

    Also Specialized Phat Bar tape is cushy and helped me aleviate shooting pains that I used to get in the hands.

    I independently discovered the advice given by San Rensho and it's good. Reposturing this way may help you.

    Overall, more training is only going to help you but definitely don't try to ride through numb hands. Your intuition to take your hands off the bars is a good one.

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    I found that switching to a flat top handlebar helped alot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebowitz
    Specialized BG gloves are good. I made the mistake of getting my first pair too loose because I wanted to be able to take them off easily. Bad idea. They end up slipping all over the place and the pads don't contact the tape as they should.
    This is interesting, because I am leaning to the opposite conclusion in my case. I was/am having a lot of problems with hand numbness and a little pain across all four fingers. Switched from my old gloves to Specialized BG gloves with some satisfaction. I think that one part of my problem is the moral equivalent of overtightening one's shoes prior to a workout. My old and new gloves both seem to constrict my fingers as they swell during a ride, thus causing some numbness. I don't have particularly large hands but fitting the gloves over the palms tends to jam the finger parts in between my fingers. So what has worked for me is to leave the gloves a little loose around my palms and better seated around my fingers. It sounds crazy, but has made a noticeable difference in reducing tingliness.

    Anyway, I thought that I would throw this out as a suggestion. Maybe it will help...

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    Also try to experiment with your saddle angle. Having the nose of the saddle tilting slightly upward might improve your position and keep weight off your wrists. That and a few hours in the gym doing wrist curls, lower back exercises and situps helped me a lot.

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    Do you ever have hand/wrist/finger pain even when you're not riding? If not, it's probably something with the bike and I'll leave it to the experts above. If you have the pain even when you're not riding, maybe it's some other condition at work. There are a lot of joint conditions that seem to center in the hand and wrist. Not to be maudlin, but I was diagnosed with arthritis a few years ago at age 36, which began as pain and numbness in my wrists and fingers. It's a chronic joint issue for me. Not saying you have it, but if the pain and numbness is something that persists, you might want to consider seeing a doctor about it.

  24. #24
    not as fat as I was Biggziff's Avatar
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    I had a similar issue starting to happen now that I'm riding 20+ miles each ride. Bike fit, stem too long. Beetl (a poster here) sent me a shorter, angled stem and I had it installed today (the old stem was a Sterling without a 2 bolt cap so the bars had to be unwrapped) Rode about 15 miles tonight and already i can feel a huge difference. More upright, less pressure on the hands, feel much better in the drops, etc.

    Thanks, Beetl!
    humans can be so....rude

  25. #25
    Craig A. Lebowitz lebowitz's Avatar
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    Yep, the guys at my LBS told me that you want to be able to comfortably make a fist without feeling too much pressure across the top of the hand. Guess it's a balancing act ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dfrank
    This is interesting, because I am leaning to the opposite conclusion in my case. I was/am having a lot of problems with hand numbness and a little pain across all four fingers. Switched from my old gloves to Specialized BG gloves with some satisfaction. I think that one part of my problem is the moral equivalent of overtightening one's shoes prior to a workout. My old and new gloves both seem to constrict my fingers as they swell during a ride, thus causing some numbness. I don't have particularly large hands but fitting the gloves over the palms tends to jam the finger parts in between my fingers. So what has worked for me is to leave the gloves a little loose around my palms and better seated around my fingers. It sounds crazy, but has made a noticeable difference in reducing tingliness.

    Anyway, I thought that I would throw this out as a suggestion. Maybe it will help...

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