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Thread: Dead Hands?

  1. #1
    www.Click-Stand.com tomn's Avatar
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    Dead Hands?

    Hello,

    I just got back from my first tour. 1083 miles. It was an unbelievable experience. Now for my hands. On about the fourth day my little fingers + half of my ring fingers were completely numb. They rarely livened up! I bought new gloves after 5 days. I went to the doctor a few days ago, and I have ulnar nerve entrapment. I would guess that I have I hope that this gets better without surgery!!!!!!!! You wouldn't believe what I can't do without sensation in your lesser four fingers!!!! Anyone have encouraging words?

    Thanks,
    Tom

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    jon bon stovie
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    hope it gets better on its own! maybe try doing some finger excerises to get the strength back in those fingers?


    good luck!

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    My hands occasionally get numb on long rides as well. I've found that swinging my arms in large circles windmill style every so often helps restore circulation and feeling. Of course, I recommend swinging only one arm at a time to avoid something more serious than numb hands!

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    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    A physician who also happens to be a long distance cyclist told me to wrap our handlebars with pipe insulation to stop this problem. He said it is caused by the bar constantly putting pressure on one narrow part of the hand where it connects with the wrist. The pipe insulation spreads the pressure more evenly.

    I bought a piece of the foam insulation from Home Depot for $1.25 and cut it in the proper length. After wrapping it with tape I rode for several days. It worked! But, I am embarrased to admit, I took it off becuase it looked so darn silly.
    Last edited by Losligato; 10-06-06 at 08:32 PM.
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    Roam Hawkgrove's Avatar
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    Same thing happened to me after about a 500 mile week long tour. It was the same fingers on just my left hand. I was in grad school and trying to type with your "A" finger numb made paper writing a challenge. It took about a couple months but the feeling did return and I'm fine now. Move those bars and brake hoods around or get aero bars or bar ends to alter your hand postions.

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    tomn what kind of bars? What kind of gloves. I still use th eold leather gloves with thick pads works great for me, and I use regular road bars. Regular bars keep your wrists straight which is also an important factor, also lear to ride with your elbows bent, not locked out and braced (if you haven't been doing this already).

  7. #7
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Me too!

    I get sore palms every weekend after my usual 30 mile ride. On my last tour (10 days) my left hand went partially numb and the feeling didn't return for a few weeks afterward. Like you, I'm looking for answers, because this is the biggest factor that is detracting from my enjoyment of touring, and I LOVE touring. I've used "GRAB ONs" for probably 30 years. They're the black foam tubes that you put on your bars, above the brake hoods, as well as below on the drops. They help somewhat. The foam usually loses it's cushioning ability after a year or so, and I've replaced them dozens of times. It's a pain, because you have to remove the shifters (I have bar-ends) and the brake lever assemblies to slip on the new foam.

    I haven't used pipe insulation. It's probably the same principal, and if it's thicker, it would be worth a try. It would also be good if you didn't have to remove the hardware to install.

    On my last trip to the bike shop I saw what was, to me, a new product - Aztec Padded Bar Wrap and Tape. It consists of some "ergonomic" pads - thicker in some places than others - designed to put maximum padding where you need it most - and some foam bar wrap to wrap around the pads after they're installed. I bought it and tried it out. It was better than the Grab Ons because you didn't have to take off the hardware. The padding feels a little funky, but on my first ride it did seem to be an improvement. However, I still had some degree of pain on my left palm - the kind that would lead to numbness on a tour.

    I recently saw a posting on Crazy Guy On A Bike by a guy who was doing the Adventure Cycling 30-Year-Anniversary Tour, and he bought his "dream bike" for the occasion. It was a custom made Jamis Aurora. One of the things that struck me was the handlbar he had installed. It's a FSA K-WING CARBON ROAD HANDLEBAR. It looked like it had big, semi-flat places to rest palms on the upper corners of the bars - right where I like to rest my palms, but where I can feel the round bars irritating my hands.

    I thought this looked like a very intriguing solution. Except they cost about $229. That's an expensive experiment. I did a post asking if anyone had any experience with these things, but no-one wrote back.

    I've considered trying to build my own little palm rests to attach to the bars, but can't figure out a good way. It seems as if building the bar with carbon fiber affords the opportunity to shape it any way you want - including the way the provides the most protection against the numb-palm syndrome we're experiencing.

    You can now buy grips for mountain bikes that have a thick, oblong spot built into the outer section - it looks like what I've envisioned as a way to cushion my palms. It seems like someone could invent something similar for us drop bar users.

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    Recently, this topic has been getting a lot of feedback in the commuting forum:

    RSI/Wrist & Hand Pain

    Tingling fingers question

    Unfortunately, I don't have any encouraging words. My tingling/numbness started half a year ago after an 800 mile tour and I still have the problem (I also commute by bike). I think the only real solution for me would be to get aero (or maybe albatross or North Road) bars.

  9. #9
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I have three simple suggestions:

    1. Raise your handlebars up to about the level of your saddle. This will put you in a more upright position and take some weight off your hands.

    2. Install a set of Aerobars. Riding in the aerobars will take the pressure off your hands.

    3. Plan shorter distances each day.

  10. #10
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnagaoka
    Recently, this topic has been getting a lot of feedback in the commuting forum:

    RSI/Wrist & Hand Pain

    Tingling fingers question

    Unfortunately, I don't have any encouraging words. My tingling/numbness started half a year ago after an 800 mile tour and I still have the problem (I also commute by bike). I think the only real solution for me would be to get aero (or maybe albatross or North Road) bars.
    I haven't toured yet, so let that be said. But I ride alot and I love very long day trips. For me, North Road bars were the answer. Getting the weight off the hands relieved 90% of the problem. The remaining 10% is bad carpal tunnel for which there is no cure. I'm 50 and wearing out, that's all. I find no efficacy in drop bars since I don't race. The tops twist the wrists un-naturally and the corners and hoods are only a temporary anti-fidget spot. I am constantly squirming on my Sequoia after 40 or 50 miles. With the North Roads (on the 520), there is no subconscious need to move my hands even out to 100 miles. Totally natural wrist rotation, hand bones in-line with forearms and a relaxed elbow. I classify the fit as tension neutral. Those Brits figured it out a long time ago. True long distance comfort for most people can only be found in a semi-upright posture.

    I recommend the steel ones by Wald, I believe. 22" wide for good stability and only a few ounces more than the alloy. The alloy ones only come in 19" and original Brit 3-speed size, 20". You would need mtb levers. Bar end shifters work perfectly. Foam grips slide right over them and capture the cable.

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  11. #11
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    Bike fit becomes an issue, along with saddle. I firmly believe that you should be able to ride a bike with almost no pressure on the hands at the bars for long distances. Bike fit contributes to this. Your position on the saddle, especially if it allows you to slip forward, and you need to compensate by pushing back with your hands, is another contributor to ulna nerve problems. Core body strength is yet another factor. Plus grip. And examine your riding style -- riding with straight arms and locked elbows, contributes to hand problems.

    The lack of feeling and dexterity does go away with rest and no aggravation of the malady. You can try stretching, something I have done when suffering this problem on randonnees. It can be done on the bike, or anywhere there is a horizontal bar or vertical surface.

    Straighten your arm, turn your hand so the palm is facing upward and the fingers are outstretched. Place the tips of you fingers against the bars or vertical surface, then gently push so the fingers bend downward and the heel of the hand moves progressively away from you and into a near-vertical position. The exercise stretches the ligaments/tendons/muscles that are responsible for the nerve entrapment, particularly in the wrist area. I have found some of these problem extend much further up into the arm.

    If you are using flat bars and haven't already done so, rotate the brake and shifter modules so the levers are at a 45-degree angle to vertical and your wrists are virtually straight when you address the levers with your fingers. Most flat-bar bikes are delivered with the levers horizontal, and that produces a sharp angle to the wrists and forces the heel of the hand into a pressure position on the handlebars.

    You might also experiment a little with the tilt of the handlebars, both drop and flat. With flat bars, rotating the ends changes you elbow orientation, so you are inclined more to ride with bends in the joint. With drop bars, the part that flows into the hoods should be horizontal. Your stem should be of a length so that your elbows are slightly bent when on the hoods. The general guide is for the ends of the drops (bar ends) to be pointing at the rear axle.

    If you are having the problem with drop bars, you should cultivate using a broad number of grip options -- including grasping the hoods so only your thumbs are over the tops of the hoods, and your thumbs are down the sides. There are about six different hand positions on drop bars. If you have a flat-bar bike, installing bars ends helps provide some of that variety in hand position.

    Thicker foam *may* help, but a word of caution. Going overboard here can actually be counterproductive because the extra foam can actually squash up the flesh around your ulna nerves. I find that if the bartape and padded glove combination is too much, I also tend to get hand cramps around the little fingers.

    Essentially, you need to have good fit, good core strength (abs in particular), concentrate on riding with *bent* elbows to act as natural shock absorbers, and have a relaxed grip on the bars. The bent elbows one is important because you actually have to concentrate hard to make it a "natural" part of your riding.

    Hope this helps.
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  12. #12
    Florida to Oregon in 2007 lighthorse@eart's Avatar
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    I am glad to see that I am not the only one who gets numb hands on long tours. I have now put a double wrap on my bars, first layer is cork and second is gel. It makes the bar diameter larger and provides for more give. I also think that the stiff arm riding is a part of the problem as well. I have aero bars on all of my bikes, they are great when the wind is blowing, and they give my hands a rest through the day. We will see on the next tour.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Prodigy4299's Avatar
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    I had the same issue after my 3 day tour. Encouraging words - the feeling came back about 4/5 days later. It ust got better and better every day.

  14. #14
    www.Click-Stand.com tomn's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the good advise. I ride with drop bars. A 46cm Nitto Noodle, with several hand possitions. My bar is well above the saddle, and I try to keep my arms bent & relaxed. I started with a new pair of Pearl Izzumi gloves. They have small pads stratigically placed, except there is no padding right at the wrist where the Ulnar nerve runs. I have had slight numbness on rides before, but I could tell that this was more serious. I did tilt my saddle nose up to try to keep from slipping forward. I changed possitions often, as each day went along I had no choice as my hands would hurt like hell. I would shake them out & stay off the tender parts. With Ulnar Nerve Entrapment it is the little finger & the outboard half of the ring fingers that are affected. Mine have made a comeback so that I have about 75% of the feeling. The bad part is the loss of function. If I hold my hands up with the fingers straight, the little fingers stick out away from the rest as far as they can, and the ring fingers stick out about 1/2", and I can't make them move closer. Before the ride I could do the Spock thing. The doctor says to wait four weeks before I panic. I have already decided that it was worth it. Aberdeen, WA to the Golden Gate Bridge in 20 days. Sunshine everyday.

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    Weapons grade stupidity wneumann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomn
    With Ulnar Nerve Entrapment it is the little finger & the outboard half of the ring fingers that are affected. Mine have made a comeback so that I have about 75% of the feeling.
    And unfortunately, it can happen rather quickly. I went on a simple 30 mile ride a couple of weeks ago that included a number of stops in the middle for lunch and a bit of shopping, and by the time I got home I had lost feeling in my right ring finger, and it's still not back all the way.

    What I've done since then (besides being more careful about my hand position), is to start doing hand and wrist stretches, put some ESI Grips on my bars and wrapped that with cloth tape. I'm also looking at the Specialized Body Geometry gloves which appear to have a nice bit of protection for the ulnar nerve (I'm a big fan of their BG saddle, so I'm willing to give the gloves a run). In the past week I've been on 65 and 52 mile rides, and my hands have come through very well.

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    I had the exact same symptoms (including the fingers sticking out), started after a couple of weeks on tour, ended about 3 weeks after I got back, rather gradually. My hand function is completely normal now. I hope for the same for you.

    My problem occured when I was using a flat bar, and went away when I switched to drops.
    ...

  17. #17
    Senior Member FlyingAnchor's Avatar
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    Or
    Switch to a recumbent.
    Steven

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    Senior Member john bono's Avatar
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    It will go away in time. I had it back in early august. (thread) I was off the bike for about two weeks to go to a class, and it hasn't shown up since. Check you position on the bike, and your bar tape. All the gel had extruded out from under the bar tape on my bike, so there was pretty much no cushioning or isolation of vibration.
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  19. #19
    eccentric tourer WestOz's Avatar
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    I've seriously had this problem and still have it in one hand after 2 years. I switched from flat bars to drop bars and fitted touring bars (aero bars). I've recently discovered what is making it worse. I can actually replicate the issue off of the bike. If I press on my palm about an inch away from my wrist, I can reproduce the dead fingers.

    Also the gel gloves have 2 pads which join over this part. On close examine of both sets of gloves the padding had moved and was directly over this part of the palm and making it worse. I still have the fingers sticking out and numbness.

  20. #20
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Hand numbness has been an issue for me on several tours that I've undertaken in the last few years. On my most recent tour of thirteen days, three of my fingers in my left hand were completely numb for most of the trip. The numbness lingered for about two weeks after the end of the tour, but everything is back to normal now.

    I've just decided to deal with the problem when it occurs, instead of investing in new equipment. Numb fingers aren't a particularly bad problem IMO, as long as the condition isn't permanent. I don't feel that it impedes my typing or my ability to do my job to any great extent. Saddle sores and sore feet are usually a greater impediment to comfortable cycling for me.
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  21. #21
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    My tingling sensation on my right thumb & index finger got worse after my double century ride in June. I can't get rid of it. I'm just hoping it'll get better with time.
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