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Finding myself on drops more than on hoods, but numb hands

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Finding myself on drops more than on hoods, but numb hands

Old 06-30-15, 10:54 AM
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Finding myself on drops more than on hoods, but numb hands

So I went in for a fitting, they turned the handle bar couple notches lower (rotating clockwise). Braking on the hoods is better, but still not as good as I was used to on the v-pull brake bike. On the drops, the braking power is almost the same. And since speed/time is a big concern of mine, I find myself on the drops 70% percent of my commute. I like the fact that I can open up my hands and stretch out my fingers while on the drops. But still, my hands get numb at the end of my commute. Can one stay on the drops for 8 miles and not feel numb? Or must I change positions every couple of miles?
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Old 06-30-15, 11:11 AM
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Not sure if we've gone over this in a previous thread, but are you keeping your elbows bent and loose at all times? Locking the elbows due to poor core strength and not enough pedal pressure will cause hand numbness and shoulder pain in a hurry.

At least on my commute, I have plenty of stops along the way to stand up and take pressure off the contact points. Another thought is that even in the drops, you can shift your hands around to adjust where the pressure is placed -- I've had issues with ulnar nerve compression on brevets, so I make sure to rotate my hands a little while riding in the drops.
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Old 06-30-15, 11:23 AM
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I shift my hands between hoods and tops as frequently as every couple of minutes, for a 70+ minute commute. I also have two locations I always stop for a breather, other than the 2 stop lights I go through that I may or may not have to stop for.
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Old 06-30-15, 11:53 AM
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Are you wearing gloves? I have found that some gloves, particularly with too much padding, cause numbness rather than prevent it.
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Old 06-30-15, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Not sure if we've gone over this in a previous thread, but are you keeping your elbows bent and loose at all times? Locking the elbows due to poor core strength and not enough pedal pressure will cause hand numbness and shoulder pain in a hurry.
I am pretty mindful of my posture and try not to put too much pressure on my hands. However, I can't help it when trying to go fast when cars are behind me.

When I ride on the hoods and have to brake hard, I can feel numbness in my hands too...
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Old 06-30-15, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bikecommuter13
I am pretty mindful of my posture and try not to put too much pressure on my hands. However, I can't help it when trying to go fast when cars are behind me.

When I ride on the hoods and have to brake hard, I can feel numbness in my hands too...
That's the odd thing -- riding hard and going fast is when you should have the least amount of weight on your hands.

Here's another thought: how is your saddle tilted? If it is nose-down, you will constantly need to push back with your hands to maintain your position. It doesn't take much to make a big difference in hand pressure.
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Old 06-30-15, 12:54 PM
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There are so, so many contributing factors that can give you numb hands. I've had issues recently and found that getting back into a routine designed for core exercise has made a big difference in as little as a few weeks. I was constantly getting a numb right hand on rides. Sometimes 10 miles in, sometimes 5. I did a 30 mile ride on Sunday and my hand got numb maybe once. A weak core means you work your arms too hard and also put too much pressure on your palms and wrists trying to support yourself.

I also found that the gloves are very tricky to nail down and are almost as personal as saddles. I swore against padded gloves for the same reasons listed above. I tried gloves without padding and then rode without gloves for a long while with no issues. Then I had issues again and grabbed a pair of gloves that had larger patches of padding (vs. those small really hard pads on some gloves) and that helped a lot. But the only thing that really helped were the core exercises. The wrong gloves will hurt and the right gloves can help, but will only mask underlying issues if bad gloves aren't the original cause.

You mention a fit, so I'm going to assume the shop did everything in terms of saddle position and swapped stems if needed to adjust reach. A short stem crunches you and you're always pushing back. A long stem means you end up reaching all the time, and locking out your arms.

This won't solve numb hand problems, but can be an added comfort: If you want really even padding, don't be afraid to try an extra layer of bar tape. If you have a fancy tape you like for feel/aesthetics, do a layer of cheap foam gel tape underneath. If you don't care, just throw some cheap foam gel tape on top of your existing tape. It's especially nice if you have bigger hands.
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Old 06-30-15, 01:10 PM
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It sounds like contact with the outside of your hand, ie at the wrist opposite your little finger, could be contacting both the bars and the brake lever and causing the numbness.

Perhaps the curve of your bar at the drop is too tight so you are placing your weight on that one plcae instead of distributing it along a larger distance. Using old school bars and stem, I would get aroung that issue by rotating the bars back up a little (counter-clockwise looking at the drive side of the bike). I would then slide the brake lever a little down to get it back near where it was before. (But maybe not as far forward/down. Keeping them a touch higher could take a little pressure off while braking.)

If you have modern ergo handlebars and a stem with no spacers under, my advice may be a challenge to carry out and may not work very well for you. You might want to stay open to the idea of a different handlebar.

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Old 06-30-15, 01:31 PM
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Just an add-on to say: get your handlebars right. What I posted above might be a start or I could be completely off base. I have never seen you on your bike. I have never seen the bike. But I have been riding long enough to know that the handlebars and brake lever shapes and locations are key to being comfortable on the bike. Yes, the right gloves, padding and doing the core stuff all helps. But, and this is a big but, a good bike is comfortable. Period. Whether you ride it every day or haven't been on it for a year. (Take a year off and you will be sore after 20 miles, but your body will quickly get used again to a bike that is right.)

Your bike should be as comfortable as your best armchair. You don't have to put on protective clothing to sit in that armchair. You shouldn't have to to ride your bike either. (That said, there are very good reasons to wear gloves. shorts and helmet and if you ride long and hard, the contact points at your hands and butt will suffer without good clothing. But nothing should be requires to go 7 miles. Ever. Well, except shorts.)

Document what your fitter set up for you so you can return to it. Then start experimenting. Look at other bikes, other riders, especially the riders who go long distance, Look at what works. Keep an open mind. Talk to people. And don't settle until your bike is that super armchair. (I say armchair, but a racing bike may be a wooden seat. But it should be a wooden seat carefully hand sculpted to fit your backside perfectly so you could watch a four hour movie in it and never notice,) I raced a bike that was that comfortable when my back was horizontal. (Yes, it was work, there was a lot of weight on my hands and the race I rode where we had such a headwind I never came out of the drops for three hours was epic, but doing that race on less than the super comfortable bike would have been torture.)

Don't quit until the bike is there!

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Old 06-30-15, 01:38 PM
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The older I get, the more I have to vary my hand positions regardless of which bike I'm riding.
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Old 06-30-15, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
Document what your fitter set up for you so you can return to it. Then start experimenting.
Thanks guys for the advice. I'll watch some youtube videos and see what I can adjust.
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Old 06-30-15, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
That's the odd thing -- riding hard and going fast is when you should have the least amount of weight on your hands.

Here's another thought: how is your saddle tilted? If it is nose-down, you will constantly need to push back with your hands to maintain your position. It doesn't take much to make a big difference in hand pressure.

Exactly. I find, if anything I'm PULLING on the bars more than leaning on them when going fast in the drops.

I think OP might be putting more weight on hands than he thinks? My goal when I'm in the drops is to keep wrists at a neutral angle, and loose, as well as elbows slightly bent and loose. Most of your riding in the drops when cruising you really shouldn't be "supporting" yourself with your hands, it should be nearly all core.
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Old 06-30-15, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by AlTheKiller
Exactly. I find, if anything I'm PULLING on the bars more than leaning on them when going fast in the drops.
The pulling part, and the fact that I have to squeeze my hands to pull it and control the bike, makes my hands numb. It shouldn't happen?
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Old 06-30-15, 06:32 PM
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Sliding my seat back helped me with hand discomfort, as it put more of my weight back. As others said, relaxing helps a lot too (something I have to really work on).
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Old 06-30-15, 06:53 PM
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Study the anatomy of the hand. If you pressure any of the major nerves in the hand, you will get numbness. Some places to watch out for is the area in between the lumps on the palm of your hand, the area between your thumb and index finger etc... You need to make sure that you are putting pressure, basically, the parts of your hands that would bear weight when you do pushups. Gloves and all that can help, but if there is any pressure on these spots for an extended period, you will get numbness. The only way to make it go away is to not pressure those nerves.

This post was an eye opener for me and solved some of the numbness problems I'd had for decades. Palm to forehead slap for me after all these years. There are pictures of the hand and where the nerves run in this post and it shows you were to put your hands.

https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycli...l#post12953035

J.
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Old 06-30-15, 06:54 PM
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I recently discovered that when I'm sitting more forward on the saddle my left hand gets numb. However, when I position my sit bone further back on the saddle the numbness disappears. It's a strange thing, I know. This discovery came midway through my last ride, so I don't know if it's just coincidence. I'll know for sure after tomorrow's ride.

Something else to consider.
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