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Numb hands

Old 07-15-11, 01:11 PM
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sunstorm
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Numb hands

With swithing bikes, I'm finding that my hands are tingling/numb towards the end of my ride. This bike puts me at a more forward angle rather than upright, but I'm comfortable. Will this resolve as I put more miles on the bike/adapt? Or is there something I need to try adjusting? I don't feel any discomfort in my hands or wrists until I realize they are tingling, and it seems to mainly be the outer fingers. Thanks!
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Old 07-15-11, 01:25 PM
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You may be gripping to tightly as you get acclimated to the bike and how it responds. With that you just have to remain cognizant of it and try to loosen your grip. Otherwise it just may be body position and has now put more weight on your hands. Maybe some gloves.

Unfortunately it could also be from a number of reasons and not have a singular cause with a quick fix.
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Old 07-15-11, 01:31 PM
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I get the same sensation. which is funny cause I was thinking it's becuase my bike has me sitting more upright that I think is comfortable. I was going to change the handle bars this weekend, but might wait now untill a few more post here.
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Old 07-15-11, 01:32 PM
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what kind of handle bar are you rolling with? i find it absolutely necessary to have a bar with multiple hand positions (ie. drop bars, treking bars, bullhorns, etc) to prevent my hands from numbing up on me. switch hand positions early, switch 'em often.

my new hybrid with just a flat bar was giving me some real bad hand numbing issues when i first got it, so i slapped on some better grips (Ergon knock-offs) and padded bar ends from another bike, and the combination of better grips and more hand positions made a world of difference. i still wouldn't ride a century on the bike (not what it's designed to do anyway), but i can at least do my 15 mile ride into work on it without getting tingly fingers now. ultimately i hope to find some MTB-sized grip area bullhorns to put on it for maximum comfort.

Last edited by Steely Dan; 07-15-11 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 07-15-11, 01:59 PM
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No, numbness does not resolve with more miles or HTFU. You are pinching a nerve or vein/artery somewhere. It could be your gloves, your new position may be putting too much weight on your hands or your new position could be pinching a nerve in your shoulders that is radiating to your hands.

You can try moving your saddle more forward or repositioning your handle bars up or down.
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Old 07-15-11, 02:01 PM
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Make your grip stronger:

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Old 07-15-11, 02:10 PM
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Numb hands has nothing do with hand strength or even handlebars for that matter. Strengthening your muscles will not help nerve inflammation which is what that numbness is. You have too much weight on your hands. That can be corrected.

Move your seat back. Yes, move it back. It makes sense and here is why.

Stand in front of a mirror sideways. Now bend over. What happens? Your rear end moves backward to counter balance your torso. If you bend over but don't move your rear end rearward you fall over on your face.

Well if you are on a bike and you don't move your rear end rearward to compensate for bending over, that pressure of falling forward ends up on your hands. Just a cm move rearward of the seat often has a dramatic effect. You should almost be able to lift your hands off of the bars without falling forward. There should be very light pressure on the bars.

That is also why you can move to a bike with handlebars that are actually higher than your old bike but if the seat if too far forward on the new bike you will have greater pressure on your hands.
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Old 07-15-11, 02:14 PM
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Moving your seat will mess up your knees and give you saddle sores.
Make your hands, wrists, and arms stronger.
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Old 07-15-11, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
Numb hands has nothing do with hand strength or even handlebars for that matter.
it did for me. as i mentioned before, when i first got my new bike i had hand numbing issues with just the single hand position flat bar that had crappy grips. then i put on significantly better grips and bar ends for more hand positions and voila, no more hand numbness.

Last edited by Steely Dan; 07-15-11 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 07-15-11, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Moving your seat will mess up your knees and give you saddle sores.
Make your hands, wrists, and arms stronger.
Wrong, wrong wrong...... Saddle sores have nothing to do with fore/aft position of the seat. Numbness has nothing to do with strength. It is a pinched nerve or lack of circulation. Being stronger will not help with the irritation of the myelin sheath of a nerve. And the safe fore/aft position of the seat has a wide range of acceptable settings. Think of the difference from a tri bike to a recumbant or a laid back geometry bike. As you can see there is a huge range of fore/aft positions..none of which screw up your knees.



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Old 07-15-11, 02:59 PM
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OK....I do know that in general I lose circulation quickly (had frost bite when I was a child.) I do not feel any pain, definitly nothing like I feel from repetitive movements (like extended typing, suturing, or knitting.) I don't even realize it's happening till I move my hands or grip the brakes and realize that my ring fingers are numb. The handle bars are low rise flat bar with ergonomic grips. I've never used any other type of handle bars except North Roads.
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Old 07-15-11, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
it did for me. as i mentioned before, when i first got my new bike i had hand numbing issues with just the single hand position flat bar that had crappy grips. then i put on significantly better grips and bar ends for more hand positions and voila, no more hand numbness.
More hand positions will help, and so will better gloves or grips...to a point. The primary cause however is that there was too much weight on your hands. And hands aren't designed to carry the weight of our bodies. Too much weight on crappy grips is certainly worse than on good grips, but it is the weight that is the core issue.
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Old 07-15-11, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
Numb hands has nothing do with hand strength or even handlebars for that matter. Strengthening your muscles will not help nerve inflammation which is what that numbness is. You have too much weight on your hands. That can be corrected.

Move your seat back. Yes, move it back. It makes sense and here is why.

Stand in front of a mirror sideways. Now bend over. What happens? Your rear end moves backward to counter balance your torso. If you bend over but don't move your rear end rearward you fall over on your face.

Well if you are on a bike and you don't move your rear end rearward to compensate for bending over, that pressure of falling forward ends up on your hands. Just a cm move rearward of the seat often has a dramatic effect. You should almost be able to lift your hands off of the bars without falling forward. There should be very light pressure on the bars.

That is also why you can move to a bike with handlebars that are actually higher than your old bike but if the seat if too far forward on the new bike you will have greater pressure on your hands.
10 Wheels, you might be discarding some of the best advice in this thread.

Hand numbness has nothing to do with strength, you can have the strongest arms and hands in the world and still get numbness if your nerves are pinched. The key is removing pressure from your hands by any means possible, and backing the seat up might just be the key to it.

I didn't believe it myself for a long time, but what slowandsteady is saying comes directly from Sheldon Brown I believe. I kept scooting my seat forward cause I thought that I was leaning too far forward and moving the seat up would get me more upright. My hand numbness got worse and I started getting back pain during intense climbs.

Then I found that bit up there, and I moved my seat back on the order of about four inches or more (yeah, I had it all the way forward by that point trying to fix the problem). It felt completely unnatural at first, but I found that my back pain was gone, and any time I was pedaling my hands were only just resting on the bars, they weren't supporting any weight. My legs and core were doing all the work but it didn't really feel like it. Numbness gone.

It's not a cure-all everyone, building core strength helps a lot too. Sure worked well in my case though. Wish I'd known to go back from the start.
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Old 07-15-11, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
More hand positions will help, and so will better gloves or grips...to a point. The primary cause however is that there was too much weight on your hands. And hands aren't designed to carry the weight of our bodies. Too much weight on crappy grips is certainly worse than on good grips, but it is the weight that is the core issue.
i generally prefer riding with some of my torso weight on my hands. when i got my road bike a year ago and lowered the bar to be about 3 below my saddle, i found a perfect comfort/posture zone there, but i do need to move my hands a round a lot, especially on longer rides. with my new hybrd, i wanted to get a similar type of ride posture, so l lowered the bars a bit, but the single hand position flat bar was no good. with some bar ends in the mix, i now have a couple more places for my hands to keeps things changed up.
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Old 07-15-11, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
Numb hands has nothing do with hand strength or even handlebars for that matter. Strengthening your muscles will not help nerve inflammation which is what that numbness is. You have too much weight on your hands. That can be corrected.

Move your seat back. Yes, move it back. It makes sense and here is why.

Stand in front of a mirror sideways. Now bend over. What happens? Your rear end moves backward to counter balance your torso. If you bend over but don't move your rear end rearward you fall over on your face.

Well if you are on a bike and you don't move your rear end rearward to compensate for bending over, that pressure of falling forward ends up on your hands. Just a cm move rearward of the seat often has a dramatic effect. You should almost be able to lift your hands off of the bars without falling forward. There should be very light pressure on the bars.

That is also why you can move to a bike with handlebars that are actually higher than your old bike but if the seat if too far forward on the new bike you will have greater pressure on your hands.

That balancing works while standing because all of your weight is supported by your feet. On a bicycle the split is about 30% feet, 20% hands and 50% saddle. Moving the saddle back will put more weight on the hands.
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Old 07-15-11, 05:06 PM
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I had the exact same thing happen & was able to get rid of the problem almost completely with a set of Ergon grips. There are also other knock-off brands, but Ergon is the original. Some of the knock offs work well, some do not. I consider them essential equipment for any flat bar bike that I buy.
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Old 07-15-11, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady View Post
Numb hands has nothing do with hand strength or even handlebars for that matter. Strengthening your muscles will not help nerve inflammation which is what that numbness is. You have too much weight on your hands. That can be corrected.

Move your seat back. Yes, move it back. It makes sense and here is why.

Stand in front of a mirror sideways. Now bend over. What happens? Your rear end moves backward to counter balance your torso. If you bend over but don't move your rear end rearward you fall over on your face.

Well if you are on a bike and you don't move your rear end rearward to compensate for bending over, that pressure of falling forward ends up on your hands. Just a cm move rearward of the seat often has a dramatic effect. You should almost be able to lift your hands off of the bars without falling forward. There should be very light pressure on the bars.

That is also why you can move to a bike with handlebars that are actually higher than your old bike but if the seat if too far forward on the new bike you will have greater pressure on your hands.
+1
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Old 07-15-11, 05:15 PM
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The other thing you can do is ride faster.

It wont eliminate the numbness, but it gives you something else to think about over.
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Old 07-15-11, 06:20 PM
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Do we have a winner? Sheesh... aren't we all humans in this forum? I mean... there are differences and all but in the end we are all bipedal (I hope) and subject to the same laws of physics. Whence comes so much divergent opinion? Advising someone to move their saddle back with no other proscription is irresponsible. There is a small range within which the leg and knee will be operating in the best relationship to apply power to the pedal. Fix that first, then go onto fix the hand pain. In general, people need to be more forward than they usually are. When you are reaching for the bars because you are too far back that is what will load your hands and knee's. Everyone knows too low a saddle will hurt your knee's. Did you know that a saddle too far back will do the same thing? The slackest seat angle and longest seat rails in the world won't put your butt far enough back that you can balance the weight of your torso. Unless you are sitting on a Dutch bike or work cycle with a bolt upright torso. If you have the usual 45* lean common to commuters, racers while up on the hoods or bar flats then you cannot possibly offset the weight of your head and torso by hanging your butt behind the crank center. Flat bars with 'L' shaped bar ends, bullhorns, trekker bars, etc. are all a step in the right direction. Bars close enough to the properly adjusted seat to allow the fingertips to reach the bars are another step in the right direction. Bars that are at least level with the seat or even higher, also going in the right direction to adjust hand pain. The o.p. is doing pretty good, after months of experimenting, I am just getting to where they are: numbness is only coming on towards the end of the ride. At the start of my commuting my hands couldn't operate the brakes or shifters by the first mile! By seat was way too far back and my bars too low and my stem too long. Adjustable stems are great for sorting out this kind of thing as are folding bikes. Why? Because folding bikes out of the box are designed to fit people from 5'2 to 6'4 and do it quickly. All the adjustments can be made by flipping quick release skewers... except seat fore/aft. That is handy when experimenting with different parameters. Then when its all dialed in you put the folder next to your other bikes (I have 5 in all) and see how they fetch up. FWIW.

H
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Old 07-15-11, 07:34 PM
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Wow. pretty broad range of opinions. I do have the ergonomic grips on already (like ergon but without barends) and I do wear gloves, though I am wearing my lighter gloves since it is hot and humid right now. I can't imagine moving the seat back, in all honesty, because I think I am already sitting farther forward on it than I should be (I'm not sitting centered on it.) I think my seat may not be level also (pondering yesterday's ride) so I may fiddle with leveling it and see if that helps, then adjusting it fore and aft. I don't have hand's of steel or anything, but I do spend a good part of my day wrestling with livestock and performing procedures that require strong fingers and grippng power, so I don't see myself really strengthening my hands anymore (and students in medicine are discouraged from highly repeptitive activities like single motion grip trainers....no reason to promote the inevitable repetitive hand injuries that eventually come with the job.) I'm going to also keep an eye on my position and make sure I'm not somehow dropping my wrists, which would put pressure on several nerves. If that doens't help, I'll look at finding some alternative grips. I do appreciate everyone's thoughts. I might see if I can turn anything up in the sports physiology literature if I get time.
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Old 07-15-11, 09:35 PM
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I have a set of these gloves. It is my 3rd set of gloves that I have tried and they have been the most comfortable:

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Old 07-15-11, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sunstorm View Post
Wow. pretty broad range of opinions. I do have the ergonomic grips on already (like ergon but without barends) and I do wear gloves, though I am wearing my lighter gloves since it is hot and humid right now. I can't imagine moving the seat back, in all honesty, because I think I am already sitting farther forward on it than I should be (I'm not sitting centered on it.) I think my seat may not be level also (pondering yesterday's ride) so I may fiddle with leveling it and see if that helps, then adjusting it fore and aft. I don't have hand's of steel or anything, but I do spend a good part of my day wrestling with livestock and performing procedures that require strong fingers and grippng power, so I don't see myself really strengthening my hands anymore (and students in medicine are discouraged from highly repeptitive activities like single motion grip trainers....no reason to promote the inevitable repetitive hand injuries that eventually come with the job.) I'm going to also keep an eye on my position and make sure I'm not somehow dropping my wrists, which would put pressure on several nerves. If that doens't help, I'll look at finding some alternative grips. I do appreciate everyone's thoughts. I might see if I can turn anything up in the sports physiology literature if I get time.


If your seat is tilted forward that could be the problem causing you to put more weight on your hands. You could try tilting it up very slightly (too much and you will have pain where you don't want to have pain).
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Old 07-15-11, 10:22 PM
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If you have ergon-like grips, experiment with tilting them slightly up or down when you ride. You'll eventually find your perfect spot. That really should cut out almost all of the numbness in your hands.
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Old 07-15-11, 11:21 PM
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The only time I get numb hands is if I am wearing my backpack and have a heavier load in it.
Are you using a backpack?
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