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Hands go to sleep while Biking

Old 05-15-22, 06:32 PM
  #1  
Tstelko
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Hands go to sleep while Biking

Not sure why my hands start to tingle and basically go to sleep while biking. I assume itís a circulation issue but wondering how to minimize the issue.
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Old 05-15-22, 07:15 PM
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too much pressure on the hands and particularly the carpal tunnel, which contains critical nerves. probably not really a “circulation” issue.

your weight should mostly be on your feet, then your butt, and then your hands. core strength and good posture/technique can help with this but a bike that fits you well is also important.

I have this issue intermittently in my left hand, but it’s much improved with practice, exercise, a bike fit, and awareness of my posture. if you have drop bars, use all the positions, move your hands around, etc.
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Old 05-15-22, 09:00 PM
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Google "numb hands while cycling."

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Old 05-15-22, 09:46 PM
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Our hands are fully capable of supporting a considerable amount of weight for long periods of time IF we take care to not pressure several areas with nerves and veins. (Look at the pros. They have a lot of weight on their hands, especially on the very long races where they ride many miles not all that hard and therefor do not have their legs relieving hand pressure.) I am tall and skinny. I like riding relatively fast for long distances, sometimes upwind. To do that, I have my handlebars forward and low.. Weight on them is a fact of my riding life. But issues (other than calluses and wearing out gloves) isn't - as long as I set my handlebars up to work with my hands.

First comment - you do not say what your handlebars are. Dropped (road racing style)? Straight or near straight? Mountain bike? Another shape? Many of us love the dropped handlebar because it offers so many options on where and how to place your hands. Several very different positions all give good access to brakes and gears. (There are many however who set their dropped handlebar bikes up so that one or more options are not feasible.)

My setup routine is to leave the handlebars bare. Only tape is electrical tape to secure the cables. I go for one or more rides with all the wrenches to adjust the stem, the rotation of the handlebars and the position of the brake levers. Before leaving, I mark the settings with tape. Stop and tweak any time I feel there is room for improvement. Observe how my hands feel after the ride. Edit: I do not tape the bars until I feel everything is right. And even then, that first tape job is cloth tape wrapped from the bottom so I can unwind the tape, move the brake levers and rewrap. The good stuff doesn't go on until that cloth is worn out and I know I like what I've got.

Over time, my body has changed. Though I got "the fit" 45 years ago, periodically I have to start over as I start having issues that weren't there before. (Aging sucks. I don't recommend it. I blew my chance at immortality.) With my last round of bare bar riding, I found that rotating the bars down so the brake hoods also went down improves my numbness during and after rides a lot. My bikes now look odd, but my hands no longer have issues..

I highly doubt my solution will help you at all. You need to find what works for you. Try wrapping your hands around the handlebars of other bikes, perhaps at a bike shop. See what feels good or natural. Go for a "bare bars" ride or two. Try things. Different handlebars can be very different. Moving brake hood locations can make radical changes in how your hands feel. (You may need to compensate by raising or lowering your stem/spacers to get different hand fits while not changing your overall position on the bike.)

If you ride with others, ask those with long experience to check your riding style and offer comments. Don't take these as "the law". Just take them as more information, some of which might be very useful. And above all - keep an open mind! Listen to your body! The "answer" is out there. You have to be open enough to see it when it comes.

Welcome to BF! Stick around, ask questions and don't take anybody's posts personally.

Last edited by 79pmooney; 05-15-22 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:46 PM
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Story time, my father had an old Jamis Aurora and just a year ago I restored it back to life for him since I was working at a bike shop for a brief stint. He rides that bike again and says his wrists get tingly after 5 minutes, we have him try a new Jamis Hudson with a much more upright geometry, and really just apples and oranges in terms of feel. He got the new bike and gave me the old Aurora! I have high hopes for that build as I plan on completely stripping the paint and starting from scratch. It'll be my first attempt at a full scale custom paint job and full part assembly but I am really looking forward to starting here soon.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:50 PM
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I gave up on my cycling gloves and ended up with anti-vibration gloves and they have helped especially in the hand with more arthritis.
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Old 05-15-22, 11:31 PM
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Hands and other parts can get numb while cycling. A good position, good bar tape, and good gloves help, but do not eliminate numbness. The good thing about drop bars or bar ends is that they allow you to change the position of your hands.
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Old 05-16-22, 12:09 AM
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Sounds like to much pressure on your hands. It could be that your top tube is too long for you. If possible, raise you stem/bars 1cm or so.
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Old 05-16-22, 06:49 AM
  #9  
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Gloves can help. What kind of handlebar do you use? One with multiple hand positions (i.e. a "drop" bar or a flat bar with extensions) allows you to change the pressure points on your hands while you ride.
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Old 05-16-22, 07:06 AM
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Often excess pressure on the hands is made worse because of the saddle adjustment. If the saddle is 'nose down' (as viewed from the side) it will result in the rider's weight trying to slide forward and the hands are subconsciously used to brace against this. A saddle that is 'level' or even slightly 'nose up' will fix this. If level or nose up are uncomfortable, then try a saddle with a different shape.
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Old 05-16-22, 07:19 AM
  #11  
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What's been said, above, as well as my supplemental favorite remedy: Ergon GP2 grips!

https://www.ergonbike.com/en/article-gp1.html

That said, I ride an old mtb with non-drop bars....
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Old 05-16-22, 08:42 AM
  #12  
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How long are you riding before they start to tingle? What kind of bike and what size? What is your height and inseam? Are you physically fit otherwise or sit at a desk all day long?
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Old 05-16-22, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tstelko View Post
Not sure why my hands start to tingle and basically go to sleep while biking. I assume itís a circulation issue but wondering how to minimize the issue.
Something you can do right away is be aware of the onset of numbness and change positions immediately. If you do that, you can restore feeling very quickly and never get to the stage where it takes a long time for the numbness to fade. In the longer term, work on core strength so that you are not just leaning on the bars.
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Old 05-16-22, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug View Post
I gave up on my cycling gloves and ended up with anti-vibration gloves and they have helped especially in the hand with more arthritis.
This did get me thinking. The worst numbness and tingling happens when I use an orbital sander for a period of time. Iím standing with little weight on my hand.

Obviously not the same vibration you get from riding, but I can understand how a constant vibration if only one hand position is primarily employed can have and effect even if the bike fit is perfect.

John
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Old 05-16-22, 09:41 AM
  #15  
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I'm glad nobody yet has mentioned "shaking it out". Terrible advice.
In my experience most hand numbness is caused by inflammation of the nerve tunnels. Carpal, Ulna, all the way up to your C-spine vertebrae.
I've been fighting this through repetitive stress for decades even before taking up cycling again. Interesting that different fingers can be affected between Carpal and Ulnar tunnels. If whole hand/wrist, possible all the way to your neck if vertebrae are inflamed. Which adjusting to more upright as we get older is seen.
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Old 05-16-22, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
How long are you riding before they start to tingle? What kind of bike and what size? What is your height and inseam? Are you physically fit otherwise or sit at a desk all day long?
From another post: The OP appears to be riding a 1990's rigid Nishiki mountain bike with very straight bars. No choices for different hand positions
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Old 05-16-22, 10:28 AM
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If straight bars, then almost certainly I will say that you are not keeping your wrists straight. You are letting your wrists roll downward and your hands are angled upward in the same position that gives computer users carpal tunnel when they stay on the keyboard too long.

Just like for the keyboard use, the top of your hands need to be in the same plane as the top of your forearms. No bend in the wrist!

Get some other bars too! Anything but straight bars.
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Old 05-16-22, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Tstelko View Post
Not sure why my hands start to tingle and basically go to sleep while biking. I assume itís a circulation issue but wondering how to minimize the issue.
Of course I will catch hell for this but----------------------------It doesnt happen on recumbent bikes and trikes.

But then if you are a mountain biker, you will pretty much have to live with it.
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Old 05-16-22, 10:57 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
if you are a mountain biker, you will pretty much have to live with it.
Wrong (again).
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Old 05-16-22, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
How long are you riding before they start to tingle? What kind of bike and what size? What is your height and inseam? Are you physically fit otherwise or sit at a desk all day long?
At least 5 miles, but only if I'm knowingly/unknowingly tense.

Trek 800 Sport (intro level mtb) 18" frame.

5'11", 30 inches.

Physically fit for a 61 yr old. I don't get "gassed" till about 30-40 miles of street/MUP with mild to moderate hills.

Edit: before switching to Ergons, had generic round rubber grips. Without the flat platform, would get tingling sensations after just a few miles.

Last edited by Digger Goreman; 05-16-22 at 03:09 PM. Reason: additional information
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Old 05-16-22, 01:26 PM
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Every time I see the thread title I read it as "How to go to sleep while Biking."
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Old 05-16-22, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Every time I see the thread title I read it as "How to go to sleep while Biking."
I have done this. (Not recommended)
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Old 05-16-22, 01:52 PM
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I suspect a LOT of hand numbness/pain issues are entirely about fit. And it's not always obvious what the issue is. I got a bike two years ago, and after carefully setting the saddle height and setback to match my other bikes, I took it for a ride. My hands kept going numb, which they never did on the other bikes. The bars were an inch HIGHER on the new bike than the others. I lowered them to match, and the numbness went away completely. Another example - I refitted a bike last week, putting an all new groupset and a new saddle on it. I was having some discomfort in my hands during a short, 25 mile 'shakedown' ride. I spent some time carefully measuring the bike against my others. The saddle was lower and farther back, and the STI levers were tilted up. When I adjusted all of that, and went for a 55 mile ride yesterday, and no hand discomfort.

So, it's not simply a matter of 'more upright'. It's the overall fit - how much weight is on your hands, the angle of the wrist as they rest on the bars, what part of the hand bears the weight, etc. and it could be the bars are fine and your butt needs to be higher!
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Old 05-16-22, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
i suspect a lot of hand numbness/pain issues are entirely about fit. And it's not always obvious what the issue is. I got a bike two years ago, and after carefully setting the saddle height and setback to match my other bikes, i took it for a ride. My hands kept going numb, which they never did on the other bikes. The bars were an inch higher on the new bike than the others. I lowered them to match, and the numbness went away completely. Another example - i refitted a bike last week, putting an all new groupset and a new saddle on it. I was having some discomfort in my hands during a short, 25 mile 'shakedown' ride. I spent some time carefully measuring the bike against my others. The saddle was lower and farther back, and the sti levers were tilted up. When i adjusted all of that, and went for a 55 mile ride yesterday, and no hand discomfort.

So, it's not simply a matter of 'more upright'. It's the overall fit - how much weight is on your hands, the angle of the wrist as they rest on the bars, what part of the hand bears the weight, etc. And it could be the bars are fine and your butt needs to be higher!
+1
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Old 05-16-22, 02:57 PM
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Wear good padded gloves and change your hand positions often. If you have a bike with flat handlebars (like a mountain bike), bar ends are essential, IMO.
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