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One hand goes numb

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

One hand goes numb

Old 12-01-13, 02:15 AM
  #1  
aaronmcd
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One hand goes numb

So, the guy with the knee pain got so much advice, I thought I'd try for my hand.

This usually happens while racing, or a really hard group ride. Only while in the drops, and usually while wearing gloves. It is only my right hand that goes numb. I let go and shake it to get blood flowing again, but unless I ride hoods or take the gloves off it goes numb again. I don't think gloves are supposed to make the hands numb. I only wear gloves if it's cold. I prefer bare hands for comfort and sensitivity.

It's really annoying. I have to brake front only sometimes, and look down to shift because I can't find the shift lever by feel.

I should say this happens at harder efforts in a fast moving peloton. The front brake is fine for feathering, but I am afraid if I have to make a sudden stop I might miss the lever.
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Old 12-01-13, 07:51 AM
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Two things come to mind. First, your right hand is doing virtually all the shifting and this would usually require your right wrist/hand position to be quite different from the opposite hand. Second, depending upon the specific ergonomics of your handlebars, your wrist/hand may not be in a neutral position when in the drops; this could cause the glove pads (I assume your gloves are padded) to actually apply more pressure to one of the nerve paths. I've also found gloves that are a bit tight to cause numbness which could be exacerbated by the different position of the right hand versus left.
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Old 12-01-13, 09:39 AM
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A couple of additional thoughts. First, you may have more of a death grip on the bars than you realize when you're in these situations (group rides or races I assume) - consider trying to deliberately loosen your grip a little. The other point is that you may have more weight on your hands than you realize. If you can maintain a light grip on the bars when you're in the drops without using your arms to support your torso (your core should be doing more if that) you might stave off the numbness in your hand.
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Old 12-01-13, 09:49 AM
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Wearing a watch or bracelet?
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Old 12-01-13, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
Two things come to mind. First, your right hand is doing virtually all the shifting and this would usually require your right wrist/hand position to be quite different from the opposite hand. Second, depending upon the specific ergonomics of your handlebars, your wrist/hand may not be in a neutral position when in the drops; this could cause the glove pads (I assume your gloves are padded) to actually apply more pressure to one of the nerve paths. I've also found gloves that are a bit tight to cause numbness which could be exacerbated by the different position of the right hand versus left.
+1 wrist angle while in the drops may be to severe, are you having to cock your wrists at an acute angle, this could be affecting the carpal tunnel and causing nerve compression
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Old 12-01-13, 11:18 AM
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There are two ways of looking at this.
1. Wearing gloves at certain wrist angles cuts off the circulation in your hand (likely)
or
2. We as humans are endowed with a beautiful redundancy...use your other hand.
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Old 12-01-13, 11:35 AM
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I'd probably just try changing gloves, selecting another pair with either no padding or different pad placement.
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Old 12-01-13, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
Two things come to mind. First, your right hand is doing virtually all the shifting and this would usually require your right wrist/hand position to be quite different from the opposite hand. Second, depending upon the specific ergonomics of your handlebars, your wrist/hand may not be in a neutral position when in the drops; this could cause the glove pads (I assume your gloves are padded) to actually apply more pressure to one of the nerve paths. I've also found
gloves that are a bit tight to cause numbness which could be exacerbated by the different position of the right hand versus left.
Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
A couple of additional thoughts. First, you may have more of a death grip on the bars than you realize when you're in these situations (group rides or races I assume) - consider trying to deliberately loosen your grip a little. The other point is that you may have more weight on your hands than you realize. If you can maintain a light grip on the bars when you're in the drops without using your arms to support your torso (your core should be doing more if that) you might stave off the numbness in your hand.
This!


A slight adjustment may be in order.
Have you been fitted, & have you been back to tune it?
Sometimes after we ride a while, our bodies becomes stronger, & it throws our fit off a bit.

Last edited by Ghost Ryder; 12-01-13 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 12-01-13, 01:22 PM
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It could be wrist angle to shift. I do a lot more shifting in a group ride or race when I have to keep responding and keep just the right cadence. I probably have to turn my wrist a bit to get the levers if I am not deep in the drops to get my arms inline with the reach to the lever. I don't like the padding, but I didn't see any gloves without pads (and I didn't consider that the padding could be making this worse.

Not sure there is much I can do about the angle except bend my arms more. I can't lower the levers or I won't have good hood placement. The death grip might also be an issue, as I am new to racing. I don't need much weight on my hands, but may be subconsciously leaning harder on them in these situations.
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Old 12-01-13, 01:58 PM
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One think I've learned from Tom Danielson's book is, that pain in one part of the body is often caused
by problems in another area of the body.
For example, knots (trigger points) in your back, are a result of overstretching in the back and tightness in the chest. Really general example, but I would highly recommend his book, Core Advantage.
Another example: I had Plantar Fasciitis in my foot, but after I began a stretching regime in my calf, it almost entirely eliminated the foot issue.
Best to think of everthing as a chain, and problems in one link are related to something further along in the chain.
Good luck with your issue.

S
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Old 12-01-13, 06:20 PM
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I have more numbness in my R hand than on the L hand as well.
I wonder if it has anything to do with how roadways are crowned.
Looking at some action photos my R shoulder is hunched differently from the L. Other members of my club also do this.
I think the R hand is bearing more weight than the L.

I have an assortment of bike glove models and styles. Some do better avoiding numb hands than others but none are perfect.

I need to shake my hands out at least every 15 minutes.

I never had problems with hand numbness when I had the old-style downtube friction shifters on my steel 10-speed, but in those days I rode much less and it was on smoother surfaces and I was lighter.

My neurologist ran a nerve conduction test on me. I have permanent damage to the ulnar nerve both hands.
The nerve damage begins at the wrist and is worse on the R hand.
My worst episode of neuropathy required 2 weeks off the bike to regain normal function (opening a door, holding eating implements, being able to operate a zipper or button clothing).
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Old 12-01-13, 06:40 PM
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Keeping one's arms straight with elbows locked often causes numbness in the hands. Reason: the arteries supplying blood flow to the hands route through the elbow joint. Locking that joint decreases blood flow, causing the numbness. Find a way to keep your arms even slightly bent, and you should find relief, or at least delay or minimize the numbness.
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Old 12-01-13, 06:54 PM
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Locking the elbows also prevents them from working as shock absorbers, causing the wrists and shoulders to take more of a beating. I used to have this problem, and wondered why my left shoulder ached, and my left hand always went numb, "even though I was wearing gloves"! Nowadays, I go for minimal padding in my bars and gloves, so that I get the cue to wiggle my elbows and shift my hands around sooner.

It also helps that I need to move my hands to shift. I would imagine that lots of new road bike riders these days just plant their hands on the hoods and never move them.
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Old 12-01-13, 07:44 PM
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I definitely don't lock my elbows while riding. On a slolo ride I often place my hands lower on the drops, or the corners of the tops. I'm pretty sure now that it has to do with my position while I have my fingers on the levers for a long time. I just rode today solo, but was thinking about this. I might consider turning the levers in slightly, so the reach to the outside of the levers doesn't cause my wrist to turn out. They are straight off the front currently.
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Old 12-01-13, 08:13 PM
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things I'd consider
of course the 1st thing is to ride with various other gloves and see if that partially or fully mitigates the problem.
next I would consider how you grip the bars. I almost never ride gripping the flat section of the drop. Gripping the drop allows you to then put a lot of weight - more weight on the bars than you should. The bars are there for steering, not any appreciable weight support. Weight is supported by the saddle and is also countered by the pressure you put to the pedals. When I'm in the drops, the pace is usually hard, and I'm not spinning an easy gear. The pedal stroke pressure becomes more than enough to support a lot of weight. The bars are best when with minimal weight (except on technical descents...)
I keep my hands on the lower section of the bends. If a tighter grip, the weight/pressure is bridged in the 'v' between the thumb/forfinger and the meaty outside of the palm; not the center of the hand, where the nerves and blood vessels go. Lighter grip is a little further forward on the knuckle of the forefinger and again the meaty outside of the palm.
Given that, what is the shape of your bars? Ergo bars are just not right.

that flat section almost forces the entire center of the hand to contact the bar. The ones with the funky bump in the center of the angle are even worse. Of course many like these bars, these are one of the modern things I dislike the most. Thankfully traditional bend bars have made a big comback.
Bar position. Again, bars are for steering and handling, not for driving your upper body weight into. If your bars are too far back, the tendency is to press weight down into the drop. Having the bar a little more forward, relieves that weight (again weight supported by saddle and pedal pressure), easing the weight into the shoulders and improving the handling/steering.
Way too many riders are tripoding their torso weight on the bars, no wonder they hurt...
I won;t go into my litany of bending elbows down and relaxing/dropping the shoulders down.
Bad

Good

Front rider good, back rider bad

the classic position - henk lubberding - a good read
https://gerard.cc/2011/07/26/2-points-lubberding/
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Old 12-01-13, 10:21 PM
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I had trouble with one shoulder and arm for a while. I finally figured out it was a muscular imbalance, something to do with being right-handed. Gym and core work fixed that. I also had trouble with my right hand one year. That was from shifting: it just got tired. The cure was a whole lot more time on that bike.
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