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Numb hands when touring

Old 08-08-12, 03:54 AM
  #1  
azesty
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Numb hands when touring

I have been on the go for about 2000 km so far.

I have ridden the last 7 days, and while I have only done 695 km in those 7 days, it has been a lot of time in the saddle as I have had some rough roads, and a climb of 3000 m in the first three days.

My hands tingle at times, and I take them off the handlebars, generally one at a time, and flex them until they feel good.

However, they have been getting weaker by the day, particularly the left (I am left handed). Last night, after 6 days, I had trouble using chopsticks, which can be a problem in China.

I have a Surly LHT, with Nitto butterfly bars. I have two layers of cheap padded handlebar tape and a layer of Brooks leather over the top.

Any ideas?

I have two more days to do, though it is flat now that I am out in the desert, and then I will have a day off.

z
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Old 08-08-12, 07:22 AM
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As long as you've been changing hand positions frequently, no advice on prevention. Seems you've got the optimal set up. The worry is the increasing weakness in your hands. As it is becoming a serious concern, I'd park the bike for a few days. Give those nerves a rest.

Strangly, I get hand tingling riding my bent, no pressure at all. Not as bad of course as when I was on an upright. Guess it has something to do with wrist angle.
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Old 08-08-12, 07:23 AM
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I am no expert on touring but I do know physical therapy. I would recommend changing hand position often, doing flexing exercises like you described, icing your wrists/hands whenever possible, and elevating above your heart while riding to keep blood from pooling. Could be signs of Carpal Tunnel or Arthritis especially since your primary hand is more affected and it gets the most use. Hope this helps.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:59 AM
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Move hands and exercise fingers as suggested. You also might want to tape some foam on your bars, or add more padding to your gloves

Here's a link that might help.

BTW: I had that problem and alleviated it by building my bike so I ride in a more upright position.

Last edited by BigAura; 08-08-12 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:20 AM
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cannot hold anything in your dominant hand?

not exaggerating?

if nerve damage has made 1 hand lose all feeling,

call the trip over, or a long break and go to a hospital E Room.

they still have any Maoist socialized medicine there?

I used a Randonneur bend bar , long ramps , under the tape I put

Grip Shape lumps from 'off the front', so as to have a broader-flat
surface to lay my hands.. primarily the upper curve..

that .. and the seat / bars weight balance for my upper body,
seemed to sort this out ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-19-12 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:24 AM
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Raise the handlebar a bit if you can (if you left any extra steerer). This will shift weight off hands, elbows and shoulders, but more on feet and seat.

If you have no steerer tube left, then a steeper stem could raise the bar perhaps an inch. Just pick one up at the next LBS, I'm sure there's one on every corner out in Central Asia.

Last edited by seeker333; 08-08-12 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:07 PM
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Azesty: Good to hear your trip is going well overall in spite of some physical hiccups. I believe you use a Brooks B-17 based on your packing list from earlier this year. Is the leather still a little slippery? Brooks saddles can be tricky to set up right. You may be unconsciouly sliding forward on your saddle which might be putting too much pressure on your hands. A way to test this is to ride on the hoods (upper portion on your trekking bars) and try to remove both hands off the handlebar a little. If you feel your body moving/sliding forward on the saddle as you do this, it means that you are imbalanced. Try to raise the tip of the saddle until you feel completely balanced (being able to lift your hands without sliding forward) and without causing any discomfort to your private area (it's a fine line!) Play also with raising the handlebar a little. Between raising the tip of the saddle and the handlebar, you should be able to find comfort for long distance riding. If you think you've caused some injury (too much pain) do rest from riding for a while.

Getting professional fitting I'm sure is out of the question given where you are in the world.

If you find a solution to your pain, please report back. I'm sure it will help others.

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 08-08-12 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:07 PM
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Being totally unhelpful, that's why road bars look like they do and why some of us combine them with clip-on aerobars. On topic, yes you need to rest your hands. At least one day off, probably more. Good chance it's nerve damage, and sometimes nerve damage isn't completely reversible. This is serious.

There's a good chance that different gloves will help. Look for cycling gloves with a slot in the middle of the heel of the hand which has no padding. I always carry at least two pair of slightly different gloves and rotate them.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:34 PM
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Change the angle of the handlebars.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:35 PM
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Are you certain your saddle setback is adequate? I'd slide the saddle back 5mm then remeasure your saddle height and make adjustments there. I'd be surprised if this doesn't improve your hand issues.
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Old 08-08-12, 08:01 PM
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Start putting more of your weight into the pedals than the handlebars. ;-)
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Old 08-08-12, 08:32 PM
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Thanks all for your suggestions!

@Cyclebum, I tilted my shifters and brakes around the bar to change wrist angle early on, and that did make a difference.

@BigAura, thanks for the link, seeing the nerves makes a difference, I will know better how to deal with it.

@seeker333, Havent seen a bike shop out here, and all the bikes I see are old Chinese bikes, and their headstems will not attach to a LHT without welding. Further, most bike shops in China sell bikes. Maybe helmets, maybe maybe gloves. Tools? nope. Parts? nope.

@Chris Pringle, Brooks is now 15,000 km old, little polish left on it. I think it is set up as well as I can get it. I travelled with the allen keys for adjusting it in my handlebar bag for the first week and kept tweaking it. It is as far back as it can go. Yep, nobody here would be able to fit it for me.

@Carbonfibreboy, I have two pair of gloves, and I scoured Chengdu (a city of 11 million) for good bike gloves and couldnt find much. The pair I have are not bad but dont have much padding.

Will have a day off today, then put my foot down for 700 km to get to Kashgar where I am told there is a decent bike shop. Nobody there will be that good at fitting bikes to people, and they probably wont have better gloves than I have. However, there should be a large number of experienced bike tourists there, going both ways along the Silk Road, and I might be able to get some help. I will have at least a week off there as my Kyrgyzstan visa doesnt start until Aug 27.


Thanks for all your help

z
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Old 08-08-12, 10:05 PM
  #13  
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I'd wager you could improve your current gloves. Have a look at this article:
https://uwnmbl.engr.wisc.edu/asb2010/abstracts/177.pdf
You could put 1/8" thick moleskin, the heavy stuff, right on your hands as shown in this article, then carefully pull your gloves on over it. You might be able to find something like that in a drugstore. You'd need a pair of scissors. This would totally be worth experimenting with.

More info:
https://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/...-injuries.html
Here's a flash animation that clearly shows the sort of padding that's recommended:
https://www.specialized.com/bc/micros...tions/fig2.swf

I was wrong about the time off - they say 2-4 weeks to get better, some say 6-8 weeks. I think the idea of taking NSAIDs might be a good one. Reducing inflammation should also reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve.
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Old 08-09-12, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I'd wager you could improve your current gloves. Have a look at this article:
https://uwnmbl.engr.wisc.edu/asb2010/abstracts/177.pdf
You could put 1/8" thick moleskin, the heavy stuff, right on your hands as shown in this article, then carefully pull your gloves on over it. You might be able to find something like that in a drugstore. You'd need a pair of scissors. This would totally be worth experimenting with.

More info:
https://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/...-injuries.html
Here's a flash animation that clearly shows the sort of padding that's recommended:
https://www.specialized.com/bc/micros...tions/fig2.swf

I was wrong about the time off - they say 2-4 weeks to get better, some say 6-8 weeks. I think the idea of taking NSAIDs might be a good one. Reducing inflammation should also reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve.
The above are great suggestions!

This really resonates with me because temporary nerve damage forced me to end my tour way too soon. One thing really helped: I had a riser installed to have the handlebars raised nearly 3 inches. The seat-pedal distance was fine, but I was stretched too far to truly be comfortable (female-short torso). I couldnīt move my hands at all. Eventually, I had no feeling in the left hand and couldnīt shift or even brake. A trip to the ER was needed. It took a lot of anti-inflammation meds and 8 weeks before I could get back on the bike. As the poster mentioned above, well padded gloves really helped, too.

Until you can make some changes, just keep flexing your hands, move your position, and even get off the bike, if necessary, so that you donīt let it get to the point of numbness.

Good luck.
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Old 08-09-12, 03:37 PM
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I'd suggest that you ride for a day without any gloves. have found in the past that padding can aggravate my finger-tingle because it tends to squish all the nerve through the hand.

I've also found that the stitching on some of the gloves I've has cut across the nerve through my hand. That's why I am suggesting you might ride for a day without gloves to see if this is an issue.

Rough roads are always going to cause an issue. What pressure are you running the front tyre? Can it go any lower? Try to relax your hands on the grips as much as possible, rather than clamping tight, which is a normal reaction on rough sections.

Finally, follow Chris Pringle's procedure on checking to see if you can lift both hands off the handlebars when coasting, without feeling if you are slipping forward on the seat. Pressure on the hands indicates that there is something amiss in your saddle fit, and often if can be only a centimetre out.
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Old 08-09-12, 04:10 PM
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For those using flat bars - Ergon Grips (I have GR2's) did it for me.
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Old 08-09-12, 06:46 PM
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For those new to forum, you can follow the OP's tour here:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=267089&v=AN
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Old 08-09-12, 07:14 PM
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Try shaking out your hands or use some cold water to wake them up.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:03 PM
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Am halfway through my second day off.

The roads I traveled over the last 7 days were rough, with long unpaved sections. I spent hours going downhill at 20 km per hour over sections so rough at times that my eyes were shaking so much that I couldn't see the road properly.

Tomorrow I start another 6 or 7 day section, depending on wind mostly. I will try to spend as much time with my thumbs hooked over the outside edges of my touring bars.

After this section I have a rest until about the 25th of August as my Kyrgyzstan visa doesn't start until the 27th.


Thanks again for the help.

z
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Old 08-10-12, 05:25 AM
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Adjust your seat forward 1 cm...
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Old 08-10-12, 06:54 AM
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I used to have terrible problems with numbness in my hands from cycling, so much that I considered buy a recumbent. I tried more padding on my handlebars, moving my hands around more often, and strengthening core muscles. However, the only thing that worked for me was raising the height of my handlebars. When I finally tried that -- raising my handlebars to the same height as my saddle -- the problem went away almost immediately and it's never bothered me since.
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Old 08-11-12, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by azesty View Post
I have been on the go for about 2000 km so far.

I have ridden the last 7 days, and while I have only done 695 km in those 7 days, it has been a lot of time in the saddle as I have had some rough roads, and a climb of 3000 m in the first three days.

My hands tingle at times, and I take them off the handlebars, generally one at a time, and flex them until they feel good.

However, they have been getting weaker by the day, particularly the left (I am left handed). Last night, after 6 days, I had trouble using chopsticks, which can be a problem in China.

I have a Surly LHT, with Nitto butterfly bars. I have two layers of cheap padded handlebar tape and a layer of Brooks leather over the top.

Any ideas?

I have two more days to do, though it is flat now that I am out in the desert, and then I will have a day off.

z
Have gone down to Miami a couple of times & ridden a Dahon folder w/straight bars that I'm not used to. Even with no hills & mostly smooth surfaces got unpleasant hand tingle after 1 hour of riding. Adding handlebar-end extensions didn't help much. But you're situation is different what with many km's under the belt. I dunno but cycling can tighten up muscles & joints, perhaps stretching and yoga might help?
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Old 08-11-12, 02:12 PM
  #23  
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I had the same problem til I switched to a recumbant
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Old 08-12-12, 04:11 AM
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Well I did two days riding after two days off.

Day 1 5 hours 44 mins, spread out over the day with a long gap in the middle

Day 2 6 hours 4 minutes, mostly short breaks all day.

My hands are not great, but not as bad as they were. I think the problem was the really rough day about 2 weeks ago. I spent 7 1/2 hours riding, mostly on very rough roads with an average of 12.1 kmph. There were about 4 hours of that that were downhill on roads so rough that two bolts rattled loose, and I broke the band that holds my waterbottle in.

I will have tomorrow off, then start a 4 day slog across the desert to Kashgar where I will have more than a week off.

Thanks for all your help

z
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Old 08-12-12, 08:14 AM
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Here's another vote for a more upright posture. I moved my bars in and up, and have had zero problems since.
Also, what helps me is, as often as possible, to sit upright and steer with just my fingertips. The light pressure lets my hands, wrist, and elbows relax and stretch out.
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