numb hands

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Prhymeate
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Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:25 pm

numb hands

Postby Prhymeate » Tue Feb 19, 2013 17:55 pm

I started road cycling in June although I have ridden mtb before. Lately I've been trying to up my ride distance to 40-50 miles rather than the usual 25-30. The last couple of times I've been out my left hand/arm has felt a bit numb towards the end of the ride. It stays that way for the rest of the day and sometimes continues to the next. Most of my hand is fine, but if I try to push with my little finger it feels so weak.

When I first started riding a road bike, my left elbow would ache after a while but that seems to have gone. Is this something that I should wait and see if it fades away? Is it possible I'm subconsciously putting more weight on my left arm? It's not from the cold and my right hand is always fine.

Thanks for any advice.

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Finlaz22
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Re: numb hands

Postby Finlaz22 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 18:49 pm

A good pair of cycling gloves might help - as in ones with good padding. It could also be made worse because of the cold - poorer circulation and all that. Also try flexing and extending your arms now and then on the longer ride - prevents muscles cramping up a little. Hope this helps!

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SadlyBiggins
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Re: numb hands

Postby SadlyBiggins » Tue Feb 19, 2013 19:06 pm

I have had this before in the little and ring fingers on my left hand. As well as decent gloves, it could be that your saddle height/layback is making you lean on the bars too much. Since I raised my saddle, the numbness has not recurred. Do you feel as if you're leaning forward too much and have you checked saddle height/layback?

djm501
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Re: numb hands

Postby djm501 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 20:20 pm

Better handlebar tape may help too. Specialized Bar Phat 4 mm - your hands will love you.

Be careful though- this is a route to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries- if it really persists get your bike fit sorted out properly. Doing some sit ups and improving your core muscles will help too.

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marcusjb
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Re: numb hands

Postby marcusjb » Tue Feb 19, 2013 22:34 pm

As well as fit/position on the bike, you can also make quite a lot of impact on hand comfort by changing your behaviour on the bike.

Make sure you move your hands around regularly - spend some time on the flats, then a bit on the hoods etc.

(As per finlazz22's suggestion) Take one hand off the bars and give it a shake and a stretch behind, then do the other (or if you are super cool, ride no handed doing stretches).

Alternate hands for eating and drinking. I am strongly right hand dominant, so most wrist/hand issues I have tend to be in my left hand as that is the one I have to support myself with when I drink.

Core strength excercise is very good for all areas of cycling comfort, so well worth doing. If you are supporting your body better, the impact on your hands will be lessened.

I lost feeling in both hands (little and ring finger) for a period of many months when I first rode a 400km. Since then, I had a bike fit, learnt how to look after myself better on the bike and the problem is much, much better (still get occasional slight numbness on longer events, but nothing like the complete loss of feeling I had before).

First quick fix I did was to flip my stem to give me a more upright position - to be honest, I think that pretty much solved the issue for me.

Prhymeate
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Re: numb hands

Postby Prhymeate » Tue Feb 19, 2013 23:30 pm

cheers for the replies everyone, much appreciated. I already try and stretch my arms and hands when possible and although I'm right handed, I always drink with my left. I have a slightly raised bar stem already because I felt quite uncomfortable and stretched on the one that came with it. I'd love to have a bike fit if I can find one that isn't too expensive. I'm 6'4 with a 63cm Triban 3 and feel as if the frame is a bit too long, although every time I mention that people say there is no way a 63 can be too big...

I'll check out the specialized tape and also try improving my core strength as I think it could be better. Thanks again!

Gimpl
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Re: numb hands

Postby Gimpl » Wed Feb 20, 2013 09:56 am

djm501 wrote:Better handlebar tape may help too. Specialized Bar Phat 4 mm - your hands will love you.

Be careful though- this is a route to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries- if it really persists get your bike fit sorted out properly. Doing some sit ups and improving your core muscles will help too.


My understanding is that the Carpel Tunnel holds the nerve for the thumb and index finger whereas it's the Ulnar nerve that makes the little and ring fingers numb.

From my experience Prhymeate (and we are the same height plus on my old bike I had raised the stem to me) it was caused by putting too much weight on your arm as has already been mentioned. During a bike fit for my new bike my saddle was moved further back so my core was holding me up more instead of my arms and this has really helped. Plus moving about a bit more to stretch out whilst riding.

I'm now going to change the set up on my old bike to reflect the newer and better position.

djm501
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Re: numb hands

Postby djm501 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:01 am

"and other repetitive strain injuries" I did include others to be complete.

FWIW I also get the little finger and ring finger numbness - I got it quite badly on 200 km ride not long ago - I have since invested in that Bar Phat tape and made myself move about more and worked on my core. It is helping but not completely.

Supermurph09
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Re: numb hands

Postby Supermurph09 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:27 am

Regarding the Ulnar nerve. You're correct it does make the little finger numb. I suffered for years with numbness in both arms and hands, I'd literally wake every night and have to shake one arm with the other to wake it up, it felt like I was paralysed. I'd constantly feel cold because of the numbness. I would say at this point that this was before I took up cycling. But basically the ulnar nerve presses against the elbow, it can happen doing almost anything for long periods of time. Even driving the car with your elbow resting on the window ledge.

I had a number of electric shock tests to test the response time to see if the ulnar nerve was being blocked. My left arm was worse and would respond to an op, the right arm they thought may get better. I had the op, which basically involves flipping the nerve out of the way. It takes quite a while to recover, not easy because at the time I lived alone. But I'm happy to report its all cleared up now. The reason for my post was to say its worth getting checked out if this is the problem because I suffered for at least 3 years with this and it affects you quite badly. I have noticed a slight issue with my right arm now when on the bike but I'm conscious of it so try to limit the problem.

All the best.

Prhymeate
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Re: numb hands

Postby Prhymeate » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:13 am

Thanks again everyone. It feels like it's 90% normal today although there is still a slightly odd feeling from my elbow to my finger. I will try moving my seat back a bit and see if that helps. I actually moved it forward slightly at the beginning of the year because I felt too stretched out but I'll give it a go. I'm going to get some of the specialized bar tape mentioned previously. If it is something that keeps occurring then I guess I'll have to fork out for a bike fit as it's obviously not worth letting it turn into a long term problem.

Slowbike
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Re: numb hands

Postby Slowbike » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:44 am

Shouldn't your saddle position be dictated by your legs and the geometry to the pedals - to increase/decrease reach you need to change the length of your stem...

Anyway - moving the saddle back will increase the reach which I would've thought would put more strain on your arms - not less ... ?

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Rigged
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Re: numb hands

Postby Rigged » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:46 am

A lot of things can cause numbness in the hands.

Start by sitting on your bike with your hands on the hoods, remove your hands but keep your torso in the same position. If you can't hold it or it's very difficult to hold you'll be putting a lot of pressure through your hands over the duration of a ride. To resolve it the easiest solution is to slide your saddle back a little so that your bum counter-weights your torso more effectively.

It's also possible that the angle of your hoods puts an uneven pressure across your hands.

If the above isn't a problem then look at better gloves, padded bar tape and maybe even arm warmers to keep your circulation going.

Prhymeate
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Re: numb hands

Postby Prhymeate » Wed Feb 20, 2013 13:28 pm

I just cycled to Evans and back to buy some bar phat and tape. Not a long ride of course but I tried to pay attention to the pressure on my hands. I sit quite upright already as I have a riser stem and could quite easily hold my hands off the bars without having to move my torso...I am pretty sure I need to improve my core strength anyway though.

I did notice that I spend a lot of time resting my hands like the picture that I have quickly photoshopped. The pressure is on the juicy part of my palm below my thumb.

Image

I do echo slowbike's comment about moving the saddle back resulting in more pressure on the hands...but maybe that's not how it works?

Gimpl
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Re: numb hands

Postby Gimpl » Wed Feb 20, 2013 14:26 pm

Prhymeate wrote:I do echo slowbike's comment about moving the saddle back resulting in more pressure on the hands...but maybe that's not how it works?


Yes - it's slightly counter intuative isn't it ! On my (now old winter hack!) I actually moved mine forwards and raised the bars higher as I initially felt too far away and thought I would be resting too much on my hands however as Rigged states moving the saddle back a bit sort of counter balances things. Think of doing a squat with a heavy weight - your bum automatically sticks out to counter balance. That's the analogy used by the guy that did my fit.

SmoggySteve
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Re: numb hands

Postby SmoggySteve » Wed Feb 20, 2013 17:06 pm

Prhymeate wrote:I started road cycling in June although I have ridden mtb before. Lately I've been trying to up my ride distance to 40-50 miles rather than the usual 25-30. The last couple of times I've been out my left hand/arm has felt a bit numb towards the end of the ride. It stays that way for the rest of the day and sometimes continues to the next. Most of my hand is fine, but if I try to push with my little finger it feels so weak.

When I first started riding a road bike, my left elbow would ache after a while but that seems to have gone. Is this something that I should wait and see if it fades away? Is it possible I'm subconsciously putting more weight on my left arm? It's not from the cold and my right hand is always fine.

Thanks for any advice.


You say its your LEFT arm ONLY. Are you wearing a watch? I found out from when I was more of a MTBer that my watch was acting like a tourniquet and my hand and arm would get pins and needles.

Prhymeate
Posts: 470
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:25 pm

Re: numb hands

Postby Prhymeate » Wed Feb 20, 2013 19:41 pm

Yea, it's only my left. I don't wear a watch or any rings or anything like that on my hands/arms either.

I'll play around with the saddle position and see if that helps at all. Thanks :)

Paul E
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Re: numb hands

Postby Paul E » Fri Feb 22, 2013 00:26 am

Move the saddle back a little bit at a time and rotate your pelvis forward, it works as you move your centre of gravity back, if you can remove your hands from the bar and not fall forward it's far enough back, I have discovered knee over pedal spindle is cr@p basically and no one can provide any real reason for it being a "rule" of bike fitting.
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