hand trouble

10 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

This is only my second season of serious riding and I'm having a problem and hoping someone can help me solve it. Last summer I had serious tingling issues in my hands. Yes, I am very conscious to keep changing my hand position while I ride. Last year I bought new gloves - helped a little. Just now I adjusted my seat somewhat, and got a new stem that makes the distance from my seat to my handlebars shorter. I rode my bike with the new set up for the first time last saturday. I thought it was much more comfortable and I did not get the usual tingling. (I did wear different gloves though b/c of the cold weather.) Unfortunately, when I took off my gloves, the tip of the index (first) finger on each hand was numb. The right hand took about 3 hours to recover and the left forefinger is better, but still a little numb now, almost 3 days later. Yikes. I've got a desk job, so my suspicion is that it is a product of too much computer use exacerbated by the biking. I've made an appointment for next week with a hand specialist. Although I don't want to give myself permanent nerve damage, I really love biking and would be very, very depressed if I couldn't do it any more. Does anyone have any thoughts about how to make my hands stop getting numb? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciate

Anonymous's picture
Sean Kelliher (not verified)

Yes, I experienced the same problem - numbness at the tip of one finger and a tingling sensation that ran down my wrist if I touched its underside. It began during winter when I was cycling least.

A doctor labeled it carpal tunnel (-sp?)syndrone and prescribed wearing a wrist brace while sleeping. It's unclear if cycling was connected to my ailment or not.

I have no medical experience so best to seek advice from someone who does.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Donato (not verified)
hand trouble

"I had that same problem years ago.
It nearly drove me nuts from my transition from Mountain Biking to Road Riding.

From that transition, I realized that I was grasping the Brake/Shift Levers too tightly on my road bike during my rookie years. Sometimes that numbness feeling seems to last for days and sometimes weeks (believe it or not) on my fingers.

Lauren...you might want to change your hand position frequently to prevent finger numbness when your riding. Grasp the handlebar firmly but gently. Grasping the handlebar and shifters too tightly will produce muscle tension and cause those numbness.

Also, keep your elbows bent & relaxed to absorb the bumps and shocks from rough roads. I used to hold the brake hoods (top of the bend of the handlebar) as my favorite position when I first started riding my road bike. After years of riding, I started to place my grip on the tops (close to the stem). It's my favorite position right now
and it's great for climbing up hills.

But it's your call on what position you like the best.
You can also buy the new Cinelli ""Gel"" handlebar tape that just came out on the market. They say that it retails for $17.00 and the handlebar tape will at least kill some of the sting in your hands.

If for some reason that this post reflected any sexual thoughts to any of the readers in this message board… then may I suggest that you really need to go out riding.

Hope this helps.


Anonymous's picture
Art (not verified)
Two Suggestions

1) Raise your handlebars.

2) Make sure your saddle is level (not tilted downward).


Anonymous's picture
Carp Al. Tunnel (not verified)
Handburger Help Her

This is difficult to suggest but it is possible that the positioning from where you sit to where your hands lie are off...

Try to relax when holding your handle bars....

You don't have to hold them tight, but check to see if your bike is fitted right for you and bend your elbows

Rent a mountain bike for the day with shocks in the front...

If there is no pain while riding then we've solved your problem but don't get depressed about not being able to bike any more until you've used up all your solutions to figure out the cause of this problem....


Al. Tunne

Anonymous's picture
Me neither (not verified)
Not rocket science

"It's pretty simple, really.

Your hands hurt because there's too much pressure on them.

More than likely, your bike is set up like a TdF racer's, but you, you're a little less fit than the average Europro.

Have a looksee at this for a more practical and realistic view on bike fit."

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan Goodman (not verified)
body positioning?

I've also had hand tingling and worse. It
is pretty common. When I asked around, I got
the advice to adjust my body position so that
my elbows were bent. Bent elbows soften the
impact on the hands when the bike goes over
bumps. One way to adjust riding posture is to
bend from the waist with a straight back. It's
also more aero.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi 0n Bike (not verified)
the other CTS

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be anything from a minor annoyance to a painful and debilitating injury if not attend to. But don’t give up cycling just yet.

Not knowing anything about the type of bicycle you ride, your fitness and skill level, your body position and BIKE FIT. Here are a few things anybody can try to relieve some pressure off the hands.

1) Strengthen your abs. (crunches) and lower back (back extensions) to support the torso rather than resting your weight on your shoulders, arms, and hands.

2) When riding on the brake hoods, lighten the load on the medial nerve and the ulna bone. You can try external rotation on both arms (eye of the bent elbows towards the front) and press down on the fleshy webbing between the thumb and forefinger rather than the heel of the hand. Also relax the shoulders because you might be pinching the nerves from the upper back and neck.

3) Bending at the top of the femur(at the hips not the waist) bone will give you a flatter back when riding. Helping you with a longer reach to place your hands on different parts of the handle bar.

I don’t know if you need a hand specialist to tell you to stop doing what cause you pain and discomfort. Go on shorter rides to see if any of these or above suggestions help relieve some pressure without causing more injury. And place your wrist on a foam rest to lift your hand off the desk when using a mouse. Squeeze a rubber ball, flex you fist towards your forearms. All these things help create space for the medial nerve.

Good luck

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Numb fingertips (edit)

Maybe it was from the cold? Seriously, no joke.

Maybe the shorter stem still isn't short enough - women tend to have a difficult time getting the bars close enough and high enough (short torso, long legs), especially on a frame designed for a man the same height.

In your second season you are still adjusting to the riding position. A year or two or three from now, after you've grown accustomed to it, you might want that longer stem but right now you're probably supporting too large a percentage of your weight with your hands.

(Additionally, many people find their flexibility improves as the season goes on - accumulated saddle time and warmer weather. They're able to stretch out better on the bike, and lower the stem they raised at the start of the season.)

Anonymous's picture
Lauren A. (not verified)

Thanks everyone. This is all great advice. Seems like if I can just get a foam thing to squeeze at the computer at work, relax on the handlebars, move around, strengthen my abs, bend at my hips, and get a new bike that fits better, as well as possibly pray to the weather gods for the end of winter, I should be all set. :-) I will try it all (except the new bike might have to wait a season or two).

Thanks again.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)

"I've done some long distance rides in my time, (NYC-Montreal in 40 hrs and NYC-D.C. in 22). Back when I was doing these rides I had similar problems. I didn't go numb on the Montreal ride, but the next week I went to Bear mountain and went numb in the fir st 10 miles. My hands stayed numb for a week or so.

Back then we used to use foam hand grips called Grab-Ons, (not very fashionable, but way more cushion than gel tape).

The advise about strengthening the abs and lower back is right-on. In addition, an d probably more important is hamstring flexibility. You can't rotate your hips forward and ride with a ""flat back"" if your hamstrings are tight.

I practice Active Isolated Stretching to take care of this. You can learn about it in ""The Whartons Stretch B ook"". The book covers stretches for every part and even recommends some for carpal tunnel problems.

Get your position evaluated by a someone who knows bodies and bikes. The best way to find someone is to ask around. I learned the hamstring info from a cl ub program presented by Dr. Erol Toran. I've never been to him myself, but some friends swear by him. There are also some good people who work in bike shops, but this can be hit or miss.

Hope this was helpfuli"

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