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Numbness, tingling and decreased function in hand…

Having a great time training for RAGBRAI, but have lately been experiencing some numbness, tingling and reduced function in my left hand after riding any serious distance. Anyone else have a similar problem. If so, any suggestions on how to fix/stop it?

33 Replies

nhhillrider, July 12, 2011 at 8:59 am

Michrider said: You could ask your shop to double wrap the handlebars for a more cushioning!

Yup.  I do the same … just the top of bars.  It helps.


Satman, July 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

BackInTheSaddleAgain said: 

Getting the weight off of your hands through proper bike fit and your posture is the key — I really doubt that your glove sizing has any effect.

Great advise above!  IMHO: 
#1 ~ Bike fit.  The relation from seat to handle bars controls weight distribution.
#2 ~ Strengthen your abdomen and lower back ~ Consciously use core
         strength to unweight your hands.
#3 ~ Extra padding on bars in the most often used position(s), and change
         positions regularly.
#4 ~ I had gloves that were binding at the base of the thumb, causing numbness.
          I no longer use gloves (unless it’s cold), and have no problems.
#5 ~ Shake and stretch your arms (one at a time!), wrists and fingers as
         soon as you start getting that feeling.  A little blood flow goes a long way.


crazikate, July 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Report from the Chiropractor…There is a nerve (#8) that runs from the base of your neck to your hand that controls the spreading of the fingers. It runs all the way down the arm. My problem seems to be a knot of tissue/muscle that sits in my forearm, straight up from my index finger. He pushed on it and my fingers all went numb. After massaging it for a bit and doing a small adjustment of my neck, it improved. Icing is helping as well. He agreed with all of the above. Back to the bike shop, the chiro. and massage therapist tomorrow. I put my bike on the trainer so that I could ride w/o using my hands for the next couple of days. I also noticed that the new position of the handle bars made it almost impossible for me to use my front derailer levers. :(  Lucky for me, I’m traveling on RAGBRAI with a chiropractor AND a massage therapist!


crazikate, July 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Took the bike into a fitting specialist and I think we may have solved the problem! My stem was too short, handle bars were too wide, seat too low and cleats miss positioned! All of this after already having the bike “fit” by someone else. I guess you get what you pay for, because the first person was cheap and spent about fifteen minutes with me. The second person spent over four hours with me, took 30+ measurements, put me on the trainer and video taped me. She used special equipment to measure my body in relation to the bike and in different stages of the pedaling. Wow! I didn’t realize how complicated it was but it made a huge difference in how my weight is distributed.


crazikate, July 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Oh, and yes…it was terribly expensive.


toadhead, July 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I got mine right before RAGBRAI last year and they totally messed it up….  D’OH!!!!  Just got it done for this year today….  They are ordering me a new handlebar….  Should be ready to roll Wednesday or Thursday….  Cutting it close!!!!


knees36, July 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm

crazikate said: Oh, and yes…it was terribly expensive.

Kate…you’ll forget how much it cost you much sooner than the way it fits you now.  Here’s wishing you a great RAG!!!  Cheers.


Samske, July 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I killed my pinky finger and 1/2 of my ring finger on my left hand during Hotter Than Hell last year.  I figured out that it was the ulnar nerve rather quickly.  I had my LBS gel wrap my bar and use cork tape.  I have a Trek so I used the Trek material.  I also switched to Specialized Body Geometry gel gloves designed for this exact same problem.  I slowly (aka barely) improved through the rest of the season.  After taking about 2 months off in the dead of winter, the feeling came back.  So far, this year, it has not reoccurred.  I’m not sure if the gel wrap, gloves, or that I simply got thinner and stronger allowing for less pressure on my hands that did it.  The gel wrap and Specialized gloves are things you could look into.  



> Professor, July 16, 2011 at 5:57 am

Get a recumbent. End of story.


toadhead, July 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Got in 50 today….  The new fit really helped….  They are wrapping the new bar in Specialized BG Bar Phat when it comes in….



crazikate, July 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I’ll def. look into the wrap and the gloves. Toadhead, I’m so glad you went in for the fitting. It’s already made a big difference for me. Too bad for me that they moved my seat and I feel like I’m having to re-break in my saddle.
Knees, the pain of the bill has already started to fade. I was burning up the road today and can’t wait for next week!! Ride on!


djrussell, July 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I bought Dr Scholl gel pads that are sold for the ball of foot & sewed them into my gloves for extra cushion–that really helped


Thoreau, July 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I was thinking of this post today as I was riding my hybrid and my left hand was getting numb.  It too has a flat bar handlebar.  I never get this on my road bike–and the numbness was one of the reasons I upgraded to a road bike.  Good luck!


statrixbob, July 18, 2011 at 1:20 am

My Bike Friday, my travel bike which is coming to Iowa, has flat bars and I’d always get numbness and pain after about 30 miles. I put on Ergon grips (GC3 touring model) and haven’t had any trouble since, even on 75+ mile rides. They really increase the number hand positions and the basic position is really comfortable. 


crazikate, July 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I did another 35 this morning w/o numbness, tingling or loss of use. I think that having the right sized handle bars and several hand position options is making a huge difference. I’ve also notices a big difference in the reduction of vibration w/ the carbon handle bar.
djrussel, the screws sound a little scary. Try Bish “Tear Mender” a fabric  and leather adhesive that I use sometimes for costuming. Good luck!


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