How to Keep Your Hands From Going Numb on the Bike
By Michael Nystrom

Adapted from:

You know the sensation: A bit into class you start feeling some tingling in your hands and up into your fingers. You shake them out, hoping to relieve the dull ache, but it doesn”™t seem to make a difference. What do you do?

Many cyclists, both indoor and out, from novice to pro, experience hand numbness from time to time. Compressed nerves in the shoulder, elbow or wrist can cause a tingling feeling that can take several hours to dissipate after your class is over. While the ideas below may not permanently prevent the problem, they can help alleviate or reduce numbness during class.

1) Take weight off of your arms: Whether you”™re aware of it or not, it”™s easy to fall into a habit of sitting in a more forward position. Next time, think about sitting back on the saddle and use your core instead of your arms to support your body.

2) Change your hand position: The standard bike has three distinct and positions: the drops, the hoods and the tops. Each has their own advantage in certain situations, but it”™s important to keep your hands moving between the three to keep blood flowing and take pressure off certain nerves. Don”™t spend too much time in one position.

3) Change your arm position: Locking out your elbows while riding is never a good idea. Ride with a slight bend in the elbow instead of riding with your arms stretched out straight. If this doesn”™t feel comfortable, it might be time to have your instructor give you a bike fit.

4) Relax: You don”™t need to white knuckle your handlebars when riding. Gripping the handlebars to tightly creates tension that can make your hands go numb. If this sounds like you, it is simple: relax and move your fingers. Not only will the numbness subside, but you enjoy your ride more.

5) Buy a pair of cycling gloves: Similar to double wrapping your bars on an outdoor bike, cycling specific gloves have built in padding that protects sensitive pressure points and nerve endings.

6) Get a bike fit: Whether your hands are numb or not, you should ask your instructor to give you a bike fit. They should use a plumb bob and goniometer, if not, you may not be getting a great fit.

7) Stretch: Cycling is a repetitive sport, so immobility and imbalance issues can sneak up on you before you know it. Working on your range of motion and flexibility on a regular basis and help alleviate numbness both on and off the bike. Try for arm stretches, rest rolls and shoulder rolls to strengthen and improve flexibility over time, before and after each class.

Joey Stabile

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