Would bike gloves help stop getting numb hands while cycling?



scho047

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Sep 4, 2006
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Hi,

I just wanted to know if there is a way to maybe reduce the chances of getting numb hands while cycling or is it just something that i need to get used to??

any advice would be much appreciated.

thanks
 

Wino Ryder

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May 12, 2006
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Cycling gloves will help initially, as they did for me when I first started riding. They absorbed some of the road shock, and cushioned my hands to a degree, but once your hands are acclimated to riding, most of the numbness will go away. This is of course if your saddle is not tilted nose down too much, which could put more pressure on your arms and hands. You have to find a happy balance there, as to what's right for you.

I'm speaking from a road bike perspective. Never rode a mountain bike before.
 

scho047

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Sep 4, 2006
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thank you for that info....
and yes it is for road bike i am talking about..... and what about the effect of gloves in terms of keeping moisture away so that your grips dont get slippery...?
 

carbonguru

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Sep 14, 2006
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Numb hands in general is caused by a pinched nerve in either the shoulder region or the wrist region [i.e. carpal tunnel]. Gloves may help a little, but over all, I think it will boil down to a nerve pinching issue. Try changing your hand position on the bars every 10-15 minutes. [Hoods, Drops, Top Flats of the Bar etc.] This helps me keep loose during longer training rides. :rolleyes:

scho047 said:
Hi,

I just wanted to know if there is a way to maybe reduce the chances of getting numb hands while cycling or is it just something that i need to get used to??

any advice would be much appreciated.

thanks
 

pixelmill

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Jul 24, 2006
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....also don't lean on your hands with your arms straight like rods - they should be slightly bent & relaxed on the bars. This puts pressure on your hands & they'll go numb.

Think about leaning forward. raising your chin and pushing your chest out & forward, & curving your lower back down to the top tube. You'll generate more power that way. You'll need to roll forward on the seat [which caused me a lot of numbness elsewhere - but 6 seats later that's all good...]

Lots of riders I see have their arms straight and their heads bent forward while they ride - and as it gets harder they drop their heads more & lean on their arms - which produces less power. Look at pro riders who avarage 200km a day - they all have their arms loosely bent at the elbow - eben on the hoods or flats the have their backs lower than most :rolleyes:
 

sogood

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Aug 24, 2006
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pixelmill said:
Look at pro riders who avarage 200km a day - they all have their arms loosely bent at the elbow - eben on the hoods or flats the have their backs lower than most :rolleyes:
Doesn't that require a lot of arm muscle strength to maintain? I note that locking the elbow straight may lessen the requirement on arm muscle, but with all the road shock, it really strains the elbow joint and makes it sore after.
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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It isn't just nerve compression that causes numbness, vibration can also do it, as can cold. I also find that it seems to be associated with excessive weight being born by the arms, rather than feet and bum.
I'm going to give different advice from the other posters - move your seat back. If it is nose down, then bring it level (don't tip it back - this would be a position preferred by few). Bringing your saddle back puts more weight on bum and pedals and less on the bars. It will, however, bend you over more. As another respondent has suggested, this may be a more powerful pedalling position, depending on where your seat was to start with, but it is not to everyone's taste. If you don't like being bent over more, you would then need to shorten your stem, and possibly find one with a steeper upward angle (such as those made by BBB) to raise the bars a little.
"Gel" gloves and plump bar tape may help a little, but I wouldn't rely on them to fix your problem.
 

ozelise

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Aug 12, 2005
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My solution which may or may not help:

1. As mentioned above correct bike fit positioning:

- Elbows ideally bent at 30 degrees on the hoods. Adjust seat / stem length etc. to achieve this.

2. Improve strength of trunk musculature (abdo muscles EO, RA etc.) so that your "core" carries most of your weight and not your arms

3. Adjust handlebars so that your wrists are relatively straight in the drops (if they are flexed, they may aggravate carpal tunnel)

4. Equipment upgrades may help, but unless you do the above, I feel it may just be papering over cracks (eg. carbon anatomic bars, carbon stem, gel gloves).
 

backtobiking

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Jul 13, 2006
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I find my hands getting cramped/numb. I've gone with a nice pair of gloves, new grip tape I like and I also move around alot on the bars. I'm still not happy. I've found a bar I like alot. Insted of the bar being round it is more oval and slightly over sized. My bike shop owner has it on his bike and it sure is comfortable for me. I think I'll give that a go. I'm told I'll have to change up a few thing to make it fly, but it should be worth it. If that don't help I'm going to start getting a massage on a regular bases. I've moderate pain in my neck and shoulders for some time and it gets to me when I ride. I don't think that will help over all do to the damage I've done, but maybe.
 

pixelmill

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Jul 24, 2006
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sogood said:
Doesn't that require a lot of arm muscle strength to maintain? I note that locking the elbow straight may lessen the requirement on arm muscle, but with all the road shock, it really strains the elbow joint and makes it sore after.


No - the arms are loose - it takes a lot of lower back strength. Pros mostly complain about sore lower backs - and who has seen a pro rider who was "strong" arms in any fair comparison of sports. They have to have the skinniest arms of any athletes. :)

Ozelise above has the best set of advice.
 

artemidorus

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Moving forward will tend to put more weight on your arms, although trunk and pelvic girdle muscle strength ("core" strength as it is called in today's jargon) can compensate until your centre of gravity moves forward of the bottom bracket.
Remember that what is best for the professionals, who move forward for optimised hip flexion and aerodynamics, is not always what is best for recreational riders.
 

scho047

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Sep 4, 2006
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thanks alot for those advice.... i really appreciate it... ive tried to constantly have my arms loose and try to work my core to support the weight when i went out for a ride today and it certainly have helped as my hands did not go numb as much and by simply changing the position of the hand constantly helped....
thanks a lot everyone :)
but i thnk i need to strenghten my core lot more !!!! ant tips on that??
 

carbonguru

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Sep 14, 2006
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Crunches on a Sportsmith Ball and Oliver Twists on a slant board using a Dowel or Broom Stick of some sort, behind your head and your hands holding the stick a little wider than shoulder width while resting on your deltoids. I love these two exercises. I do them all year. Your abs will be ripped and core strength improved. :rolleyes:



scho047 said:
thanks alot for those advice.... i really appreciate it... ive tried to constantly have my arms loose and try to work my core to support the weight when i went out for a ride today and it certainly have helped as my hands did not go numb as much and by simply changing the position of the hand constantly helped....
thanks a lot everyone :)
but i thnk i need to strenghten my core lot more !!!! ant tips on that??
 

HowardSteele

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Mar 7, 2006
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When it comes to relieving the numbness I find long fingered gloves work better for me than short fingered gloves.
Although those first few months of holding onto to mtbikes bars for dearlife going down the single track caused scary numbness.Now with skill and confidence on my side and a more relaxed stance and grip it happens less often.:)
 

was7g

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May 11, 2006
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scho047 said:
thanks alot for those advice.... i really appreciate it... ive tried to constantly have my arms loose and try to work my core to support the weight when i went out for a ride today and it certainly have helped as my hands did not go numb as much and by simply changing the position of the hand constantly helped....
thanks a lot everyone :)
but i thnk i need to strenghten my core lot more !!!! ant tips on that??
The most common cause of numbness in the hands for cyclists, according to my father (who sees this all the time as he's an orthopaedist), is pressure on the ulnar nerve, which provides both motor control and sensory feeling for the hand. When you put pressure on the fat pad on the base of your hand (on the palm where the hand and the wrist meet), you can put pressure on this nerve's various branches that innervate parts of the hand. I tend to have a numbness or tingling in my pinkie finger after long hours spent in the saddle (yesterday I rode a century, and am still a little tingly today), and to avoid that, I try and shift my hands as much as possible, as you yourself have been doing. I also try to grip the bars- and especially the drops- with the gap between my thumb and the rest of the hand, and not to put pressure on the base of my palms. When I have to put my weight on the crossbar, I try to do so with the fingers or the fat pad at the base of the fingers/top of the palm. That said, I still get a little numbness... so my riding position is still a work in progress.

My advice would be that if you're going to put pressure on your hands (and I think this is in some ways unavoidable), move your hand position as you've been doing AND be aware of the spots on your hands where you can pinch the nerve.
 

RickF

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Jul 27, 2005
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carbonguru said:
Numb hands in general is caused by a pinched nerve in either the shoulder region or the wrist region [i.e. carpal tunnel]. Gloves may help a little, but over all, I think it will boil down to a nerve pinching issue. Try changing your hand position on the bars every 10-15 minutes. [Hoods, Drops, Top Flats of the Bar etc.] This helps me keep loose during longer training rides. :rolleyes:
If the numbness is limited to the ring and little fingers, which is the most common, then it has nothing to do with the carpal tunnel. As was7g correctly pointed out, that numbness is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, which does not go through the carpal tunnel. The problem with most cycling gloves is they do not go far enough down towards the wrist to releive this pressure on the ulnar nerve. Using the abdominal muscles instead of the hands to support the weight of the upper body and moving the hands frequently is the best way to prevent numbness.
 

carbonguru

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Sep 14, 2006
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RickF...the original Poster of the message said "hands"...not fingers. For this reason I suggested a Primary cause for numbness. I'm a PT and deal with this daily. 99% of the time it has to do with some form of CT. In fact, the position us Cyclists stay in for 2-4 hours a day training aggravates ALL nerves in the carpal region area. The ulner nerve falls into this generalization. ;)



RickF said:
If the numbness is limited to the ring and little fingers, which is the most common, then it has nothing to do with the carpal tunnel. As was7g correctly pointed out, that numbness is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, which does not go through the carpal tunnel. The problem with most cycling gloves is they do not go far enough down towards the wrist to releive this pressure on the ulnar nerve. Using the abdominal muscles instead of the hands to support the weight of the upper body and moving the hands frequently is the best way to prevent numbness.
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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scho047 said:
but i thnk i need to strenghten my core lot more !!!! ant tips on that??
Ride a lot!!!
I'm not joking, many/most people simply will not carry out a prescribed programme of exercises, just as many/most people won't take a course of medication properly. If you simply ride, paying some attention to keeping the arms relatively relaxed and elbows bent, you will be strengthening the relevant muscles, and doing something that (presumably) you like. Don't try to take all the weight off your arms, it is appropriate for them to bear some of it.
 

PeterF

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Sep 13, 2004
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artemidorus said:
Ride a lot!!!
I'm not joking, many/most people simply will not carry out a prescribed programme of exercises, just as many/most people won't take a course of medication properly. If you simply ride, paying some attention to keeping the arms relatively relaxed and elbows bent, you will be strengthening the relevant muscles, and doing something that (presumably) you like. Don't try to take all the weight off your arms, it is appropriate for them to bear some of it.
Just to add to the discussion, does a carbon fiber bar help? The bar stem combo I ride is very stiff and I love it when I'm sprinting or climbing, but I get soreness and numbness from time to time and I've considered going with CF. Do the tiny vibrations from the road add to the numbness, or does it really just have to do with not changing hand positions?
 

artemidorus

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PeterF said:
Just to add to the discussion, does a carbon fiber bar help? The bar stem combo I ride is very stiff and I love it when I'm sprinting or climbing, but I get soreness and numbness from time to time and I've considered going with CF. Do the tiny vibrations from the road add to the numbness, or does it really just have to do with not changing hand positions?
There is no easy answer to this question. Severe vibration certainly is known to cause numbness, and permanent nerve injury if the insult is sufficiently large and chronic (ie jack-hammer operator). Most cyclists with alloy bars do not get vibration-induced numbness.