Anyone who has been on a long ride, they have probably experienced some sort of pain or discomfort. And besides from the really obvious pain in your legs, it might be neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, maybe even uncomfortable stuff like saddle sores, we have dealt with a few possible solutions to common ailments like that before, but one thing that we are yet to discuss is how to deal with numbness or pain in your hands or wrists which is something you ask a lot. And now I will share some of our experience about it.
Why is that we always feel numb when cycling for a long time? Because when the several nerves in your hands are compressed then you will start to feel that tingling sensation. The ulnar nerve runs through the bottom of your wrist and to your finger, whereas the median nerve runs through the middle of your wrist and to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and ring finger.
It is much more common to have the ulnar nerve pinched on a road bike due to the hand position in the drops and on top of the hoods.
Numbness hands happen maybe because you have your seat too far forward or your bars too far away. our stem may also be too long, forcing your bars away from you and encouraging you to put more weight onto your arms. You may have to consider shortening your stem and possibly also lowering your bars in order to relax your arm/shoulder angle without changing your back angle. So, check if the nose of the saddle is not pointing down, shorter the stem if it’s too long and set your seat at the right height.
One of the first things that you should try doing is simply relaxing a little bit more on the bike. Often the problems that we get in terms of numbness and pain are up and bodies and to do with too much tension in that other body where you’re gripping the bars too tightly. This is something that’s particularly common among new riders to the score. It might be a little less confident riding their bikes out on the open roads and really there is no need to have a vice-like grip on the bars. So consciously try to relax your hands and wiggle your fingers that we now and again just to remind you not to grip the bars too tightly.
2. Make sure your hands in the right position and bend your elbow a little bit.
Another thing you can try is to experiment with your hand position on your bike on a road bike you’ve got three positions: on the drop down the bars, on the hood where you can easily access your brakes and your shifters, and if you’re climbing slowly, you can try sitting up on the tops, just bearing your hand position throughout a ride will keep the blood flowing and avoid anything nasty like compressed nerves. Now a long wave trying to relax your wrist and your hands you can also try to take some of the weight off the arms themselves. One way to do this is to recruit your core and this is something you can practice on the home trainer. Keeping this position on the bike whilst removing your hands from the bars. That way you’re going to recruit more of your core muscles and your arms, hands and wrists are going to be bearing less weight.
Another thing you can experiment with is your arm position. So don’t ride along with locked out dead straight arms. Go for a slight bend to allow you to absorb any bumps or shots from the road surface. That said there ‘s no need to go full and the slight bend will suffice. When your hands are on the hoods, your elbows should be slightly bent and your hands should be perpendicular to your torso. So that’s what you can do with your body but what about your bike and equipment.
3. Remove vibration as much as possible.
Every one of us wants to try and remove as much the road vibration knocks and bumps that you receive through your bike as possible. So one thing that you could try perhaps is double wrapping your bars to give some extra cushioning. And you can also try experimenting with gloves, with plenty of padding, but our favorite thing to do from this point of view is to replace your tyres with some much bigger ones. Definitely upgrading to 28 mm tyres or even wider if your frame can accommodate it. It is pretty much the best way to reduce road vibration reaching your hands and body. And that’s because you have a fatter tyre that you can run at a lower pressure without increasing your risk of pun turning and it will absorb all of the contact, all of the bumps from the road without passing them on. And when you think about it there is a reason that professional cyclists use 28 C or wider tyres and that is to soak up the bumps from some of the hardest road conditions that they will ever face. This does make it far less uncomfortable.
4.Make sure your bike fit.
One final thing that you could try is to go and get a bike fit from a professional way. That’s not necessarily guaranteed to work well. This actually is something you can spare it with yourself particularly with the help of a more experienced rider. So you should look at things like the height of your bars or maybe the angle of the shifters and so on as well. If they are too low, it might be you just got too much weight going through your hands and wrists. So if that’s the case you could try, just raising your bar slightly. Also look at your saddle height and angle as well, but if it’s too high or tilted downwards, it will tend to shift your body weight further forwards on the bike again, in more weight through your arms, wrists and hands. So if that’s the case, make sure it is level. We try putting it down slightly and further back, so more weight is being supported by yourself.
In conclusion, hopefully trying one or a combination of tips will help you solve any hand or wrist pain and numbness issues that you’ve had on the bike. But if you’ve solved those issues a different way do let us know in the comments because we would love to hear your experiences.