Numbness in the hands and fingers while riding can occur because two important nerves, the ulnar and median, run right through your palms, the very same spots that support your weight on a bike. If you’re not careful, you can easily put too much pressure on these nerves and put your hands to sleep, a painful condition that can last even after you’ve stopped riding.
The first and simplest solution to try is checking your riding habits. Do you usually maintain the same grip on rides, rarely moving your hands on the handlebars? Would you describe how you hold the bars as resting your hands on them or squeezing them? Are you cycling in quality cycling gloves that fit well? Besides the numbness in your hands, are you suffering elsewhere on rides such as in your lower back, neck or shoulders?
By answering these questions, you should be able to figure out what’s causing the numbness and relieve it. Gripping the handlebars in one spot throughout a ride, and holding on too tightly to the handlebars, are two common causes. Train yourself to move your hands every ten minutes or so by setting the countdown timer alarm on your stopwatch to sound. Every time it beeps, move your hands to another grip position. It’s also a good idea to shake them out (one at a time so you can steer with your other hand) next to you to keep good circulation. If you’re riding flat handlebars with only one hand position, try installing bar ends to provide more options. You might find that a different grip or handlebar tape provides more cushioning and comfort, too.
Good gloves are also important. They must fit comfortably because tight gloves can restrict circulation causing numbness. Padding type and thickness is important but you’ll have to try on some gloves to feel the difference and discover which models you like best. We can point out our most popular ones. Some of our gloves are designed specifically to protect the nerves that are affected when you’re biking.
Pain in other parts of your body is a sign that it might be an incorrect riding position that’s causing your hand distress. Two things to look for are a seat that’s set too high and/or handlebars that are too low. These maladjustments force you to put too much body weight squarely on the hands, causing the numbness. We’re experts on bike fit and we can help with advice on your equipment and riding techniques so you can enjoy pain-free rides.