Bike Fit

Sponsored Features


We provide cycling enthusiasts with the finest components and gear, from the best brands, at the lowest possible prices and deliver it faster than anyone else.
Numbness Prevention
Ditch the Tingles
Keep the feeling in your extremities by tweaking your bike setup
ByMatt Allyn
StumbleUpon Share
Printer Friendly Version
(15)

It starts with a tingle in your big toe or pinkie finger. Before long, your foot, hand or entire leg has gone numb and you spend the rest of your ride squirming to get the feeling back, says Paraic McGlynn, director of applied cycling science at the Serotta International Cycling Institute. Most numbness issues are caused by poor bike fit. Here's how to adjust your setup so your extremities never fall asleep on a ride again.

 

Feet
Ill-fitting footwear is the root cause of most lower-extremity numbness. When shopping for shoes, consider their width and height in addition to numerical size, says McGlynn. "Shoes with more height allow for taller arches," he says. Shoes that are too small pinch nerves in your metatarsal arch at the ball of the foot. The arch will collapse if it's not adequately buttressed, so be sure yours have sufficient support.

 

Hands
"A long reach to your handlebar creates a wrist extension that pinches nerves," McGlynn says. To determine your correct reach, ask a friend to watch you spin on a trainer. When your hands are on the hoods, your elbows should be slightly bent and your arms should be perpendicular to your torso. Vibrations from aluminum handlebars can also rattle your hands to sleep. McGlynn recommends installing Bontrager BzzzKill dampers ($10/pair) to absorb road chatter.

 

Groin
Leaning forward on your saddle compresses the perineal nerves (in the soft area between your groin and butt), which cuts off blood flow and feeling. First check your saddle tilt, says McGlynn. The top should be parallel to the ground, which allows your sit bones to carry most of your weight. Next, check your handlebar reach as described above; a long reach rotates your hips forward and transfers weight to your perineum.

 

Legs
A saddle that's wrong for your body can place excess weight on nerves and blood vessels, numbing you from your hips down, so test-ride a few with varying shapes and thicknesses. If you still experience numbness and loss of power after dialing in fit and gear, you may have iliac artery impingement, a condition that restricts blood flow to the legs, McGlynn says. The affliction is rare, but can turn up in cyclists who train in aggressive and time-trial positions. A 2004 study in Sports Medicine found the condition in 20 percent of elite cyclists surveyed. If rest and a more relaxed position fail to solve the problem, see your doctor.

 

Beyond Fit
Fit specialist Paraic McGlynn warns that not all numbness can be remedied with position adjustments and may require medical help. Sometimes, a spinal condition—such as a herniated disc, spine misalignment or disc degeneration—is the culprit. When these problems occur in the lumbar (lower, inward-curving) spine, they often cause lower-extremity discomfort or numbness. When in the upper spine, they affect your arms, shoulders and hands.



Want more Bicycling? Subscribe today and get 2 free gifts.
 
Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Yahoo! Icon LinkedIn Icon
 

Comments

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.!!Wedding Rings Marquis
This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.!!Wedding Rings design
i feel hand numbness coming on, I hook two fingers into my jersey on top of the opposite shoulder for one minute. You can really feel the blood circulation change and it provides a good reset. https://www.rebelmouse.com/femalemindmastery/
The condition is called "cyclist palsy." I believe there are certain gloves available to prevent this. Carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud's phenomenon can also cause numbness in the fingertips. Other possible causes: - hyperventilation Online Marketing Companies
mmine Mon, 2013-08-19 09:36 new Being a biker is a good exercise but you can't escape the pain and numbness after biking. Dr. Ratsprecher of Chiropractor suffern has a gentle, caring, and effective way of approaching the body. His successful method will decrease nervous system interference in the body through the use of postural correction
Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in the pinky finger can be due to Guyon's canal syndrome, which can be caused by the pressure of the pinky side of the wrist on the handlebars. The condition is called "cyclist palsy." I believe there are certain gloves available to prevent this. Carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud's phenomenon can also cause numbness in the fingertips. Other possible causes: - hyperventilation - severe dehydration - water intoxication (heavy sweating plus drinking plain water) There are actually more than 100 specific causes of numbness in the fingertips
Used to have this problem. Paid Adam Kaplan @ GetaGrip Cycling in Chicago $325 for a professional fitting on my Specialized Roubaix Expert & Cervelo RS. Best money I've ever spent on cycling! The 2 hour evaluation & following adjustments to my riding position took a bit of getting used to, but after 6 weeks, I can say uncategorically that not only is hand numbness GONE, but elbow tingling also. I ride for 40-50 miles like I used to ride 10. Average speed has gone from 16mph to 17 with the SAME EFFORT. If you're experiencing ANY issues with discomfort, or just want to increase your power to the pedals, go to a professional with the certifications, and the experience, like Adam, and he will show you what you're doing wrong, and fix it! Be prepared to buy some hardware: most of us have the wrong size shoes, handlebar width/reach/drop, stem rise/length, saddle style or crank length.
With the large selection of gloves out there, it is really hard to find a pair with thick padding and that extends over the middle of the base of your palm. Besides different hand positions, when I feel hand numbness coming on, I hook two fingers into my jersey on top of the opposite shoulder for one minute. You can really feel the blood circulation change and it provides a good reset.
If you encounter numbness in the fingers or hands, try two things: 1) narrower handlebars. Virtually all road bikes ship with 42cm c-c handlebars, no matter what frame size. 2) change the position of the shifters, both up/down & side/side. You can rotate the handlebars up/down to find the right position, then move the shifters when you get it right to avoid retaping a bunch of times.
For myself, numbness in my hands and feet, always occur when I'm riding a distance that is beyond what I'm accustomed to. During my first year of riding while aiming for my first century, the numbness, along with "hot foot" would begin around the 70 mile marker. Last year while training for several double centuries, the classic numbing issues would seem to crop up on my long training rides around the 130 mile marker. I found that when it (tingling) begins, I just stop the bike, dismount, kick my shoes off momentarily (10 seconds), jump back on, and the numbness barrier seems to get "reset". The short break (30 seconds) seems to interupt the lack of blood flow/nerve transmissions.
While I agree that fit and fork/bar material are important, in my own case I have found over many years that the most important factor in numbness of the hand and fingers is unrelieved pressure on the palmar surface of the hand, especially on the thenar eminence (the rounded portion of the palm at the base of the thumb). Changing hand positions regularly is helpful in preventing or relieving numbness, but going from the drops to the hoods or the hoods to the bar top may not be that helpful if the same area is still under pressure. One trick that works for me is to temporarily put the pressure on the sides of your hands while pinching the hoods lightly between fingers and thumb. Another method that has been personally effective is dropping upper body weight, but, needless to say, a bit more challenging to accomplish!
I have carpel tunnel. surgery helped with the left hand but the right hand still goes numb. I change my hand positions very frequently, this helps, also extra padding wrapped on the handle bars, also lighten your grip on the bars,it will help... God bless
I have the same problem. At the advise of a local bike shop I tried gel filled gloves. It really didn't help. Now I'm thinking of handlebar extensions so I can put move my hands around. Anyone else try this? Did it help?
The medical term for the numbness in the hands caused by cycling is called "cyclists palsy". It is usually caused by a combination of vibration, increased weight on the hands, and hyperextension of wrists. My left hand and wrist would always go numb on me when I went on rides longer than 25 miles. Even if I switched my hand position often, it would still happen. At first I double wrapped my handlebars and put the buzz killers in the handlebar ends...better, but not gone. Then, I started using gloves. This helped even more, but I still had the numbness...especially if I wasn't vigilant about constantly switching my hand positions. Then, I switched out my aluminum fork for a carbon fiber one and it made all the difference. If your bike has an aluminum fork on it and an aluminum frame, you will get more chatter. Having the two different materials really helps to dampen road vibration. It also will lighten up your bike a bit, which can translate into slightly greater average speeds. Hope this helps.
I do have carpel tunnel so my hands get knumb irregardless. Are there other riders who have this same ailment? If so, other than having the surgery done, what are you doing especially on long rides (longer than 30 miles)? Any special gloves? Thanks!