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  1. #1
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    Hands going numb can't shift

    I've been out of the scene for a bit. Last couple months I've done a lot of riding and my fitness is coming back.

    I've developed a problem (age?) where my hands are going numb and I can no longer shift because my thumbs don't work. I know your going to say focus on loosening your grip but the problem occurs on my road bike as well. I don't even grip the bar on that thing so much as rest them on top.

    A couple things I can do: soften the front fork I do run it on the firm side. Let a pound or two out of the front tire. Or switch to grip shift, I've never been a fan. Wait it out and see if it improves, I've only been serious again for the last couple months maybe my hands need time to catch up?

    Any other ideas? Thanks for the help I'd like to be able to shift again!

  2. #2
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    I'd guess you must have some sort of fit issue. I don't think it's a good idea to just push through it because you might end up injured. Maybe have an expert take a look at your fit on both bikes.

  3. #3
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    I had that problem year before last. Try to put the MTB brake levers in the same geometric plane as your arms. Most people have the brake/shifter levers swung up too much.

    Also monitor the activity you do with smart phones and computers. Each one alone doesn't do much, but a combo (bike, computer, phone, tablets, etc) can cause some hand issues.

    I've gone to left handed mouse and that helps a lot. Also using the voice recognition typing on the smart phone reduces wear on the hands.

    Also try a different model of glove. I really like the specialized body geometry.
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  4. #4
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    I have a similar issue that that I alleviated, but not eliminated, with some bike setup changes.
    My issue is due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which may or may not be your exact problem.

    I've had really good success minimizing hand numbness during XC races and rides with the following combination:
    29er with 2.35 tires at 20 PSI (I'm a 190+ pound XC rider, and these pressures work really well on my HT bike),
    120mm forks run a bit soft (I have about 25mm of sag),
    Raise the bars a few centimeters from my previous very aggressive position (more like a trail bike setup),
    Ergon grips with the little bar ends. I think these are a big improvement - they allow changing hand positions, and they distribute the pressure across my palms.

    Fussing with position, as someone else commented, can be very helpful.

    BTW, the races in question usually have some significantly rocky sections.

    Good luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruffm View Post
    I've been out of the scene for a bit. Last couple months I've done a lot of riding and my fitness is coming back.

    I've developed a problem (age?) where my hands are going numb and I can no longer shift because my thumbs don't work. I know your going to say focus on loosening your grip but the problem occurs on my road bike as well. I don't even grip the bar on that thing so much as rest them on top.

    A couple things I can do: soften the front fork I do run it on the firm side. Let a pound or two out of the front tire. Or switch to grip shift, I've never been a fan. Wait it out and see if it improves, I've only been serious again for the last couple months maybe my hands need time to catch up?

    Any other ideas? Thanks for the help I'd like to be able to shift again!

  5. #5
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    +1 to the glove suggestion, BTW - I have 3 pair, and 1 is notably better than the others - thin palm, loose-ish fit, Fox full finger

    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    I had that problem year before last. Try to put the MTB brake levers in the same geometric plane as your arms. Most people have the brake/shifter levers swung up too much.

    Also monitor the activity you do with smart phones and computers. Each one alone doesn't do much, but a combo (bike, computer, phone, tablets, etc) can cause some hand issues.

    I've gone to left handed mouse and that helps a lot. Also using the voice recognition typing on the smart phone reduces wear on the hands.

    Also try a different model of glove. I really like the specialized body geometry.

  6. #6
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    I also suffer from some hand numbness on both the road and MTB. Haven't figured it out yet...I'm stubborn and have just been pushing through it. Doesn't happen every ride. Some good suggestions above...maybe I will try.

  7. #7
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    I also moved my mouse to my left hand, I was having arm pain at that time (and not riding really at all), my chiropractor helped me quite a bit. I also find I work more efficiently with the mouse on the left, I can use the mouse and takes notes etc with the right hand simultaneously.
    Adding some arm/core exercises may help, stronger arms and shoulders will put more of the load on muscle and strengthen the tendons too.
    I move my hands to the ends of my grips (palms vertical) on most climbs, just that momentary alternate hand position helps me, but I don't get whole hand numbness, usually just the ring and pinky fingers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm01 View Post
    I also suffer from some hand numbness on both the road and MTB. Haven't figured it out yet...I'm stubborn and have just been pushing through it. Doesn't happen every ride. Some good suggestions above...maybe I will try.
    Oury clamp on grips are actually bigger than most, but softer. They are great. The bigger grip my relieve some strain.

    Also, ERgon makes a different style of grip that might work for you.

    As for the road rig,
    That could be bike fit and back strength. You could have too much weight on your hands. You bars could be too skinny or too wide. The whole road fit is a long learning process.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  9. #9
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    Padded gloves, time in the saddle for adaptability (maybe try more frequent shorter rides if it's occurring after a certain time duration), and stretch the hands/forearms if possible?

    I was having some discomfort after I got a dirt bike this past spring and just basically try stretching it. Likely also to do with thumb use on the phone

    Light massage, and maybe icing for inflammation after riding.

  10. #10
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    Hands going numb can't shift

    Which gear shifters are you using? I had thumb issues with Shimano Deore XT Rapid Fire triggers, due to the fixed location of the thumb levers. With each downshift I was getting pain from stretching my thumb slightly too far backwards. Switching back to SRAM X-0 trigger shifters (which have an adjustable thumb lever position for less of a stretch) helped sort out the problem.

    "Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (although not the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel - a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand - houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. Although painful sensations may indicate other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known of the entrapment neuropathies in which the body's peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatized."

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/c...pal_tunnel.htm

    Something that I've found to have a surprisingly large effect on hand numbness and pain is grip diameter. They need to be matched to your hand size with a thinner grip for small hands and a thicker grip for large hands. A few years ago I started using Lizard Skins Peatty grips, which were well reviewed but slightly larger in diameter than my previous grips. Within the space of a few months I could hardly hold onto the bars, due to pain in both my hands. Returning to my previous thinner grips saw it go away again. The grips that I now have are the Specialized BG contour ergonomic grips, but in the women's version as they're thinner.

    http://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/ftb...-locking-grips

    The other thing I've noticed is that short finger gloves can often be tight and dig into the webbed part of your hand between the thumb and index finger, causing numbness. A long finger glove that doesn't dig in to that area sees me able to ride for much longer without hand numbness.

    When riding you have to try and move your hands around regularly. On fire road, easy sections and tarmac putting your thumbs on top of the grips gives some respite.

    It's also worth trying to make a point of taking each hand off the grip, hanging it down by your side and giving it a good shake every five minutes or so from the beginning of the ride. By doing this from well before your hands start going numb it prolongs the onset of any hand issues whilst riding. It's easy to forget to do this.

    On the road bike you can double wrap the grips with two layers of handlebar tape for a little more cushioning also.

    Here are some grip strength exercise videos that you could try (google motocross arm pump). Doing forearm and grip strength work can help you to hold onto the bike. If you do have something like carpal tunnel syndrome then it's possible that forearm exercises could make it worse, not better.

    Wrist Roller



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Px4qH-HXI

    Wrist curls palm up and palm down - by rolling the dumbbell onto your fingertips it helps with grip strength.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMJ4zIZzZxY

    Tricep extensions


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1ohswSdVZs

    Motocross arm pump



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl00Q...layer_embedded

  11. #11
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    WR304, I'm glad you mentioned that going from XT to XO shifters made a big difference. On trails where I am shifting a lot, my thumb gets so weak from downshifting, that I end up holding the gear longer and just grinding it out.

  12. #12
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    Hands going numb can't shift

    Quote Originally Posted by Surfdog93 View Post
    WR304, I'm glad you mentioned that going from XT to XO shifters made a big difference. On trails where I am shifting a lot, my thumb gets so weak from downshifting, that I end up holding the gear longer and just grinding it out.
    What I like to do when setting brake and shift lever position is to grip the bars, close my eyes and reach out to where I imagine the levers should be. I then adjust the brake and shift lever position so that my fingers and thumb fall exactly on the brake lever and shifters without hesitation or stretching.

    I rotate the allen bolt adjustable SRAM X-0 downshift thumb lever forwards so that there's very thumb pull back to downshift, enough to still downshift two gears at a time but less than the stock position that they ship with.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    What I like to do when setting brake and shift lever position is to grip the bars, close my eyes and reach out to where I imagine the levers should be. I then adjust the brake and shift lever position so that my fingers and thumb fall exactly on the brake lever and shifters without hesitation or stretching.

    I rotate the allen bolt adjustable SRAM X-0 downshift thumb lever forwards so that there's very thumb pull back to downshift, enough to still downshift two gears at a time but less than the stock position that they ship with.
    Great advice WR304 and always appreciate your replies on other threads as well, as answers seem to be informative and on topic. I believe part of my issue is due to the cable routing on the Niner RDO. I have the latest version, but shifting still requires a lot more pressure than on my other bikes. I'm gonna let the shop take a look at it tomorrow and if a new/different cable doesn't make it better, will look into the XO.

  14. #14
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    Ive had the same problems this year. I switched to the ergon grips with the small bar ends and it helped a lot. Problem was I had a tendency to hook them from time to time which led to painful crashes. I ended up taking them off and going to normal ergon grips but numbness came right back. I realized that with the bar end grips, it made my bars 1.5" wider. I took a half inch of the handle bars and out the bar end grips back on. Numbness pretty much gone again and now less chance of hooking

  15. #15
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    Also make sure you are not just hyperventilating. . If you are not taking long deep breaths and instead taking short fast breaths you severely limit the amount of oxygen in your blood which can/will make your hands and feet feel numb

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