Numb Hands - Big(er) Rider?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Numb Hands - Big(er) Rider?

    Not so tiny here (6', 250#) and I'm getting numb hands from longish downhill technical bits where I'm supporting a good deal of weight on my hands. I currently have PI Elite Gel gloves and they work well enough for XC and climbing, but aside from better technique to keep the weight off the hands, any recommendations for gloves with a bit more padding to help stave off the numbness?

  2. #2
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    More padding actually makes my numbness worse because the padding presses into the nerves in my palms. You might try different grips. I use ESI Super Chunky but a lot of folks find that grips like Ergons with the palm shelf help with numb hands. I'd go for the better technique as much as possible though.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    I'd go for the better technique as much as possible though.
    This. Plus check your cockpit. You want to make sure you're not having to reach too far, the bars are in the best position (proper width, reach, rotation, height). Then move to controls (brakes/shifters in most comfy position). I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting...

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    Bar width, I think that's one problem. When I compare my old bike to my new Specialized Camber, I feel like I'm reaching out and maybe that's putting pressure on the outer sides of my palms. A little leary of having the bars cut until I'm sure that's the issue. Also makes the front end feel a bit twitchy when in narrow singletrack ruts. Definitely going to look at that next ride out.

  5. #5
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    What part of your hands gets numb? Whole hand? Thumb and index finger, ring and little finger?

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    Im a larger guy (6'1" 220lbs) with larger hands and ODI Rouge grips were a game changer for me. Bigger, just the right amount of cushion, tons of grip.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    What part of your hands gets numb? Whole hand? Thumb and index finger, ring and little finger?
    Starts off with my outer palms, then the pinky and little fingers. Luckily the index and middle don't get bad so I can still brake.

  8. #8
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    I like my bars with more sweep. Using a death grip? Sometimes hard to avoid. Bike fit set up correct?

  9. #9
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    I will second the ODI Rogue Grips. I recently switched to some other grips and within a couple weeks noticed the numbness. Went back to my ODI's and instantly it was gone. I also just purchased some Lizard Skin Northshore grips and they are about the same as the ODI. The ODI were slightly softer though.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    Starts off with my outer palms, then the pinky and little fingers. Luckily the index and middle don't get bad so I can still brake.
    IMHO, that suggests compression of the ulnar nerve either at the palm from pressure on that part of the palm, or from an awkward angle imposed on either the wrist or elbow. Id bet that your solution will rest with a different sweep and width of your bars.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    Starts off with my outer palms, then the pinky and little fingers. Luckily the index and middle don't get bad so I can still brake.
    I started developing a bit of a 'trigger finger' issue in my left pinky. So I moved my brake levers more inboard (for one finger braking), installed ODI Rogues, tilted my seat up a smidge and start focusing on using my core more instead of resting on the bars. It seems to have worked as I'm back to having almost no stiffness in my pinky.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    ... aside from better technique to keep the weight off the hands
    ^ I'm betting this is where your issue is but it's difficult to diagnose on a forum given the number of variables. A few of the prime suspects are:

    Bike Setup: Your bar position could be off, your reach might be off, your seat could be too far forward, etc.

    Technique: If you have a death grip on your bars for sustained periods, addressing technique is going to give you significantly more appreciable returns over swapping gear.

    You: If your technique is ok (e.g. your weight is usually on your feet instead of your hands) and your bike is set up properly then it could be something like carpal tunnel or a circulation thing. There are ways to address those as well.

    I would recommend a little more work done in diagnosing the problem before you start buying gear or throwing parts at it.

    Start by making sure you're positioned properly on your bike. If you don't have a ton of confidence in setting up your bike, you would probably benefit from a fitting by a local bike shop. These write-ups are also pretty good:

    Technique: Perfect mountain bike fit - BikeRadar USA

    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...ke-like-a-pro/

    Once you're sure you've got your cockpit position dialed in, the next time you go out try to be actively aware of your technique to see if you've been unconsciously squeezing a handprint into your bars for sustained periods of time. No amount of gear or setup will fix that, it's all technique. Also, see if you're riding with bent wrists.

    If your technique is good and your bike is set up correctly it might be time to visit your doc to get a medical perspective. If it's carpal tunnel or something of the like, a wrist brace or kineseology tape might get you sorted out; your doc will be able to tell you. If it comes to that I'd probably try to find a good orthopedic guy. They are good with biomechanics and typically have experience with lots of different kinds of athletes.

    Cheers!

  13. #13
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    I did spend an hour or so at Plano Cyclery getting fit. They used plumb bob and angle measurements to get the seat positioned correctly. The tech did mention that the bars may be too wide for me, but to ride for a while before making any changes.

    From past road bike experience, when not on my aerobars, I did have some issues with this on my Kestrel KM-40, but a change in gloves seemed to make that go away (which is why I started here...). I do remember having to go to a longer reach stem on that bike to get the position correct, so it's very likely that a change in bar sweep or width could be needed. I have to take the machine back in for my free 30 day tune up and I'll ask their opinion then.

    Thanks for your detailed input. Much appreciated.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    I did spend an hour or so at Plano Cyclery getting fit. They used plumb bob and angle measurements to get the seat positioned correctly. The tech did mention that the bars may be too wide for me, but to ride for a while before making any changes...
    Smart.

    Most guys around me don't bother with a good fitting but I think they're invaluable. I'd still recommend being actively aware of your technique the next time you're out just in case but it seems like you might have found your issue.


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    I started developing a bit of a 'trigger finger' issue in my left pinky. So I moved my brake levers more inboard (for one finger braking), installed ODI Rogues, tilted my seat up a smidge and start focusing on using my core more instead of resting on the bars. It seems to have worked as I'm back to having almost no stiffness in my pinky.
    ^^ THIS. I'm 200-225 and 5'6" the weight room is my other hobby. So I tend to put more weight on my hands than most. A very slight tilt, propper brake angle and distance. Ad spacers a little at a time under the stem.

    You mentioned going down hill, bend your knees more, push you button back more, don't hold on too tight.

  16. #16
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    I'll add another vote for "technique" here. I'll go out on a limb a bit here and say that in a technical section (climbing OR descending) you should NEVER have weight on your hands. Your weight should ALWAYS be over your bottom bracket. With your body low and your torso hinged, you can push the bars down or pull them up to change the bike angle, but at no time are you actually resting weight on your bars. Think of shoving someone over vs. leaning on them. When you lean on them you are very unstable - if you give them a shove then you are the stable one.

    If your bike fits well, then you should be able to descend with no weight on the hands - and no numbness.

  17. #17
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    Rode again this weekend with better results. I did my best to focus on not leaning on the bars as much and paid much more attention to my grip (or lack thereof). Can definitely say that I never have "the death grip" on the bars. In fact, I'm pretty light in that area. Took the new bike into the LBS for a check-up and asked them about the fit. Although not stretched out, the bars might be a little low and wide for my longer torso. Going to ride another month before making any big changes to see if better balance helps. Thanks for all the advice here.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    Rode again this weekend with better results. I did my best to focus on not leaning on the bars as much and paid much more attention to my grip (or lack thereof). Can definitely say that I never have "the death grip" on the bars. In fact, I'm pretty light in that area. Took the new bike into the LBS for a check-up and asked them about the fit. Although not stretched out, the bars might be a little low and wide for my longer torso. Going to ride another month before making any big changes to see if better balance helps. Thanks for all the advice here.
    Awesome - best to make the changes incrementally as you are doing. One tip on fitting from the great book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills is that the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the line between the middle of your two grips should be the same as the distance from the ground to your knuckles if you are in a good deadlift stance (feet in pedal position, shoulders retracted, core engaged), with a bar in hand (preferably with a little weight on it so you are actually in a lifting stance).

    Check out this photo of Nicholi Rogatkin. Ignore the fact that he is upside down, and focus on the relationship between his feet and the handlebar - if you spun the photo around, and traded the bar out for an olympic power lifting bar, then he is doing a pretty solid deadlift. That is a good fit for having light hands, and being able to use your hips and glutes for pedaling power.

    Numb Hands - Big(er) Rider?-21617583_1644231852263233_4692579069570143911_n.jpg

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    Rode again this weekend with better results. I did my best to focus on not leaning on the bars as much and paid much more attention to my grip (or lack thereof). Can definitely say that I never have "the death grip" on the bars. In fact, I'm pretty light in that area. Took the new bike into the LBS for a check-up and asked them about the fit. Although not stretched out, the bars might be a little low and wide for my longer torso. Going to ride another month before making any big changes to see if better balance helps. Thanks for all the advice here.
    Do you have spacers on top of your stem? Put one under the stem and it can make a lot of difference.

  20. #20
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    I got a riser bar, ergon grips, and paid very close attention to making sure all of my controls were inline with my wrists.

  21. #21
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    No one has mentioned it I don't think but your suspension is really important. The amount of cushioning and vibration absorption provided by your grips is a tiny fraction of what your suspension can deliver. If your suspension isn't right no fancy grips are going to fix it.

    What suspension do you have and how is it set?

  22. #22
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    It could be any number of things. You've went to a bike fitter so sounds like you're making headway on this issue.

    Go for a ride without gloves if the numbness is still there; it's not the gloves.

    You could be death gripping the bar/brake levers on the descents causing numbness.

    Bar/stem height could be too long and low for you. Causing more weight to be placed on your hands.

  23. #23
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    Here's a final update for those that have been helping... I took my longest ride (8.1 miles) on Sunday morning with the only equipment change being a new set of ODI Rogue Grips. The grip diameter is marginally larger than the factory Specialized lock-ons but provides a different pattern and slightly softer to my touch. I paid even more attention to my body position and especially the amount of weight I was allowing on my hands/arms. I rode the same course as previous with the addition of another "more difficult" loop. The one or two times I started to feel some tingle in my hands, it was apparent that I was getting lazy and leaning too much on the bars. A shake and readjustment later, everything was back to just fine. Only problem now is that I get to deal with a sore core from engaging muscles that just aren't used to working...

    Thanks for the tips. I think I'm good from here.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    I paid even more attention to my body position and especially the amount of weight I was allowing on my hands/arms. I rode the same course as previous with the addition of another "more difficult" loop. The one or two times I started to feel some tingle in my hands, it was apparent that I was getting lazy and leaning too much on the bars. A shake and readjustment later, everything was back to just fine. Only problem now is that I get to deal with a sore core from engaging muscles that just aren't used to working...
    Sweet, sounds like things are improving! Your riding should start to get better too as you practice "light hands". A tired core is a good sign - you want your core and glutes to be most engaged as you ride, not so much biceps and quads (which are a lot weaker than your core and glutes).

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by srwatters View Post
    Here's a final update for those that have been helping... I took my longest ride (8.1 miles) on Sunday morning with the only equipment change being a new set of ODI Rogue Grips. The grip diameter is marginally larger than the factory Specialized lock-ons but provides a different pattern and slightly softer to my touch. I paid even more attention to my body position and especially the amount of weight I was allowing on my hands/arms. I rode the same course as previous with the addition of another "more difficult" loop. The one or two times I started to feel some tingle in my hands, it was apparent that I was getting lazy and leaning too much on the bars. A shake and readjustment later, everything was back to just fine. Only problem now is that I get to deal with a sore core from engaging muscles that just aren't used to working...

    Thanks for the tips. I think I'm good from here.
    That is interesting...I never considered this may be a factor in my numbness...

    I have the 34mm rogue odi and the ergon grips also. I cannot decide which I like better yet.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by phidauex View Post
    Sweet, sounds like things are improving! Your riding should start to get better too as you practice "light hands". A tired core is a good sign - you want your core and glutes to be most engaged as you ride, not so much biceps and quads (which are a lot weaker than your core and glutes).

    Along with a tight core, another thing I noticed as a heavier guy, we tend to tool along in easier gears. Or cost more. The act of pushing down with our legs helps lift our weight off our hands. So peddle more or harder helps.

  27. #27
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    I find gloves with too much padding (especially gel) fatigue my hands really fast because the padding is causing resistance to my grip. Loose fitting gloves suck too, try and find some that contour to your palm.

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