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How To Prevent Numb Hands When Cycling


Cycling is one of the best ways to spend time outside and stay in shape, but many cyclists deal with numb hands, especially during longer rides. Many cyclists wonder if there is a way to prevent this numbness, or if they are just stuck with it. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent numb hands when cycling.

Here are a few ways to help manage numb hands when cycling: 

  1. Move your hands regularly while riding.
  2. Adjust your bike, so you sit upright. 
  3. Wear padded gloves. 
  4. Keep your arms relaxed. 
  5. Get better grips for your handlebars. 
  6. Strengthen your hands with exercises. 
  7. Try to change your hand position. 
  8. Get your bike professionally fitted. 
  9. Work to loosen your grip.

Finding what works to fix your numbness can be a challenge. What may work for others may not work for you. Read on for ideas on how to prevent numb hands when cycling.

1. Move Your Hands Regularly While Riding

During a bike ride, it can be easy to focus on your journey and what’s around you, but to prevent numbness in your hands, it’s important to also focus on hand positioning. Keeping your hands in one place while riding can cause numbness because of the constant pressure being put on your wrists and hands.

So, the best way to avoid this is to keep moving your hands around during your ride.

Sometimes when cycling, we can put a lot of pressure on our hands, and one of the fastest ways to alleviate that pressure is to simply move our hands. At first, you may not remember to move them frequently.

So, try to get into the habit of moving your hands at certain intervals in your bike ride to help improve circulation and to make sure you aren’t putting too much weight on your wrists.

It can often be hard to sense when numbness begins, making it difficult to know when you should be moving your hands. Don’t let this frustrate you. The idea is to get ahead of the numbness. You want to prevent the numbness rather than reacting to it. Once it starts, it can be tough to power through and wait for it to stop.

So, try your best to move your hands enough before feeling numbness to prevent it from happening during your ride. 

Keep in mind that if you move your hands while riding and your body falls forward, that means you are putting too much weight on your hands. So, if you are having trouble keeping your hands mobile, try to move your body to accommodate your upper body weight.

Moving your hands is the best way to ensure that they don’t get numb and make sure you aren’t putting too much weight on them. 

2. Adjust Your Bike, So You Sit Upright

Although you may be comfortable with how you sit on your bike, it may not be the best position for you. If your body is leaning forward too far, then you may be putting more stress on your hands and wrists. Correcting your posture, like sitting upright, could be the key to getting rid of that numbness.

Proper bike posture is hard to perfect, especially if you already have a comfortable method that you use. However, it is vital to find the most comfortable position for you that also doesn’t cause any pain or numbness during your ride. 

The United States Olympic Committee suggests that your torso should only be slightly angled forward with very little pressure on your hands and wrists. You want to be comfortable without putting too much pressure on your hands because that is where your numbness comes from.

Alleviating that pressure will help your numbness and overall lead to a more comfortable ride. 

So, try to correct your posture by not bending down as far. The key is that you should be able to release the handlebars without your body falling forward. If this happens upon release, that means you are putting too much pressure on your hands and need to sit more upright.

3. Wear Padded Gloves

Padded gloves are a great way to help loosen your grip, especially if your hands get sweaty when riding. Sweaty hands create slippery grips, and before you know it, you have to hold on tighter than you normally would. That tight hold can cause hand numbness.

Gloves help alleviate that tight grip because if your hands sweat, they only do so in the glove. Also, cycling gloves come with grips that allow you to have a tighter hold without much effort.

So, rather than holding on as tightly as you are without gloves, you can ease your grip. Though gloves certainly feel different than riding with your bare hands, it’s worth getting used to them.

Finding the right size glove can be a challenge, and the wrong size can actually make your numbness worse. If your gloves are too loose, then they will make your hands slide around inside of them. Loose gloves will make your grip even tighter because you are compensating for the loose glove.

Road Cycling Gloves with Padding

Wearing gloves that are too tight can cause numbness and loss of circulation. So, make sure that your gloves are tight enough to stay on but are not uncomfortable when your fist is closed.

Riding gloves come in many different styles, and it may seem overwhelming to find the right one for you. If you want your hands to be cooler, then try gloves with the fingers cut out.

But remember that those gloves are not going to protect you if you have an accident. So, make sure when you are looking for the right fit that your gloves also offer protection. 

4. Keep Your Arms Relaxed

While a tight grip and locked arms may seem to give you better control, it is not the proper way to cycle. Keeping your arms relaxed helps you take unnecessary pressure off of your hands and wrists. 

Hand numbness isn’t only caused by your grip. Vibrations are another factor to consider when it comes to numbness or any discomfort in your hands and wrists. Most surfaces that you ride on create vibrations — so, it’s best to be prepared for them rather than trying to avoid them.

Road Cyclist with Relaxed Arms

Vibrations can be managed with a proper riding stance. Making sure that your arms and elbows are relaxed rather than tight can help tremendously. Keeping your arms tight and elbows locked forces your hands to absorb more vibrations.

So, be sure to keep your arms relaxed and don’t lock your elbows. 

If you normally have tight or strained arms, then relaxing them during your ride should make you feel different right away. Remember, you should be able to release your grip, and your body should not fall forward.

If it does, this means you are putting too much weight and pressure on your hands which should be distributed through your body. So, keeping those arms relaxed will allow you to get rid of that numbness and ensure your posture is correct. 

5. Get Better Grips for Your Handle Bars

The main factor in choosing a grip should be comforting. Grips are where your hands are going to be throughout your bike ride. So, you want to ensure the grips for your handle bars are comfortable.

Another important factor is size. You don’t want a grip that is too small for your hand. This would create more pressure on your wrist which can cause numbness and even pain. 

There are also two ways that grips are attached to handlebars. Friction grips are attached without any adhesive and use friction to stay in place — this means that they can move around when wet. So, if you plan on riding your bike in any rainy or wet condition, it may not be best to use friction grips. 

Lock-in grips are the second method of attaching. These do not rely on friction. Instead, they are attached with clamps.

Lock-in grips are more reliable than friction when it comes to moving around if they get wet. So, lock-in grips are better for your hands and wrists. 

There are many different variations of grips for your bicycle. So, don’t be afraid to shop around. The most important factor is getting the most comfortable grip for you that fits your hand.

Beyond that, it is just about preference. Gloves can also help you hold on to your grip a little better. So, consider trying a new grip and new gloves and seeing how the combination works to fix your numbness.

6. Strengthen Your Hands With Exercise

We all know that riding a bike is great exercise, and many of us don’t consider doing other exercises in between. If you are getting numbness in your hands, then you need to consider some hand exercises to help strengthen your hands. 

There are plenty of different exercises to choose from, and as long as you’re using a reliable source, you can get them from almost anywhere. Many exercises that are used for carpal tunnel patients are also helpful for tingling and numbness during bike rides.

Suppose you want a solid exercise program to get you started; Livestrong has a great article on their website that breaks down the exercises for you. It even tells you how many of each exercise to do. So, check it out if you want to start to improve your hand numbness when biking.

Keep in mind that exercises should be done regularly to consistently alleviate your numbness. Exercises should not be used only when the numbness occurs but as a regular practice in order to keep the numbness away. 

 7. Try To Change Your Hand Position

Each cyclist has their own preferred grip when it comes to riding, and it can be difficult to imagine changing it up. However, other positions may actually turn out to be more comfortable for you, and they may allow you to release some of the strain on your hands. 

Road Cyclist with Hands on Brake Hoods

Different positions can increase blood flow to your hands while decreasing pressure, both of which help with numbness. It can be hard to change what you are so used to. Make sure you try any new hand position on a safe trail, just if it affects your confidence when you try it for the first time.

Though it may not be easy at first, trying different hand positions has a lot of benefits.

While they may be difficult to get used to, different positions can protect your hands in ways more than just limited numbness. Resting your hands on the hoods of your brake or in the hooks can help protect your hand if anything happens during your ride.

So, you should consider changing positions for comfort, numbness, and safety.

8. Get Your Bike Professionally Fitted

Riding the wrong size bike can cause many issues with your body, including hand numbness. Without the right fit, your body weight will not be distributed properly, and you won’t be able to have a proper stance during your ride.

Getting your bike professionally fitted can give you a better idea of why you have hand numbness. If your handlebars are too low compared to your seat, that can cause you to put more weight on your hands. Getting your bike fitted can help you get the right adjustments made so you can be more comfortable during your rides. 

Many local bike shops will do a bike fitting for you for a reasonable price. If you’re having trouble finding a local bike shop near you, then call around to local athletic stores and see if they can help you. Finding a shop that can do it shouldn’t be difficult.

If all else fails, seek out the place you purchased the bike and see how they can help you.

Making sure your bike is properly fitted is vital in ensuring that your body weight is correctly distributed. Sometimes, it is as simple as having your seat lowered or raised to correct your posture, but no one will know better than an expert. So, get your posture and numbness fixed with professional sizing. 

9. Work To Loosen Your Grip

A lot of what helps get rid of numbness is just correcting tiny mistakes you make as you ride. Sometimes bad habits can get in the way of a comfortable bike ride, and a tight grip can cause many issues. 

The tricky part of learning to loosen your grip is that it may feel unsafe at first. We always feel like we have more control over our bikes when we are holding on tighter, especially on tough terrain. However, that intense control could be causing your hand numbness. 

Remember that your hands should be resting on the grips and not supporting your upper body. You should be able to loosen your grip comfortably without your upper body reacting. If it causes your body to come forward, then you have too much pressure on your hands and wrists.

Your hands are there to guide the bike — it’s like when we first learned to drive, and we all used to white-knuckle the steering wheel. Now, we understand that isn’t necessary. It is also not necessary for riding a bike.

So, work on loosening your grip, and it will help the numbness in your hands by removing unnecessary pressure. 

How To Stop Numb Hands When Cycling for Good

The best way to stop numb hands when cycling, and see long-term results, is to try each of these steps regularly when you’re setting out on the bike. A combination of these tips and methods will ensure your hands have constant circulation while you’re riding, giving you more comfort and flexibility during long distance treks.

Final Thoughts

There are many things that can be causing your numbness, and that makes it difficult to diagnose just one issue. So, try the ideas above to ensure you are getting the most out of your bike rides and get back to the thing you love without fear of numbness. If the numbness persists or goes beyond just riding, make sure you see your doctor.

Other articles you may find interesting:

11 Tips for Overcoming Cycling Fatigue

How to Strengthen Your Lower Back for Cycling

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