Question: After about 30 minutes of riding, my hands get so numb and tingly that I can’t shift gears. My handlebar is level with the saddle. Can you help? — David W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You’ve already done one key thing to prevent hand numbness — raise the handlebar. Doing so stops you from putting excessive weight on your hands that compresses nerves and blood vessels. So there must be another cause. Here are some suggestions to help you figure this out:
- Move your hands frequently. Switch your grip from the hoods to the drops to the flats next to the stem, then back again. Don’t leave your hands in one place long enough for tingling to develop.
- Change your grip. Hold the bar in a way that limits pressure on the center of the heel of your hand. That’s where you’re most susceptible to numbing nerve compression.
- Pad your hands and/or handlebar. Sometimes wearing gel gloves or using gel handlebar tape will stop numbness by softening pressure and damping vibration.
- Check your saddle angle. If the nose is tilted down, it can cause you to slide forward. This puts extra weight on your hands and stresses your arms and shoulders, too.
- Consider aero bars. When using them, all hand pressure is relieved. Weight is borne by your forearms.
- Get a hand exam. Numbness in just 30 minutes of riding is unusual. If it also persists long after rides, check with a physician to rule out an underlying cause.