Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Combating Arm and Hand Numbness

Three different pair of riding gloves
During the first couple of rides my first season after getting back into cycling, I occasionally experienced hand and arm numbness after the first several miles of a longer ride. After reading Bicycling Magazine’s New Cyclist Handbook I learned that this was common and there were ways to prevent it. “Change hand position frequently to prevent finger numbness and upper-body stiffness.”  (p. 31)

Padding helps relieve pressure and soften vibration
Following the above advice I learned to change my grip often by relaxing my grip, using different parts of my hand to grip the handlebars, for instance sometimes using just fingers with no palms, and when safe, riding with just one hand while relaxing and flexing the other hand. I also learned to change my grip by gripping different parts of the handlebar, sometimes just the outside ends. I have learned to change my grip every few minutes, before my hands or arms start feeling numb, and have not experienced any numb hands or numb arms since.

I also bought a pair of padded riding gloves. I tried three pair before finally settling on a pair of gloves I really liked, but all three pair made a difference. Their shock absorbing pads help dampen vibrations and spread out the pressure on pressure points. The gloves also help keep my hands warm when it is cool (I use the full fingered gloves when it is really cold) and absorb sweat when it is hot. They also protect against possible cuts and abrasions in the event of a crash or close encounter with a bush.

Here are links to previous posts in the series:

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