For context, started training a couple of years ago with many years of athletic competitions under my belt, started mountain biking about a year and a half ago as another way to be a well-rounded cyclist. Enjoyed it immensely. Over time, I gradually got better and better about putting out power in a more aero, dropped position on my road bike. Training volume went up gradually. Generally doing just fine.
Then I started getting numbness in a classic carpal tunnel pattern during an XC race about 5 weeks ago on my right (dominant) side when putting down big efforts. I thought it was just numbness related to handlebar/grip positioning, but then I also noticed some strange sensations in my other fingers sometimes, also that it was immediately worsened/recreated in certain arm/neck positions. Took a few days off, felt better, then had it immediately return when I tried to do some endurance on the trainer. Numbness/pain immediately recreated by dropping my shoulder, outstretching arm, and extending neck (rolling head back), basically the position of riding in the drops on a road bike.
I don’t have any other carpal tunnel problems, no neck pain, no weakness, no sharp pain, just a general numbness. After talking with some a neurologist friend, the pattern would be most consistent with a brachial plexus (lower root) irritation/stretching created by riding with arms low and neck extended over time. These injuries are evidently common in high-energy crashes (motorcycles, ATVs, etc), and they can be devastating. Obviously mine is extremely mild comparatively, but still on that spectrum.
Anyone else ever experience this?
Also, this experience may serve as a warning…more aero doesn’t always work out.