I have noticed for a few weeks now that while I ride on the trainer, I get a very slight numbness in just my right hand. This can last for several hours even up to all day after riding, although it’s not quite 'pins and needles" so much as weird, tough to describe sensation in just my right hand. I also notice that my right hand is noticeably cold for several hours after riding, much colder than my left hand. I notice some tightness in my right shoulder as well. It is not localized to my pinky finger, which would point to ulnar nerve problems) but rather my whole hand
Surely this is some type of nerve issue and probably related to bike fit. I did get a fit done a few months ago and can still go in for a follow-up, but I am wondering if anyone else has experienced a similar problem and has any advice. Also wondering if this is something I should talk to a doctor about right away before trying to address fit issues. Finally, anyone have thoughts on if it’s something I can work through with stretching/exercise massage?
Note that I’m a triathlete putting in pretty high volume on bike and running, a little bit of swimming (pool closures) and the problem only seems to be sparked from the bike. I do my best to change hand position, work in and out of aero position, even shake and stretch out my arm while riding, but it seems to persist regardless.
Thanks in advance for any advice
try elevating your front tire. indoors doesn’t have the wind drag holding weight off your hands, raising the front wheel is an easy way to try and compensate for this.
Interesting. I do have a riser block that brings my front wheel up an inch or two, but this just makes my bike level at best. Maybe I’ll experiment raising it up another inch
Yep. Get the weight off your hands.
As above, I have a theory about lack of wind resistance I developed years ago.
When you have a bike that is perfectly comfortable outside, and then leads to problems when ridden inside, I feel it is important to look at what is different. When you do, there are two key differences.
- Lack of wind resistance on the body riding inside. That is a difference that I find because you end up with slightly more weight on the hands and arms, because you don’t have the wind pushing your upper body back.
- To compensate for that, I recommend that people raise the front axle about 1"-2" [25mm-50mm] higher than the rear axle. This shifts the weight slightly back onto the saddle and off the hands and arms.
Additionally, that leads into my typical rocker plate discussion, but will leave that out other than to mention the typical inside riding practice. Most people tend to “lock in” when they get on a trainer inside. They don’t stand or move around on the bike nearly as often as they might when riding outside. This includes hand positions on the bars. We might end up staying in a single position far longer than we do outside.
So, make sure to be “active” and make a variety of position changes (body and hands) to alter the loading on your body. Most of what you describe sounds like a blood flow restriction (numb and cold) which means you are likely pinching the flow of in your hand. Move around and get the weight off the hands (via higher front axle compared to rear) and see how that works.
I had this earlier this year; I developed substantial numbness, and weakness in the extensor muscles. My GP was concerned to the point where I was sent for an urgent neurological referral. It came on after a substantial mileage increase during lockdown, so I wasn’t too concerned.
The neuro - a cyclist himself, it turned out - diagnosed this (in about 5 minutes) as an injury to the deep ulnar nerve, specifically where it branched in the Guyon(?) canal.
He prescribed raising the bars as high as they would go, and I was restricted to riding on the tops only (unless dangerous) for a month, as well as certain exercises. Then to work back to ‘normal’ slowly, and only if the numbness/weakness didn’t return. He estimated 4 weeks for substantial improvement, 3-6 months for complete recovery, without about a 10% chance that this wouldn’t heal without surgery.
It improved massively in about 4 weeks and resolved completely in about 10. My bars are now almost back where they were.
This sounds like the same thing I’m dealing with, thanks for sharing your experience. Fortunately I don’t think my case is as severe just yet. I did raise my front wheel about 2 inches and did a ride yesterday and today, feeing better already. Also making sure to change hand positions and shake/stretch the arms out more frequently
Great, thanks so much, this is all immensely helpful.
I went ahead and put my wheel riser block on a 2x4 to raise it a couple inches and have done two rides like that. I am already noticing some improvement. Also making sure to change hand position, shake and stretch the arms, and get out of the saddle more frequently.
These homemade rocker plates are very cool, thank you for sharing. This could be my holiday project
This is quite similar to what I was told to do. Disclaimer: I had a specific diagnosis.
Good video link. Thanks!
I’m an Audax / Randonneur rider and my long rides put the pinkies to sleep for months, so I’m definitely going to give this flossing technique a try.
Which exercises were you prescribed? I have numbness directly in the inner elbow of my left arm, where the ulnar nerve is and feel numbness also during the day from the fingertips up to my shoulder.
I will try raising the front wheel and the saddle, if the wheel doesn’t help.
I’m curious what the exercises were though.
Thanks for sharing
Hi. Did you see the video I linked a few posts up? The neuro demonstrated them to me but the ones in the video are very similar.
Just note that I had a specific diagnosis of damage to the ulnar nerve where it branches in the Guyon canal in the wrist; I’m not sure how applicable the exercises are if you’re getting issues as high as the elbow/shoulder.
Hey, yes, I saw the video. In fact, these are already part of my stretching routine, so I’m glad.
The problem is, that I stopped doing my stretching so frequently as I want to, because my 18 m.o. daughter requires a lot of my time
I had numbness in the tops of my feet a few years ago. Was really weird because the sheets at night would give it away as I couldn’t feel them on my skin quite right. A few shoe changes later, completely gone. I think most of the time these things have a cause that can be addressed. I hope the advice above helps.