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Numbness in fingers and elbows - Glove recommendation

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Numbness in fingers and elbows - Glove recommendation

Old 07-19-21, 08:21 AM
  #1  
lyle.coop
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Numbness in fingers and elbows - Glove recommendation

I recently started road biking again. Rides are typically 20 miles, with a 40 miler on the weekends. I am not wearing gloves - b/c they are falling apart. I did feel some mild numbness on these rides, but the numb feeling dissipated quickly after the ride.

For the last 2 rides (20m, 40m) I flipped my stem (90mm, 10* ) right-side up. When it was upside down it gave me a more upright position. When I flipped the stem, my handlebar stack height was lowered by 22mm & my handlebar reach increased by 5mm. The position feels great - i'm riding faster with less quad soreness post ride. I feel I'm generating more power from my hips.

On the 40 mile ride is I was feeling numbness in both hands. (Pinky and ring finger). It was worse on my left hand. After the ride my left elbow was numb. It's the ulnar nerve.

Does anyone have a good padded half finger glove recommendation?


Stem is Upside down

Stem is right side up.
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Old 07-19-21, 09:39 AM
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Numbness often means too much weight on your hands. Flipping the stem like you did will do that, being lower in front will shift weight forward and down onto your hands. I had numbness and flipping my stem to make the bars higher solved it.

I would strongly suggest a bike fit, well worth the money and they may find other issues as well.
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Old 07-19-21, 09:47 AM
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I second the bike fit suggestion - numbness is not because you are or aren't wearing gloves. Particularly after only 20-40 miles.

But by all means, get a pair of gloves - there's plenty of other reasons to wear them, though I know people who are happier without them. Just go to your LBS and find something that fits. If it's your first pair, don't order online because fit is important.
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Old 07-19-21, 10:02 AM
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I don't consider weight on my hands bad. (Tall, lean, skinny and under-powered. A really bad upwind combination.) But ... I have to play with the rotation of the handlebars and location of the brake levers to get my wrist angle just right or I pay the price, both while riding and after. For me, that means rotating my wrist down so my thumb is forward and my pinky back. My handlebars are rotated down considerably more than yours and my levers are lower with the tops of the hoods being more horizontal than yours.

You might want to do what I do when I set bikes up. Go for your first guess at bar and lever positions. Lay a yardstick under the flats of the handlebar drops and place a piece of tape on the seatstay where it hits. Go for a ride with the wrenches to adjust the handlebar rotation. (I do this with no handlebar tape, just enough electrical tape to secure the brake/derailleur cable housings.) Stop and play with the rotation (and brake hood location if you removed the tape) until your hands are happy. I then use adhesive cloth tape which is easy to unwrap to move the levers and re-wrap. Get everything just right then I can splurge and put on the good stuff.

Edit: I always wear gloves. A toasted pair after a crash is a pair that has served me well. More comfortable, less chafe also. I second going to a shop. The correlation between price and quality is loose at best. Some of they most comfortable and durable gloves I've owned have been the very cheap Forte brand ones.

Last edited by 79pmooney; 07-19-21 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 07-19-21, 11:28 AM
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One idea to increase the handlebar stack height is to get a lower stack height stem. But my current stem has a stack height of 40mm. And the lowest stack height stem I've been able to find is a thomson x2. 35mm. That doesn't give me a lot of adjustment options.

Another option is a stem with a lower stem angle. Or an adjustable angle stem.

@79pmooney - I could roll the handlebars back a little bit. That might alleviate the upper body weight pressure on the hoods.

I'll get a pair of padded gloves.

Thanks
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Old 07-19-21, 12:00 PM
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You might put your saddle back on the middle of the rails and try that for a while. Sometimes setback and balancing in the saddle don't help what you think they'll help. To me, it's really more about how you balance over the BB when putting out the normal power you develop for most of your ride.

And do you tend to ride on the hoods all the time? Maybe some bars with a shallower drop will encourage you to change hand positions more often.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:08 PM
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Shaking your hands vigorously occasionally may help more than padded gloves. FWIW, I hear the cool guys are not wearing gloves this year.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by lyle.coop View Post
One idea to increase the handlebar stack height is to get a lower stack height stem. But my current stem has a stack height of 40mm. And the lowest stack height stem I've been able to find is a thomson x2. 35mm. That doesn't give me a lot of adjustment options.

Another option is a stem with a lower stem angle. Or an adjustable angle stem.

@79pmooney - I could roll the handlebars back a little bit. That might alleviate the upper body weight pressure on the hoods.

I'll get a pair of padded gloves.

Thanks
Rolling the bars back is exactly what doesn't work for me. That cocks my wrist back. Guaranteed issues for me. If I want less weight on my hands, I have to raise the entire bar with spacers or a higher rise stem.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:51 PM
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There's lots of experienced advice here, and I get the feeling that the OP is a DIY kind of guy, but I'd like to repeat the suggestion of a bike fit. Even highly knowledgeable riders benefit from them.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:02 PM
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This is almost always a problem that can be solved by a proper bike fit.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:18 PM
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I have to echo the bike fit advice and would advise caution on just trying to go the route of padded gloves. I did my fitting myself and went down the rabbit hole and worked on my fit one aspect at a time. My fit may not be completely dialed as if I went to a pro, but I spent a lot of time sifting through the available information and worked through it carefully.

My hand numbness was really bad and part of it was from past trauma. Getting my fit dialed in (as much as I could do it myself) and working on my position almost completely cleared up my hand numbness. I still get a bit of numbness on long descents where I'm in the drops for long periods of time, but it is MUCH improved to the point of not being an issue.

I personally find that padded gloves make the numbness worse as it increases the pressure on the nerves in your hands. I've been wearing unpadded gloves for a while now and no numbness (and loving the bar feel).

I put on a pair of my padded gloves for a ride the other day and I had a few times where my hands got numb from the pressure of the padding.
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Old 07-19-21, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Rolling the bars back is exactly what doesn't work for me. That cocks my wrist back. Guaranteed issues for me. If I want less weight on my hands, I have to raise the entire bar with spacers or a higher rise stem.
Exactly. I see so many road handlebars setup with the ramps parallel to the ground. Mine came like that from REI too. After I rolled the bars forwards so that the drops are more or less parallel with the slanted top tube of the bike, and move the hoods back and up toward the tops, the decreased reach was more comfortable and allowed me to flip the stem to lower my torso without getting all stretched out. For reference, I use the terms "ramps" and "drops" as shown here:

Drop Bar Hand Positions: an Introduction (lovelybike.blogspot.com)
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Old 07-19-21, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by KJ43 View Post
I have to echo the bike fit advice and would advise caution on just trying to go the route of padded gloves. I did my fitting myself and went down the rabbit hole and worked on my fit one aspect at a time. My fit may not be completely dialed as if I went to a pro, but I spent a lot of time sifting through the available information and worked through it carefully.

My hand numbness was really bad and part of it was from past trauma. Getting my fit dialed in (as much as I could do it myself) and working on my position almost completely cleared up my hand numbness. I still get a bit of numbness on long descents where I'm in the drops for long periods of time, but it is MUCH improved to the point of not being an issue.

I personally find that padded gloves make the numbness worse as it increases the pressure on the nerves in your hands. I've been wearing unpadded gloves for a while now and no numbness (and loving the bar feel).

I put on a pair of my padded gloves for a ride the other day and I had a few times where my hands got numb from the pressure of the padding.
This is my experience. Every padded glove makes any numbness issue worse. That's why I went to gloves with no padding at all.
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Old 07-19-21, 03:08 PM
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I can tell you that addressing numbness in the hands is not always simple and straightforward. I got a new Canyon last year, and when I went for my first ride on it, I ran it with all the spacers under the stem. My hands kept getting numb, which was disheartening, having just spent that much on a bike I'd bought sight unseen, and choosing a size based on calculations from my other bikes. I measured it again, and found that the saddle-to-bar drop was about an inch less than my other bikes. So I moved the stem down 2.5 cm and the numbness problems went away.

One observation is you have a setback seatpost clamping the rails at the very front, so your saddle is WAY back. If you're riding on the hoods, can you sit up without pushing off the bar? Or remove your hands from the bar without falling forward?
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Old 07-19-21, 03:13 PM
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Since it sounds like you don't want to get a bike fit I would watch a few videos on the numb hands problem to get an idea of some of the subtleties.





Etc. The first video is Neill Stanbury, perhaps the best bike fitter on YouTube.
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Old 07-19-21, 03:26 PM
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If your elbows are going numb you have might have neck trouble vs hand trouble.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
You might put your saddle back on the middle of the rails and try that for a while. Sometimes setback and balancing in the saddle don't help what you think they'll help. To me, it's really more about how you balance over the BB when putting out the normal power you develop for most of your ride.

And do you tend to ride on the hoods all the time? Maybe some bars with a shallower drop will encourage you to change hand positions more often.
I totally forgot I had the seat slammed all the way back. Moving it forward will decrease my reach and let my elbow bend a bit more. That might help. From what I've read though, moving the seat forward increases the weight placed on the hands and into the handlebars.

I ride on the hoods most of the time. Flat's occasionally on the hills, and drops on the descents.


It looks like I have a lot of room for adjustment. How many mm of adjustment is suggested for the first round of adjustments? 10mm or more?

Thanks

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Old 07-20-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I can tell you that addressing numbness in the hands is not always simple and straightforward. I got a new Canyon last year, and when I went for my first ride on it, I ran it with all the spacers under the stem. My hands kept getting numb, which was disheartening, having just spent that much on a bike I'd bought sight unseen, and choosing a size based on calculations from my other bikes. I measured it again, and found that the saddle-to-bar drop was about an inch less than my other bikes. So I moved the stem down 2.5 cm and the numbness problems went away.

One observation is you have a setback seatpost clamping the rails at the very front, so your saddle is WAY back. If you're riding on the hoods, can you sit up without pushing off the bar? Or remove your hands from the bar without falling forward?
Glad to hear dropping the stem helped. But wouldn't lowering the stem, cause you to put more weight onto the handlebars? Which in turn would cause more pressure on the hands?

Regarding my saddle position, I am going to move it forward a bit to see if that helps. I can sit up and ride with no hands, but I'm not sure if i'm pushing off to get upright. I will test that out on my next ride.

Congrats on the Canyon Endurace!!! I'm eyeing the Canyon Ultimate. All sold out for now unfortunately.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
Since it sounds like you don't want to get a bike fit I would watch a few videos on the numb hands problem to get an idea of some of the subtleties.
Thanks Scott. Those were some great videos. I'll have to watch them again to get some of the finer points. There are so many moving parts.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:30 AM
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Moving the saddle forward can also allow you to put more power into the cranks while in a more aero positions. More power means less weight on butt and hands if your balance over the BB is correct.

If you ever find yourself unintentionally sliding forward on the saddle when developing power, then sometimes that is an indication your are not balanced over the BB for the power you normally put out. Sometimes it's other stuff that causes you to slide forward.

How many mm of adjustment is suggested for the first round of adjustments? 10mm or more?
I might overshoot it and go straight to the middle. Then I'll be able to see a drastic result more immediately. Then maybe correct half the previous change each time.

But if every movement is not better, then maybe you really need to push the saddle way forward which is where mine is right now till my shorter stem comes in.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:35 AM
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Do an internet search on cubital tunnel syndrome. This is caused by nerve entrapment at the elbow.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by lyle.coop View Post
Glad to hear dropping the stem helped. But wouldn't lowering the stem, cause you to put more weight onto the handlebars? Which in turn would cause more pressure on the hands?

Regarding my saddle position, I am going to move it forward a bit to see if that helps. I can sit up and ride with no hands, but I'm not sure if i'm pushing off to get upright. I will test that out on my next ride.

Congrats on the Canyon Endurace!!! I'm eyeing the Canyon Ultimate. All sold out for now unfortunately.
See, that's why I said it's not necessarily simple. Yes, testing whether you can sit up without pushing off, or even just lift both hands off the hoods without falling forward, will tell you a lot about how much you're weighting your hands.

Thanks for the congrats! I just beat the rising wave of bike sales in June of 2020. I was dithering as I saw the stock dwindle, disappearing from the bottom of the range upward. I think I got the next to last CF SL 7.0 Disk in Large in the US. If I'd dithered another day or so I would have had to justify another 600 dollars for the 8.0.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for all the replies.

I know a lot of you have suggested to get a professional fitting and I do think that it is sound advice. I'm planning on getting a new bike within the next 45 days or so. I'm waiting for the Canyon Ultimate to become available. (Allegedly ~45 days from today.) At that point I'm selling the Specialized. So I'd like to see what I can accomplish on my own in terms of fitting the bike.

I "restarted" riding road in mid-June. I got about 450 miles until this past weekend. No pain in my hands or elbows or anywhere else. Occasional hand tingling, but nothing a good shake didn't resolve. So that setup didn't hurt me. But it wasn't very aero.

This past weekend, I changed my setup. I did a 20 miler, no problem. I did the 40 miler and the irritation in my hands was noticeable. My left elbow didn't feel great after the ride. Tingling on the medial side. I decided not to ride Monday and today. The elbow pain /tingling is settling down. I can still feel some slight tingling in my pinky and ring finger.

Others here have suggested moving my seat up on the rails. I'll give that a shot.

Another idea is flipping the stem to the less aero position and removing some of the spacers below it. So instead of dropping the handlebar stack 22mm, I'll shoot for 11mm.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Moving the saddle forward can also allow you to put more power into the cranks while in a more aero positions. More power means less weight on butt and hands if your balance over the BB is correct.

If you ever find yourself unintentionally sliding forward on the saddle when developing power, then sometimes that is an indication your are not balanced over the BB for the power you normally put out. Sometimes it's other stuff that causes you to slide forward.


I might overshoot it and go straight to the middle. Then I'll be able to see a drastic result more immediately. Then maybe correct half the previous change each time.

But if every movement is not better, then maybe you really need to push the saddle way forward which is where mine is right now till my shorter stem comes in.
Great advice. Thank you!!!

Why does more power means less weight on butt and hands? Now that I think about it, I do find myself pushing my butt back ever so slightly, which probably means I slide forward at some point.
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Old 07-20-21, 11:06 AM
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As the OP says, there are many moving parts. Typically, saddle position is determined by its relation to the pedals and crank - making sure that the knees are in the right position when the foot is forward and that the leg angle isn't too large or small at the bottom of the pedal stroke. From there, upper torso position is adjusted by adjustments to the front end plus saddle tilt.

Yeah, if you're getting rid of this bike in 2 months, then no point in getting a pro fit. But soonish.

BTW, in the summer months, some of the more popular bike fitters in my area are booked out weeks in advance. Plan ahead.
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