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I'm a relatively new cyclist (started about 4 months ago). Lately, I've noticed that I have numbness and tension/pain in my left hand (but not my right one) throughout my ride. Every 15-20 minutes or so I have to take my left hand off the bike and stretch my fingers a bit. I feel like there is some kind of imbalance in the way I ride, but I can't pinpoint what it is or how to correct it. Can anyone suggest things I can do to try to fix this?

In case it's relevant, here's some random info on my riding. I'm not doing super-long distances or anything -- I ride about 10 miles 4 days a week and maybe 30 miles once a week (and this is near Houston, so there are no hills). I've been riding a Specialized Secteur Sport which was fitted for me at my LBS (though this was not a very intense fitting -- it took maybe 15-20 minutes).

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Where exactly on the left hand? –  cherouvim Jul 25 '13 at 5:25
    
I have tingling/numbness on the entire hand, and pain in the wrist and between the thumb and index finger. –  Andy Putman Jul 25 '13 at 5:32
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What kind of handlebar? Gloves? Can you/do you change hand positions regularly. What is the height of the handlebar vs the height of the seat? Where precisely is the pain/numbness -- wrist? heel? fingers? crotch of thumb? –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 25 '13 at 12:56
    
Lots of helpful answers -- I had trouble accepting just one! Thanks to all. –  Andy Putman Jul 25 '13 at 17:04
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Based on your comment about where your pain centers, it sounds as though your median nerve is acting up. The likeliest causes of this for a cyclist are leaning too hard on the slight depression in the middle of the base of your palm, OR a hand position that twists your hands (inward/outward and/or up/down) relative to your wrists. Check for these next time you ride.

Do see a doctor if you can (you may have to be firm about being referred to a physical therapist or sports-medicine expert). It's easiest to deal with this soon after it is noticed, certainly before it is debilitating. (Which it can be. My non-cycling-caused ulnar neuropathy had me holding my hand against myself so no one would so much as touch it, and it took six solid months of punishing therapeutic massage -- don't be fooled; physical-therapy massage is NOT gentle or enjoyable! -- to rid me of it.)

Varying your hand positions may help avoid the problem in future; I would recommend ESPECIALLY avoiding the brake hoods, as they can hit RIGHT where you don't want them to. Your bicycle has drop bars, so you can experiment. I have found that my Velo Orange trekking bars somehow manage to avoid ever letting me rest my hand on that central depression, and allow at least two neutral hand-wrist positions, so changing bars might also help you.

Why left hand rather than right? It may not be anything in your cycling, though you can certainly watch for something. Our bodies aren't perfectly symmetrical, and general stress on them isn't either.

Good luck! I hope you resolve this quickly and as painlessly as possible.

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If the saddle is too high and the handle bars are not positioned appropriately, you may be exerting a fair amount of weight on your hands. Check if the handle bars are centered. Check if you are sitting properly centered on the saddle, slight lean can cause uneven distribution of weight at your hands.

Are you left handed and use computer mouse often?

Above mentioned are the things I would check. In any case, don't neglect it.

I would strongly recommend that you consult a doctor.

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I'm right handed. I'll check my position and centering when I ride tomorrow. Is there anything I need to have my doctor check in particular? I'm in my mid 30's and in fairly good physical shape (aside from being slightly overweight; I'm 5'11'' and 190 pounds). –  Andy Putman Jul 25 '13 at 5:54
    
As 'dsalo' points out, the soft part of your palm between thumb and index finger is a vulnerable position. It is more so because that is how most would approach the brake hoods. My wrist pain reduced after I started resting my 'karate chopping' part of my hand on the handle bars and put less pressure on soft palm of your hand. –  Akshay Jul 25 '13 at 15:33
    
Be sure to point out your physical activity and try to observe if you are doing anything during the day that may stress your left hand; before you go to a doctor. –  Akshay Jul 25 '13 at 15:39
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Also check that the handlebars and forks are aligned properly. I'd the bike came straight from the shop it ought to be ok tho. –  JamesBradbury Jul 25 '13 at 21:52
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  • Check your brakes, maybe they lack braking force and you squeeze them way too hard
  • Adjust your riding position to the best practices (google it)
  • Get a nice pair of grips
  • Same thing about riding gloves

If nothing helps - consult your physician.

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I found something similar with the stock grips on my GT Traffic hybrid even with decent padding on the palms of my gloves. I switched to something like these ergo grips with mini bar ends built in - I think mine were the old version - and have had no issues since. You do need to get the angle of both palm-pad and bar end right for you, and probably brakes as well.

I don't really use the bar ends on my commute - too far from the brakes given the riding conditions for much of the route - so it's the grips that do it for me.

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All answers given are ok with me, I only wanted to add, Softer grips can make a big difference and break bar position might be too high/low for you. Don't wait too long to see that Doctor.

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