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I recently noticed that towards the end of my 6.4 mile ride to and from work, my hand and arms began to numb. A friend recommended I try cycling gloves, so I purchased these from Amazon. They do seem to lessen the numbness, but not prevent it entirely.

What's more, it doesn't feel like the pads hit my palm in such a way that it removes weight from the middle channel of the wrist, though the gloves seem to fit my hands without any slack. How do you identify the right fit for preventing ulnar numbness? And is it ever completely preventable, or do I just need to live with it to some extent? If I am still feeling numbness, should I send the gloves back?

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Decent cycling gloves are rare. The padding is hardly ever in the right place -- the things must be designed by Martians. And even when the padding's in the right place it doesn't work. I once had a pair of gloves with "Sorbothane" padding that were the cat's PJs, but they're no longer available. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 1 '12 at 0:17
    
Question. Are you certain that this is an ulnar nerve issue? Here's a link about cyclist's hands, which may or may not be helpful in describing your issue. Gloves may not be the answer. Other things, like your daily work or overall bike fit, could play a significant role in the problem that you describe. –  user313 Jun 4 '12 at 19:35
    
I won't edit or vote to close...but I do think that your question should be something like, "What are solutions to prevent arm/hand numbness while cycling?" It may not be a matter of gloves. –  user313 Jun 4 '12 at 19:55

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A little more information would be helpful. Are you riding a road bike or hybrid, or what? How tall are you? What is your inseam? What size is the bike?

Without this information, the best I can do is:

1) 6-7 miles isn't a long ride. If you're getting numbness in such a short distance, something is probably wrong.

2) It could be the fit of your bike. Hands get numb when they carry too much weight. If your bike is not the right size, or if it is set up incorrectly, this may cause you to put too much weight on your hands.

3) It could be your fitness. If your core (abdominal and/or back muscles) are weak, you could be compensating by putting too much weight on your hands.

4) It could be a combination of #2 and #3.

What can be done to fix this? It depends on the cause. See if your bike is the right size for your body. Online fit computers can help with this. In addition, consider strengthening your core. If you ride a hybrid, consider some new grips.

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+1 for this. also, to add to point #2 above, are you wearing a bag or anything on your back? I had issues with numbness as well when I was carrying a messenger back, so when I switched to frame-mounted rack with panniers it was much better. –  jaustin Jun 3 '12 at 12:45
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I am riding a performance hybrid with a 19" frame. My inseam is 30" and I am 6' tall. I am definitely out of shape, so that might be the issue. I am wearing a light water bladder backpack, so I suppose that could contribute, but I carry this pack all the time and have no issues walking with it... –  therealmitchconnors Jun 4 '12 at 14:40
    
Your inseam: is this your cycling inseam or the inseam on your pants? I'm assuming the latter, and I'm guessing that you have a long torso/long arms. If that is the case, then the bike may be too small. If you can provide the exact model, that would be helpful. Where did the 19" measurement come from? Is it off a sticker on the frame, or did you measure it? To make a long answer short, I think you would be well-advised to try the online fit computer in my original answer and compare the numbers with your bike. –  Zippy The Pinhead Jun 5 '12 at 2:38
    
The 30 was from pants and the 19 was from the sticker on the frame (it's a Trek 7.2 FX). I can't measure myself at the moment, but I will try it tonight and get back to you. Thanks for the pointer. –  therealmitchconnors Jun 5 '12 at 15:16
    
If your LBS sold you this size, they probably had a reason for it. I don't see 19" listed as an available size on the Trek Web site; you may want to ask your LBS about your hands going numb. They may be able to suggest a remedy, like a longer stem. If you could post a photo or two of you on the bike in a riding position, that might be helpful. Blur or mask your face if you prefer. –  Zippy The Pinhead Jun 8 '12 at 4:09

I use These cycling gloves. They seem to have much more padding than the ones you linked to. They are also available quite cheaply ($15-$20) if you can find a shop that carries them. I've done some pretty long rides in them, and I've only experienced numbness on the longer rides. I agree with the others though, you shouldn't have so much numbness after only a 10 km bike ride. You may be putting too much weight on your hands, possibly due to a bad fitting bike. If you ride a road bike, try changing your hand positions as your ride. Don't stay down in the drops all the time. Using a variety of hand positions can help to stop numbness from occurring.

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The Pearl Izumis are my current favorites. They're far from perfect, but they suck less than other gloves I've tried.

BTW -- it sounds like you may have a fit problem with the bike, not the gloves. No glove will compensate for a poorly fitting bike. Get a professional fit from a local bike shop.

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Agree with the fit. You should not be getting numb even without gloves. –  Ken Hiatt Jun 1 '12 at 3:52
    
The bike was fitted to me by my LBS... but they didn't really measure much, they just had me sit on a few bikes and told me this one was right... –  therealmitchconnors Jun 4 '12 at 14:41

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