What causes numb hands while cycling?

numbness while cycling

Numbness in your fingers while riding a bicycle can occur if your riding style or seat position results in too much pressure being placed on your hands.

According to Imperial College London, handlebar palsy, also referred to as cyclist’s palsy, can be caused by prolonged compression of the ulnar or median nerve. This compression syndrome can affect all cyclists, but is more often seen in long-distance cyclists and mountain bikers, as vibration and pressure is exerted on their hands for extended periods of time from continuous gripping of the handlebars.

Those suffering from cyclist’s palsy normally show symptoms such as numbness, weakness, clumsiness, cramping and other sensory or motor impairments in the hand. However, the symptoms may differ from person to person. In order to further their knowledge of the condition, Imperial College is appealing for regular cyclists to help in their research.

If you would like to help, please visit imperial.eu.qualtrics.com

handlebar position hand numbness

Reducing numb hands while cycling

The ulnar and median nerves run through your palms, and if pressed they can become compressed and cause a painful numbness in your hands and fingers. To reduce the likelihood for suffering from numb hands while cycling, try the following:

  • Frequently change the position of your hands on the handlebars (at least once every 10- minutes)
  • Try not to squeeze your handlebar grips
  • Every so often during a ride, give each hand a good shake
  • Handlebar tape, soft grips or good gloves can help prevent numbness
  • Check that the seat and handlebars are set at the correct height

Ethical cycle insurance

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement. Many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. No wonder The Good Shopping Guide has voted us Britain’s most ethical insurance company three years in a row.


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