Numbness in your hands while cycling is more common than you may think. Cyclist Palsy, as it is also known, is something that can limit your daily life and cycling life – but it can be prevented. Whether you are a hobbyist or a pro, this can affect your life without you noticin any warning signs. Below are ways to help you prevent Cyclist Palsy, without altering your cycling life dramatically.
The Right Bike Fit
This is the biggest issue with many who suffer from Cyclist Palsy. The right fitting bike can make a world of difference – and it takes just a few minutes at a local cycle shop to make sure you your bike is correctly fitted to you. This is the problem with many who rent bikes; they are not properly fitted to your body. The handlebars, the pedals, the seat: It all matters, and they should be fitted to your body.
Bar tape may have you feeling weird at first, but cushy bar tape can help your hands absorb shock better than naked handlebars (aka, the factory-standard cushioning).
Glove It Up
Gloves – properly fitting gloves, that is – can also help cushion your hands and wrists. Get fitted at your local cycle shop. Ill fitting gloves can cause pressure (too tight of a fit) or slippage and sweating (too loose of a fit).
See Your Doctor
At the first tinge of a tingle, see your doctor. They may recommend braces for your wrists or arms, TENS therapy, or tell you to lay off cycling for a bit. Yes, it can be hard, but it is worth it to keep your health and nerves intact.
So… What Do I Do If I Have Cyclist Palsy?
First, don’t panic! Treatment is possible. Most cases typically resolve themselves in three weeks with no residual issues afterward. In other cases, an Electromyograpy (EMG)/Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) test can be done in order to test the nerve and muscles of the hand to determine the extent of the injury. Cortisone shots are also available – but these are painful and are not a permanent fix for your issue. For at-home care, self-massage and ice/heat alternation therapy works well.
Some people claim that taking Vitamin B6 is beneficial – but the only actual studies that show any improvement for nerve pain involves carpal tunnel syndrome. Should you try this? Consult your doctor before taking any additional vitamin or supplement.
And lastly, do not force yourself through a long ride or any type of workout when this hits. It can make your condition worse – even if you are self-treating at home. Rest may be hard for an active person, but it is worth it to save your health and nerves.