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toni's picture
Joined: Aug 12 2004
Posts: 826
Hands go numb when I sleep

Does anyone else have this problem? I've figured out that it's from being in the "biking" stance for a long time and them muscles in the shoulder girdle growing from use. I stretch my arms, pecs, and shoulders after the rides to avoid this but it doesn't seem to help. I took Ibu last night as well and it still hurt. I'm a side sleeper so any side I sleep on causes the coinciding hand to swell and go numb which wakes me up.

Is this a typical thing that everyone has to deal with? Am I not stretching as much as I need to? Or does my bike not fit me properly even though I got it professionally fit to me?

FYI I was training for four months for IMC and had to take two months off and then started back up for an IM cram session for IMC. This could be the problem in itself.

Any input would be helpful. Thanks!

Toothless's picture
Joined: Sep 11 2007
Posts: 150
I am a side sleeper and used

I am a side sleeper and used to have this problem. Eventually I just had my hands amputated and all is now well ;-)

But SERIOUSLY I still occasionally get numb hands but don't have nearly the same problem as before. This is a nerve issue. For me the numbness was in my pinky and ring fingers, called cubital tunnel syndrome (similar to carpal tunnel, but different nerve - olnar nerve). Side sleeping can cause shoulder impingement, which basically pinches the nerves where they leave the torso through the armpit and go down to the hands. I went to a specialist who wanted to operate and move the nerve to the outside of my elbow, which Freaked Me Out, so here's what I did instead:

At first I had some deep tissue massage work (or rolfing) and the therapist understood what to work on based on my complaints. This was a great 4-6 week fix each time, but the problem would come back. I also changed my computer workstation so I wasn't slouching while on the computer at work, which causes the same problem. Finally, I got a new bike fit with this problem in mind. I now ride with a more upright position, I use Specialized bar tape with gel pads, and I also use the Bontrager bar-end plugs that dampen road vibrations. Vibrations from cycling or even mowing the lawn are bad for the nerves when you have this problem. These changes were all on my road bike. On my tri bike I'm pretty upright compared to all of the hard-core folks, but otherwise I have a normal set-up. If you have the dough, carbon handlebars/extensions help as well.

Good luck! Just don't let the surgeons get a hold of you!

Captain Mal's picture
Joined: Sep 5 2007
Posts: 197
It's better than going

It's better than going blind!

Sorry, as usual, I have nothing helpful to add.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
My hands go numb if I end up

My hands go numb if I end up using an arm as a pillow. Perhaps you are doing something funky with your arms to get comfy on your side?

ChunkyB's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Posts: 1146
kylie wrote:My hands go numb

[quote=kylie]My hands go numb if I end up using an arm as a pillow. Perhaps you are doing something funky with your arms to get comfy on your side?[/quote]

+1. I sleep with my arm under my pillow a lot (like my bicep region) and sometimes when I wake up I can't even turn my alarm off because my hands are like numb jelly or something. It's pretty annoying.

tri-ac's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2005
Posts: 3717
i'm a side sleeper, i've

i'm a side sleeper, i've occasionally had my shoulder go numb if my arm gets positioned crossways under my body, but I roll periodically when I sleep so that takes care of itself.

when i've done rides that have forced me to keep my hands in one position on a bumpy road, i've had lingering numbness after the ride, but not overnight.

i hate to go there, but it's not associated with the pregnancy thing, is it?

Socket's picture
Joined: May 25 2007
Posts: 815
I'm a side sleeper and my

I'm a side sleeper and my whole arm will go numb from time to time. I don't think its a huge issue.

thesonicson's picture
Joined: May 11 2008
Posts: 147
I have a similiar problem

I have a similiar problem except only when I ride, my hands fall asleep while riding in the aero position. I'm assuming my blood flow is being restricted from the arm rests. I probably look like an idiot riding down the road smacking my hands on my thighs!

azmojo804's picture
Joined: May 2 2008
Posts: 195
I wonder if this could be

I wonder if this could be caused by some shoulder muscular problems?
I have heard that if you swim "wrong" that you can impact your shoulders. The "wrong" swim I read about was when your thumb is the first part of your hand to enter the water, instead of your finger-tips...Kind of inwardly chopping at the water. This can lead to shoulder problems, apparently.
Also, an exercise I make sure to do at the gym works the rotator cuff muscle. I lay on one of my sides with a 10 lb weight in the hand that's not on the floor. I make an L with my arm, and bend the weight (keeping my elbow on my side) from parallel to the floor up to perpendicular. This strengthens my rotator cuff. In addition, I noticed it helped a bit with my posture. I used to do a lot more Bench workouts at the gym, and my shoulders were starting to roll forward. I added the rotator cuff exercise to the list and my tingling hands and rolling shoulders were solved...
Could be that riding so much works the pecs that your shoulder is naturally rolling forward a bit more, thus assisting in pinching some nerves in there???
Just my .02...it worked for me, and I LOVE sleeping on my side! :)

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