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Hands go numb and shoulders ache

dubcatdubcat Posts: 731
edited October 2010 in MTB beginners
Hi - I noticed my hands went rather numb during the 32 mile XC ride I did last weekend. Tonight I went for a road ride on my mountain bike (don't ask!). The ride was only 11 miles or so and I was riding for about 1hr 15m. During this ride my hands went a little numb too but in addition to this my shoulders really ached (just above shoulder blades).

I was wearing padded gloves. I also had my camelbac on with about 1l water in it as well as my multitool, spare tube, etc.

I am sure this is being caused by incorrect bike setup. Is that right? The only adjustments I have made are to adjust my seat so that when I have pushed a pedal down my leg is stretched just short of locking. I also moved my seat back a tiny bit so that my butt hurt less.

Can anyone offer advice on this? I have another long ride coming up in a couple of weeks.
2010 Specialized Rockhopper
2012 Bianchi Infinito


  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Above and between the shoulder blades for aching indicates bars that are too low relative to the saddle.

    Depending on the severity of the pain add a spacer or fit a higher rise stem.

    If you work on your hip flexibility and core strength you should find that disappearing though.
  • dubcatdubcat Posts: 731
    You mention core strength and hip flexibility - if I just keep riding will the pain in my shoulders eventually stop happening? Is it the same for the numb hands - is this just because I am new to riding?

    I have only done 130 or so miles since getting my bike (+ a few hours of trail riding too).
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Ride more, it goes away.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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  • dubcatdubcat Posts: 731
    So on other words, MTFU? :)

    Ok that's cool. I just wanted to ensure I was not going to do myself some kind of RSI type injury due to bad posture.

    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • hypermanhyperman Posts: 232
    It's not just a case of takes time to get your bike set up to what suits you best. You mention that you moved your seat back to take the weight off your butt, but this only puts more pressure on your arms, hands and shoulders....try putting your seat further forward....your butt will mtfu quicker than your shoulders..
  • dubcatdubcat Posts: 731
    Funny you mention that. I was thinking that exact same thing. I will have a play.

    Just for the record, i don't want my butt to f m :)
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • crb03crb03 Posts: 1
    ride_whenever gave good advice.

    You need to adjust your bike setup to take weight off your hands. There are a couple of ways this can be done.

    Moving your saddle back, counter intuitively, DOES actually help, as it moves your centre of gravity back. A good way to get your head round this: while standing on the floor (i.e. not on your bike), bend forward. You will notice you have to stick your backside out in order to stay in balance - if you don't you'll fall forwards. Moving your saddle back has the same effect.

    Raising your bars will also help, as will bringing them back towards the saddle. If you can't adjust the number of spacers under your bars (common with a new factory built bike), the best way to do this is with a new stem. You want a shorter stem with a steeper rise.

    This article is worth a read
  • Boy LardBoy Lard Posts: 445
    I had some very similar problems. When I first got my bike I got pins and needles in my hands and pain between my shoulders. Played about with bar height and saddle position and got rid of the pins and needles in my hands. No matter what I tried I couldn't get rid of the pain between my shoulder blades though. That was until I borrowed my mates hydration pack (Dakine Nomad) because it was a bit bigger than my Camelbak Mule. Hey presto, no pain.
  • dubcatdubcat Posts: 731
    Crb thanks I will read the link

    Lard is that cos you drank more water or cos the bags design was different.
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • nferrarnferrar Posts: 2,511
    Hard to say for sure but I'd agree with some of the other posts it could be your bars are too low or you're too stretched. Are your bars lower than your saddle, if not I'd aim for them to be level as a starting position and see if that makes a difference. Could also be you're too stretched so a short stem might help (unless you moved the saddle way far back in which case move it forward again :p ). You could also play around with your bars (assuming they're riser bars), as rotating them a bit might give them more rise or more back-sweep, both of which might help.
  • Boy LardBoy Lard Posts: 445
    I think it was just the way the weight was distributed across my back, so pack design.
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    Mostly numb hands are caused by gripping the bars too tightly, this in turn tenses the upper body, which after some time makes your shoulders ache.

    This wastes energy, restricts the lungs, so you wear out quicker and are out of breath.

    Keep the upper body loose and fluid and see if the problem goes, if it doesn't then start tinkering with the set-up.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
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