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Ahead of the Curve Rider's Blog, Gear & Cycling Tips for Riders

26 Tips to Reduce Hand Numbness For Motorcycle Riders

Posted by Rhonda Hurwitz

Jun 10, 2014 7:23:00 AM

black_l_glove_hand_on_throttle

Motorcycle riders sometimes experience hand numbness, forearm fatigue, and other hand/wrist/arm discomfort -- especially early in the riding season.

This occurence is surprisingly prevalent among riders.

Recently in the Motorcycle Enthusiasts group forum on Linkedin, there were over 100 comments regarding this problem -- which shows how very common it is.

Often, the best suggestions come from other riders.

Here are 26 tips from riders who have dealt with hand discomfort.

First: Why Hand Numbness?

You may be wondering about a medical explanation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hand numbness is "usually caused by damage, irritation or compression of one of the nerves or a branch of one of the nerves in your arm and wrist".

As it happens, the ulnar and median nerves run right through the palms which are also the same spots which support your weight on a bike.

And, according to Dr. Robert Shaw, a leading rheumatologist as well as a former rider:

"... While there are many causes to numbness and tingling of the hand or fingers the most common cause is carpal tunnel syndrome. Interestingly, one of the most common causes of this is the use of vibrating instruments and prolonged or repetitive bending of the wrist. It thus is not unusual to see this in motorcycle riders ..."

3 different medical  studies have documented this problem in motorcycle riders:  read more.

Like any condition that persists, it is always best to get it checked out by a trained medical professional. They may suggest something as simple as some physical therapy or a few exercises to help.

But unless you plan to give up riding, a plan of action is needed.

Motorcycle Rider Tips

Here's what other riders say. Hand pain may be due to:

Rider/bike ergonomics -- ie, small hands with long lever reach or wide diameter grips. Or, a handlebar position might be uncomfortable for one person, and not another.

Riding technique -- how tight the rider grips the bars, suggesting a lighter touch.

Need for bike modifications -- to change angle of wrist to bars, etc. and reduce vibe.

Here are 26 suggestions from fellow riders:

Note: We can't vouch for these tips -- every person, and bike, is different. See what works for you:

Rider Technique

  • Lighten up on the grip/ avoid overgripping the bars.
  • Put less weight on wrists. Hold weight up with core abdominal and leg muscles.
  • Bring a small rubber or tennis ball on long rides and squeeze it on breaks
  • Keep hands relaxed, upper body loose, only lightly touching and steering the bars. 
  • Grip gas tank with knees to keep weight off wrists. Ditto foot pegs.
  • Shake out hands out every half hour or so. 
  • Flip the cruise control on and rest one hand at a time in your lap.
  • Squeezing/pumping the hands to release muscle tension.
  • Remove rings before venturing out.
  • Increase exercise off the bike in order to Improve overall fitness and core strength.
  • Place hands backwards to stretch fingers the opposite way.
  • Move hands out beyond the end of the grips and rest pinky finger on the bar-end.

Bike Mods/Gear

  • Replace stock grips with softer/foam grips.
  • Add grip covers/grip puppies/ Kuryakyn grips and palm rests
  • Add throttle lock, throttle rocker or throttle pads. 
  • Wear well-padded gloves, like gel palm gloves.
  • Replace OEM bar end weights with heavier ones.
  • Adjust brake and clutch levers to straighten out the wrists.
  • Reposition your bars so your wrists are more straight
    • loosen the handlebar mounts/rotate the bars for a more comfortable angle on the wrist.
    • Reposition handlebars closer to the body, or choose a different bend.
  • Check tension on the steering head bearings to reduce vibration on the handlbar ends
  • Make sure seat is not set too high.
  • Fill handlebars with silicone or Bar Snake. This cylinder gauged with a high-tech polymer absorbs high frequency vibrations thus, reducing vibes.
  • Use Anti-vibration risers
  • Try cruise control attachments. The Crampbuster ™ helps maintain steady control of the throttle.
  • Try heated grips: they're like a heating pad for the hands.
  • Wear carpal tunnel arm braces

This video, "Why you get numb hands, riding a bicycle, motorcycle, etc." may give you some ideas, too.

Don't Give Up!

Try some of these suggestions, starting with the easiest/cheapest fixes first.

If that doesn't work, try some well planned out mods.  Also, don't forget to loosen' the "death grip".  And, pay a visit to your doctor. Don't give up!

If you do decide to give gel palm motorcycle gloves a try, there are many shock absorbing styles with silicone gel strategically placed in the palm, to absorb vibration. These may help.

Have you found any other methods to combat hand numbness? Please share them with your fellow riders in the comments. Ride Safe!

Shock Absorbing Gloves:

Shop here: we make 22 styles of gel palm gloves, many available with free shipping.

     

Topics: Gel Palm Gloves, Hand Numbness/Vibration

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