Getting numbness when riding your bike?
Why do I get numbness when riding my bike?
Experiencing hand, foot, and saddle numbness while riding a bike is a common issue.
If you experiencing numbness while riding your bike, below are some reasons why this may be happening and how you can address these reasons:
Numbness from your seat – Saddle Anesthesia
Saddle anesthesia on a bike refers to a condition where a cyclist experiences numbness or a loss of sensation in the genital or perineal area (the area between the anus and genitals), particularly while riding a bicycle. This numbness can occur in both men and women and is often associated with pressure on the perineal nerves and blood vessels from the bike saddle.
Hand or finger numbness
“Cyclist’s palsy”, also known as handlebar palsy or ulnar neuropathy, is a condition that can affect cyclists, particularly those who spend long hours on their bikes. It is characterized by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand and fingers, primarily in the ring and little fingers. The condition is caused by compression or irritation of the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck down to the hand.
Foot anesthesia, or numbness, is often caused by pressure on nerves or blood vessels in the foot, leading to reduced blood flow and sensation.
How do I stop the numbness when riding my bike?
There are several steps you can take to prevent numbness while cycling. Here are some tips to help you avoid discomfort and maintain better blood flow during your rides:
Proper bike fit:
Ensure that your bike is set up correctly for your body dimensions. An improper bike fit can put unnecessary pressure on your hands, feet, and saddle, leading to numbness. A professional bike fit can make adjustments to your seat height, handlebar position, and saddle tilt to find a comfortable riding position.
Change hand positions:
Avoid keeping your hands in the same position on the handlebars for an extended period. Rotate your hand positions frequently between the hoods, tops, and drops of the handlebars to alleviate pressure on specific areas of your hands.
Use a relaxed grip on the handlebars, keeping your wrists as straight as possible. Avoid clenching the handlebars tightly, as this can compress the nerves in your hands and lead to numbness. Engage your core muscles to support your upper body and take some weight off your hands. A strong core helps stabilize your torso and reduces pressure on your hands.
Padding and gloves:
Invest in padded cycling gloves to provide extra cushioning and shock absorption for your hands. The padding helps reduce pressure points and vibrations from the road or trail. Some cyclists prefer minimalist gloves with minimal padding, while others prefer more heavily padded options. Try different gloves to find the ones that best suit your needs and provide the level of comfort and performance you desire.
Wear well-fitted cycling shoes that offer appropriate support and help distribute pressure evenly across your feet. Make sure your shoe cleats are positioned correctly to avoid excessive pressure on one area. If they are misaligned or placed too far forward, it can create pressure on the balls of your feet and contribute to numbness. Make sure your cycling shoes fit well and are not too tight or too loose. Ill-fitting shoes can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, leading to numbness.
Pay attention to your pedaling technique. Try to pedal with a smooth, circular motion rather than using a stomping or pushing motion, which can contribute to foot numbness.
Select a saddle that matches your sit bone width and provides adequate support for your riding style. Many bike shops offer saddle fitting services to help you find the right one for you. Riding on a poorly fitting or excessively narrow saddle can put excessive pressure on the perineal area, leading to compression of nerves and blood vessels. Some cyclists find relief from saddle numbness by using saddles with cutouts or relief channels in the middle to reduce pressure on the perineum.
Ensure your saddle is positioned correctly. It should be level or slightly tilted downward to avoid excess pressure on sensitive areas and putting more weight on your feet. Different individuals may have varying levels of sensitivity or anatomical differences that make them more susceptible to saddle-related numbness.
Take breaks and stretch:
During long rides, take short breaks to stand up, stretch your legs, shake out your hands and get your back moving. This helps improve blood flow and relieves pressure on your hands, feet, and saddle.
If you are new to cycling or returning after a long break, gradually increase your riding duration and intensity. Building up your cycling endurance and conditioning will reduce the likelihood of discomfort.
Remember that everyone’s body is different, and it may take some trial and error to find the right combination of adjustments that work best for you. If you continue to experience persistent numbness or discomfort, we recommend booking an appointment with one of our physiotherapists to address any underlying issues.
Why do I get numbness when riding my bike?
There can be a few reasons why your get numbness when riding your bike. The good news is that a Physiotherapist experienced in cycling can guide you on making adjustments to ease the numbness, and help you get more comfortable on your bike.
Are you having trouble with numbness when riding your bike?
Book in to see one of our Physios at Aspire to be fully assessed, so we can guide you on how to overcome the hurdles you’re facing. If you’re experiencing pain, we can commence treatment immediately to ease your pain. Find out what you specifically need to do to overcome your symptoms. You can book online here.