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Newbie - Proper hand position on hoods?(12 posts)

Newbie - Proper hand position on hoods?ECF
Aug 19, 2003 5:53 AM
Hi all,

I'm new to road bikes. I used to ride MTB a lot ~ 5 years ago and just started with road riding. I need to get in shape again, and I'll be riding my local MS150. Got a new Specialized Allez Elite last week and went for a 38 mile ride with my local shop on Sunday. Since then I've had numbness in the pinky and 4th finger on my right hand. Its slowly getting better, but I know its not normal.

From searching on the site I see that its probably due to compresson of the ulnar nerver in the palm of my hand. So my question is this.

What is the proper hand position for me when I'm on the hoods? Should the padded part on the outside of my palm be resting on the bars behind the hoods or should it be outside the bars with my palms resting on the indentation in them middle on my palm. If that visual doesn't make sense please let me know :-)

I made the mistake of riding with new gloves as well and I think I'm going to ride with my old comfortable gloves to see if that makes a difference. I know that I should change hand positions often, and I think I did a decent job at that.


The real culprit?orange_julius
Aug 19, 2003 6:06 AM
I suspect that your weight distribution could be an issue --
when I started riding road bikes, I would put too much weight
on my arms/hands that my fingers would get numb. Changing the
angle on my seat to convince my body to put less weight
forward helped.

I agree that it's not normal, but as you said you're in an
adjustment period. It is definitely worth the effort to
try to get used to the new position; your hands shouldn't
support much weight, it should be there just to steer the
handlebar. Changing positions help, and since you're
riding with the shop, why not ask them to critique your
position / stance?
There is no proper wayMel Erickson
Aug 19, 2003 6:10 AM
It's all about comfort and control. Find the positions that work best for you and avoid those that cause tingling or numbness. Good idea to go with the old, comfortable gloves. You might try some light gel padding, although too much can make things worse. Shifting your position frequently is the right thing to do. It's really a trial and error process to find what works for you. I probably use about five different positions on or near the hoods.
There is no "Proper" hand position...biknben
Aug 19, 2003 6:11 AM
Just go with what is most comfortable. There are many ways you can position your hands. Unfortunately they are all hard to describe. If you can support your weight and maintain control you are fine. Move those hands around and experiment until you find something comfortable.

A couple positions I use:
-On hoods, thumbs inside with most of the weight on the area between thumb and first finger.
-On hoods, fingers pointing up and forward with weight on the heel of hand. Thumb tucked under the shifter cable just in case I hit a bump.
-Forearms resting on bars near the top bend. Outside of hand resting on hoods with fingers pointing outward. This isn't the most comfortable position but it gets you lower and more aero.

I'm sure others can come up with more.

BTW: Use the drops too. Too many people ignore the drops entirely. Use it for another hand position for a couple minutes, if nothing else.
re: Newbie - Proper hand position on hoods?tarwheel
Aug 19, 2003 6:52 AM
How much is the drop from your seat to handlebar? (Measure each from the floor to check.) I tried a bunch of different "solutions," but nothing solved persistent numbness in my hands until I raised my handlebars to about 1" below the saddle. Most new bikes these days are sold/ set up with drops ranging from 2-4", which is more than many of us can handle comfortably. To raise your bars, a new stem will probably be necessary. If it's a new bike, talk to the shop where you bought it, and they should let you try some different stems to see if that helps. A shorter stem also might help if your arms are too stretched out with elbows locked.

Other things that can help relieve hand numbness include good gloves (I prefer Pearl Gel Lites), thicker bar tape. Also make sure your saddle is level or tilted slightly up in the front. If your saddle is tilted down in the front, it shifts your weight distribution toward your hands.
agree, weight distribution.sievers11
Aug 19, 2003 7:00 AM
The drop of handle bar and such will effect this, but for the most part you shouldn't need to wear gloves at all if you don't want to. I stoped wearing them last year and I have had better luck without and alot has to do with my riding possition.

I have started racing and have a gone from a 4 cm drop in my bar to a 6 cm drob. (saddle to handle bar drop) with no increased presure on my is the secret.

bend your elbows and relax your shoulders. tight shoulders and locked elbows force all of you upper body weight to you palms.

You an put your hands anyway you want on the bar, and move your hands a lot. Every minute or so if you need to.
weight distribution.Fredrico
Aug 19, 2003 11:38 AM
"Bend your elbows and relax your shoulders. tight shoulders and locked elbows force all of your upper body weight to you palms."

That's been my experience. Resting straight armed on the hoods will cause nerve stress as the hands absorb all the road vibrations. Bending the elbows lets the arms acts as a shock absorber.

That's solved the problem for me, anyway.
Try this first . . .Look381i
Aug 19, 2003 8:11 AM
Before spending any money or making any position or bike changes, try riding with very loose (or undone) glove straps. I think that tight glove straps cause more cases of numb hands and fingers than any other single factor.

If that's not the problem, then experiment with new gloves, tape and position.
pictorialized and explainification......divve
Aug 19, 2003 9:23 AM
I had the same problem until recently. For me it was simply a matter of incompatibility between my hands and the hoods. I'm 6'0.5", which is pretty average here, my hands are regular sized for my length, but the Shimano hoods are simply too small and incorrectly shaped for me. The only way I could get somewhat comfortable with them was to place them higher up on the handle bars so I could rest the heel of my hand on the handlebar (red line) and middle part up to the webbing between my thumb and index finger in the hoods (blue line).

Now I've switched to Campagnolo and I couldn't be happier. The whole hood area now supports my palms with equal pressure from the heel of my hands all the way to the front between my thumb and index finger.

It might not apply in your case, but I thought I'd throw in my perspective since no one has yet mentioned this possible cause.
The most convincing argument yet to switch to Campy!! (nm)MisJG
Aug 19, 2003 9:47 AM
rotating bars also can helptarwheel
Aug 19, 2003 11:49 AM
I had the same problem with Shimano shifters as shown in the photos above, and preferred Campy for that reason. However, I moved the Ultegra shifters farther up the curve of the bar, and then rotated the bar on the stem so the tops are more level. The Ultegra shifters still aren't as flat as my Campy Chorus, but close enough. This is a real difference between Campy and Shimano can make a difference in comfort for many people.
re: Newbie - Proper hand position on hoods?ECF
Aug 19, 2003 12:45 PM
Thanks all. Wow, great quick advice. Great site here. I'm going to try to ride more relaxed and go back to my old gloves to see if that makes a difference. I don't want to make radical changes if its just a matter of me using better technique. :-) BTW, I'm a big guy so putting too much weight on my hands is a realistic problem.

If I'm still having problems I'm sure you'll find me back here again.

Thanks again,