RIDING TIP: Exercises to Relieve Hand Numbness and Wrist Pain

April 18, 2020 Tags: , ,
Numb-hands_wrist_pain
I wanted to share a personal story with you regarding hand numbness and wrist pain.  After roughly forty years of riding and more than 350,000 miles under my belt, I developed a strange feeling in my throttle hand never previously experienced.  At first it was just a slight buzzing which escalated into a stinging needle feeling and finally morphed into full on numbness of the entire hand and a wrist stiffness with pain.  Irritatingly I was noticing it more and more on my pleasure rides.  I chocked it up to a recent reduction in miles and not having a “bike” body.  It became most urgent when I felt it while training during a track day.  The track is no place for a rider to lose feeling on their throttle/brake hand.  So I started investigating:

  • Gloves too tight?  Nope
  • Gloves fitting improperly?  No
  • Seams on the inside?  Smooth as a baby’s bottom…no seams to restrict flow or rub.
  • Holding the grips too tightly while riding?  Baby birds…holding them like baby birds
  • Improper grip due to incorrect ergonomics?  No over-grip or under-grip issues here.
  • Grips worn out?  Not offering enough buzz protection?  Nope…all grips on all of my bikes are in good shape.
  • Overused?  Maybe at the keyboard!  No way I was getting in too much riding (sadly).

I was left perplexed.  Time to get the help of an experienced medical professional.

wrist-exercises
After visiting a sports medicine physician, I was given an assortment of exercises I thought I would share with my readers.  I’ve been doing them for about three weeks and I am finding relief from the extreme pain and numbness I used to feel.  I hope you find them helpful too:

grip strength

  • Stretching
    • With one hand (or the help of a wall as in the picture above), bend the wrist upward and feel a stretch.  Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.  Then bend it the other way.  Do three sets on each hand
  • Grip Strengthening
    • I have a grip strengthening tool that I use, but grabbing a rubber ball works.
    • Squeeze and hold for five seconds.  Do three (3) sets of 10
  • Tendon Glide
    • Start with the fingers of your hand held out straight.  Gently bend the middle joints of your fingers towards your upper palm.  Hold for five seconds.  Do three (3) sets of 10.
  • Scapular Squeeze
    • While sitting or standing with your arms by your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds.  Do three (3) sets of 10.
  • Wrist Extension
    • Hold a soup can or hammer handle in your hand with your palm facing down.  Slowly bend your wrist upward.  Slowly lower the weight down into the starting position.  Gradually increase the weight of the object you are holding over time.  Do three (3) sets of 10
  • Range of Motion
    • Flexion:  Bend your wrist forward, hold for five seconds.
    • Extension: Bend your wrist backward and hold position for five seconds.
    • Side to Side: Gently move your wrist from side to side.
    • Do all of the above for three (3) sets of 10

If you are feeling any hand numbness or wrist pain from riding, I hope these above exercises give you some much needed relief.  Place a comment below if you give these exercises a shot!

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Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com

2 Comments

  1. Ken Bunch 7 days Reply

    Hello Bill,

    As I was riding a few years ago, behind a group of riders that I’d caught up with on some twisties near my home, I noticed the last rider dropping and shaking his arms and hands vigorously before the next turn. I immediately knew what he was feeling. I felt his pain! It was the same feeling, and limited resolution of the same pain, I had felt before the next turn forced a quick pull of the clutch to downshift. It was the same sensation that kept me from riding comfortably for months: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

    At 62 I denied that could possibly have CTS since I was never a grocery cashier constantly waving slabs shrunk wrapped meat and the latest snack foods
    over the bar-code scanner in a robot-like motion for eight hours a day. So, Dr Google was my (I thought) last resort and the exercises you detailed were my new mantra. But after months of a similar exercise routine with limited results, I decided to seek the advise of a medical professional.

    The first process was an upper extremity EMG (electromyography), and wouldn’t you know it? I had carpel tunnel syndrome – in BOTH hands! So, a few weeks later I had bilateral carpel tunnel release and following a fairly fast recovery I was out riding again – pain and numbness free! In fact, on the first ride, my wife was on the back and asked my how my hands felt. For a moment, I actually had to think about what she said. I had no pain or numbness at all!

    So, if you are experiencing numbness, tingling or pain in your hands while riding (or sleeping!) you may have carpel tunnel syndrome. Get it addressed fast! The longer you have numbness, tingling or pain in your hands or forearms, the sooner the nerves could be damaged permanently. Get it look at today.

    Happy riding!

    • Thank you so much for sharing Ken. You bring up some great points. I’m still trying to resolve the matter surgery free, but I’m quickly moving in the direction of a surgical intervention. Your story provides me with hope!