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Why Do Your Hands Go Numb When Riding a Motorcycle?

Why Do Your Hands Go Numb When Riding a Motorcycle?

Hand numbness often happens to beginners and regular motorcycle riders. The hands go numb while riding due to poor blood circulation. Poor blood flow can be due to several reasons, including cold weather, riding posture, and ergonomics. Read this article to learn why your hands go numb when riding a motorcycle.

1. What is Hand Numbness?

What is Hand Numbness

Hand numbness is due to compression and damage to the nerves in your wrist or arm. It can happen due to constantly and repeatedly bending your wrist when twisting the throttle and excess vibrations.


2. What Causes Hand Numbness?

2.1 Excessive Engine Vibrations

Motorcycle engines produce vibrations. Modern motorcycles are fitted with rubber-mounted engines and counterbalancers to reduce vibrations. However, older and used motorcycles can generate excessive vibrations that can be felt through the handlebars.

2.2 Going on Long-Distance Rides

Going on Long-Distance Rides

Hand numbness, throttle hand pain, and forearm fatigue can become worse on longer rides. Riders should take regular breaks to rest their hands and arms on long-distance rides.

2.3 Sitting in a Fixed Riding Position

Sitting in a fixed riding position for long hours without taking breaks can put pressure on your arms, forearms, and wrists. Hand numbness and throttle hand pain can worsen if the motorcycle’s ergonomics cause you to sit in an uncomfortable riding position.

2.4 Aggressive Riding Style

Most sports bikes require riders to lean forward in an aggressive riding position. The rider’s weight is shifted forward, putting more pressure on the arms, hands, and wrists.

2.5 Riding in Cold Weather

When riding in cold weather, the freezing temperature can slow blood circulation in the arms. Severe hand numbness can be dangerous since it is difficult to control and maneuver your motorbike if you cannot feel your arms.


2.6 Motorcycle Ergonomics and Arm Positions

A motorcycle with uncomfortable ergonomics can cause numb hands when riding a motorcycle. If you have to stretch your arms far to reach the handlebars and cannot bend your elbows, rides will be more uncomfortable and hand numbness and arm fatigue will be more likely even on a short ride.

2.7 Riding Technique

Holding the handlebar grips too tight can reduce blood flow to your hands. Make sure to grip the handlebars lightly to avoid arm fatigue and hand numbness.

2.8 Wide-Diameter Handlebar Grips

Riders with small hands can find holding wide-diameter handlebar grips uncomfortable. Twisting the throttle for a long time can result in muscle discomfort and wrist pain.

2.9 Tight Clutch and Brake Levers

If the clutch and brake levers are too tight to pull, it can cause stiffness in the arm muscles and hand numbness. The throttle and clutch cables must be loose enough to engage the clutch and twist the throttle.

2.10 The Clutch and Brake Levers Must Be Within Comfortable Reach

The Clutch and Brake Levers Must Be Within Comfortable Reach

The clutch and brake levers must be within reach distance from the rider’s seat to avoid uncomfortable arm positions and hand numbness.

2.11 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in Motorcyclists

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in Motorcyclists

Recent studies examining motorcyclists found that many riders suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is a condition that causes pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in the arms, wrist, and forearms. The carpal tunnel is a narrow pathway located near the wrist that compresses when you twist the wrist.

3. How to Keep Your Hand from Going Numb While Riding a Motorcycle?

3.1 Motorcycle Gloves

To reduce the vibrations traveling up your arms through the handlebars, wear motorcycle gloves with extra padding. Handlebar vibrations can cause you to lose or tighten your grip due to the extra pressure put on your nerves. Make sure not to wear gloves that fit too tight.

3.2 Crampbuster


Photo Credit: Adventure Rider

The crampbuster is a simple throttle attachment that allows you to cruise at a set speed. Constructed from flexible plastic, the crampbuster ensures your motorcycle travels at a consistent speed and eliminates the need to clench your wrist. You only need to press the paddle lightly to accelerate.

3.3 Motorcycle Grips

If you are experiencing hand numbness, replacing your handlebar grips can help. Use handlebar grips that are soft yet have a rough surface that sticks well to your gloves when gripping the handlebars gently.

3.4 Gel Motorcycle Gloves

Motorcycle Gloves

Shock-proof gel motorcycle gloves can help reduce hand numbness, tight wrists, finger tingling, and forearm pain. These gloves protect the median nerve from external pressure and ensure better blood circulation. Gel motorcycle gloves are specifically designed for riders with carpal tunnel syndrome. They are tough, stylish, and dampen handlebar vibrations.

3.5 Heated Grips

If you love to go on motorcycle tours in cold weather, installing heated grips can help keeps your hand warm and maintain blood circulation.


4. Hand Exercises for Motorcycle Riders

4.1 Grip Strengthening

Grip Strengthening

Photo Credit: Take Off With Meg

There are various grip-strengthening tools available on the market. You can also squeeze a rubber ball in your hand. Squeeze the rubber ball for at least 10 seconds. Repeat at least 10 times before switching to your other hand.

4.2 Stretching


Photo Credit: Fitness Republic

Stretch your arms in any direction until you feel the tension in your arm muscles. Interlace your fingers together while rotating your wrists so that the back of the hands faces you. Hold this position with your arms raised and completely stretched. Stay in this pose for at least 15 seconds. Try to move your arms backward while keeping them straight.

4.3 Wrist Extension

Wrist Extension

Photo Credit: Siamese Thai Massage

Wrist extensions help treat carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist-related pains. When doing wrist extensions, move your hand back and forth. Move your hands backward while facing your palm towards the posterior side and keeping your forearms stationary. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Now bend your wrist in the opposite direction towards the interior side and hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat at least 15-20 times.

4.4 Tendon Glide Exercises

Tendon Glide Exercises

Photo Credit: Semantic Scholar

Tendon Glide Exercises2

Photo Credit: Orthonc

Tendon glide exercises are stretches that strengthen the hand and wrist muscles and help treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Start with a straight hand and slowly close the fingers until they clench into a fist. Repeat these exercises as much as you want. Now bend the thumb joints one by one towards your palm and then stretch them as much as you can. Repeat at least 20 times.


5. Final Words

Riding a motorcycle requires you to stay fit and active to better ensure your safety. You need strong arms muscles and joints to prevent hand numbness and throttle hand pain. Weaker arms muscles and wrists can cause carpal tunnel syndrome condition. If you are suffering pain in your hands and wrists, make sure to wear gel motorcycle gloves and use special handlebar grips and a cramp buster. You should also do some hand exercises to relieve wrist pain and hand numbness.

You can protect your motorcycle and improve rider safety by installing a few aftermarket parts, including crash bars, fairings, and sissy bars. For a comfortable touring experience, you can find comfortable seats and handlebars available at Viking Bags. A backrest can also help you to recline comfortably against the sissy bar for a laidback riding experience. The storage capacity of your motorcycle can also be improved by installing additional motorcycle luggage options, including saddlebags, handlebar bags, sissy bar bags, touring packs, and tank bags.

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