T Nation

Arms are Numb


Hello, all -
When I go to sleep, I sometimes (a few times per week) wake up with one or both arms numb or tingly. If I lay on the floor or anything and put an arm over my head for a short while it'll get tingly and numb.

My masseuse is concerned it'll lead to loss of sensation then loss of strength in my hands over time (I'm in my late 20s) and that worries me a bit. She usually spends a lot of time working right where my pec meets the shoulder at my armpit.

Any of you deal with this kind of problem? How do you fix it or deal with it?


Been having numb tingly hands for awhile now. Had some work done on my back with my physio, she just said to be real diligent with stretching the back. Took awhile for my numbness to go away, soon as I stopped stretching the numbness came back.


Stretch pecs and front delts hard immediately postworkout, -usually means a slight blockage/impingement on the ulnar nerve.

Working on rear delts/rhomboids ec can also help


Uh Oh. I get this all the time. I thought it was normal. Is this not normal? Where is the ulnar nerve?


[quote]Silyak wrote:
Uh Oh. I get this all the time. I thought it was normal. Is this not normal? Where is the ulnar nerve?[/quote]

Its not that big a deal just annoying. Ulnar nerve is a big nerve that runs through shoulder and all down arm


I found that once I started doing more external rotation exercises to help with my shoulder impingement that it also helped with this. The tightness in the pecs and lats decreases the space in the shoulder joint. When you sleep with your arm up over your head like that it will put additional pressure on the ulnar nerve, which over the length of a good sleep will cause the tingling. Like has already been said, stretch out the pecs and lats and try to avoid sleeping with your arm overly extended.


Is this a common thing with people in the powerlifting style of training? I’m getting the impression that the tightness in the armpit and shoulder is going to be a big problem down the road, like loss of sensation in extremities and risk of cuff tears, etc.


This has happened to me since I was a little girl. Not sure if it’s normal. Any time I would put my arm up over my head while sleeping, I would eventually wake up with a dead arm and have to lug it back down with my other arm and let blood flow back in. Edit: Seems to be blood flow in my case because the arm feels slightly less warm when this happens…

Does your masseuse have any prior experience or work related knowledge in this to substantiate their concerns? I have never suffered any loss of sensation or strength from this, and doubt the body would remain asleep long enough to allow damage to occur. When I wake up with a dead arm, it is clearly the reason I awoke, I correct the arm and fall back asleep.

May have to do with the position of arteries that go through the armpit and bone structure or tendons/ligaments cutting off blood flow? That is my only guess to the cause. I just try not to sleep with my arms over my head. Edit: Or sleep with shackles. :wink:

If you are truly concerned you could always consult your doctor.

Edit: Apparently there can be multiple causes which are outlined in this page: http://m.md-health.com/Arms-Falling-Asleep-At-Night.html


She has a pretty strong background in physiology and most of her work is on athletes, everything from distance runners to bodybuilders. She actually is the best I’ve worked with and each time I visit gives me ‘homework’ -some new stretches to try and open up my shoulders, pecs, biceps.

What you said about bone structure etc I think may be the key. I’ve wondered for a while if maybe some people are just built different (obviously we are), that could mean some have issues and tears and strains and things while others are injury free.

Or I’m just lazy about stretching and train like a moron. Very possible too.


[quote]JCS19Y wrote:
Is this a common thing with people in the powerlifting style of training?[/quote]

Yep, if going heavy your need to stay on top of the stretching/flexibility and really push it from time to time or you can get very bunched up.

Also very low rep training year round not even necessary for optimal progress anyway…