T Nation

Hands Going Numb

I need some advice.

When I do squats, my hands go numb. I’m 40, 5-11, 180#, this workout was 160# for 8 reps. by the time I was done my hands are numb. The bar is not up on my neck, but right on my traps.
I go just past parallel.

What am I doing wrong?
Thanks,

I’m just throwing this out there, but think it could be your breathing?

My hands used to go pins and needles before panic attacks.

Thanks, but that’s not it.

I take a couple deep breaths before starting the set and I breath once going down and once going up. The last couple reps is more than that as squats are near the end of my workout and I am usually breathing hard by then anyway.

I wondered if it could be compression of the nerves somehow so I got a pad for the bar. It didn’t make any diference. It can’t be too much weight! :slight_smile:

Could having your arms too close to the body maybe pinch off some blood vessels going through the shoulder?

[quote]heron wrote:
Thanks, but that’s not it.

I take a couple deep breaths before starting the set and I breath once going down and once going up. The last couple reps is more than that as squats are near the end of my workout and I am usually breathing hard by then anyway.

I wondered if it could be compression of the nerves somehow so I got a pad for the bar. It didn’t make any diference. It can’t be too much weight! :slight_smile:

Could having your arms too close to the body maybe pinch off some blood vessels going through the shoulder?[/quote]

I would experiment a bit.
Do your hands get more numb as you progress through all the sets?
Are they more numb at a certain point of the exercise; bottom or top position?

Experiment with your hand position on the bar.
Thumb over/under?
Do you wear gloves or wrist wraps?

Do your hands get numb during any other exercise?
Overhead presses?

Also, try putting your hands in that position but without doing squats or having a bar on your neck and see if your hands start tingling or getting numb. It could be poor circulation in your arms.

Do some squats without a bar just standing there, but two ways: a set with your arms to your sides, and a set with your fists above your shoulders.
See if you feel something.

Whatever you find out, you should go see your physician about it.

You may want to talk to an ART person. My bet is going to be that it’s a shoulder flexibility issue.

All of those suggestions seem pretty complicated, I say try moving your hands further away from your shoulders. By varying the distance from your shoulders to your hands on the bars, perhaps you might allow more blood to flow in.

I am imagining a kinked water hose scenario.

Also, see if doing squats at the beginning of the workout has any effect on your hands - it will have an effect on the rest of your workout - you’ll certainly be able to do more weight, as you will be motivated since it is at the beginning.

It could be compression of the nerve through your traps. I have a herniated disc in my neck and my left arm and hand go numb a lot. I can get it to release by massaging my left trap. So I can see where that could be a possibility.

You may want to try experimenting with bar position and try to get the bar to sit a little lower on your traps. Just a slight change of position could help.

I had to throw this one out there. But are you gripping the bar too tightly? I know I have to be gentle, somewhat, with my grip else my hands do the same. Can even happen when I’m driving my car in traffic…

I have a small frame so squating is always a problem for me. I use one of those sting ray manta rays and its great, I no longer have balance issues or numbness.

thanks for the ideas, I’ll try them.

I never thought of the too tight idea. I do tend to grip tight. I even do that while riding my sportster. I’ll just be going down a straight hiway and notice how tight I am holding the grips for no reason.

Gee, Now I can’t wait for my next squat workout! :slight_smile:

When you place the bar across your traps and then grasp it with your hands, it requires external rotation of the shoulder as well as horizontal abduction (moving away from midline of the body) of the humerus on both sides. If you have tightness in the pecs,(which internally rotate and move humerus toward midline), subscap, or other internal rotators, these may contribute to your problem. As you reach back and grasp the bar you may also place a stretch on the scalenes secondarily because of your tight pecs. These are three muscle that run from the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae at various levels and attach onto the 1st rib for anterior and middle scalenes as well as the 2nd rib for the posterior scalene. There are numerous nerves that pass through the spaces between the scalens and run into the arm. If the scalenes get excessively tight and impinge on the nerves, you may get symptoms in your hands.
Try these two stretches: Stand facing an interior corner with your shoulders at 90 degrees and your elbows at 90 degrees (like a goal post). Your forearms should be against the walls, with your nose facing the corner. Place one foot ahead of the other and move your entire body into the corner. Don’t look down and don’t just lean forward. Try to move your hips into the corner horizontally. You should feel this across your pecs, not just in the front of your shoulders. Hold 15 sec and repeat 3 times. Next sit in a chair and hold on to the side of the seat with your right hand. Slowly lean a little to the left, now slowly turn your head a little to the right and tilt it back. You should feel a stretch on the right side of the front of your neck. Hold 15 sec and repeat 3 times. You can do this multiple times a day. Do not get too aggressive because you may make it worse. There is debate about how long to hold a stretch. 15sec x 3 will get you decent results and is easy to complete. I have tried to attach a simple drawing of the corner stretch, but I’m not too adept with the computer. If your symptoms don’t improve within a week or two you should get some myofascial release or MAT from a qualified practitioner. My vote would be MAT.
You could move your hand grip wider or use a manta ray but this will only rid you of the symptoms, not address the problem.
Hope this helps.

ps
Your hands more than likely go numb on your Sportster because you don’t have a rubber mounted engine. The grip issue may contribute, but my guess is vibration. I used to have a '96 1200XL and within 60 miles my hands, butt and feet would go numb. I got a Road King in '97 and no more problem.

I would check hand placement on the bar. If you are a small frame you might be gripping narrower than you need to. I am a large frame and used to place my hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. I started experiencing elbow problems. Another powerlifter hand me place my hands all the way to the collars. It does wonders. Also make sure your elbows are down. I see lots of folks cranking their elbows up my training partner included, and pointing them down helps. Also get the bar slightly lower on the shoulders gets it off the nerves.

Nerve compression in your traps. Stretch this muscle by pulling your head to the side with your hand.