T Nation

Pins and Needles in Hands - CTS?


Hi all,

About 2 weeks ago I switched from high bar to low bar squats. This forced my elbows back and has be in a bearable yet uncomfortable hand position. i didnt think too much of this until a week later (3-4 days ago). I woke up with pins and needles in my left hands two smallest fingers and a bit of that side of my palm.

This has persisted and having read up on it id say its a mild form of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Does anyone have an experience in this area? It doesnt effect my grip now....will it if left to develop?

The advice says to get it looked at asap, and I am getting a GP to see me tomorrow morning.

However i know ill just get told to stop lifting which im loathe to do.
From what ive read 5% of the population have a mild for of this and it is most often related to sleeping on your hands or repetitive strain from typing etc.

So do I tell the doc i lift? if i dont he might actually treat me or offer behavioural advice that could help. but if he hears that i pin my hand to my shoulder with 120kg of weight 3 times a week then ill get told to stop before further measures are put into place!


any ideas? running out of time before the Gp tomorrow!


Why the living hell would you keep doing a movement that is clearly causing this much distress? OF COURSE his advice will be to stop doing that...and you should!

High bar and low bar squats? What does that mean anyway? What happened to just doing squats or front squats?


High bar sits high up on the traps, low bar sits down and farther back on the shoulder blades. Rippetoe and most of the elitefts guys are using low bar squats, since it engages the hips so you can move more weight. But the lower and farther back hand position is putting your wrist in jeopardy. I agree with X, stop doing that! Just do what works for you.



To be honest, regardless of where you're putting the bar or the little techniques you're using, it's still a fucking squat. I know you're just explaining for chutec, but I'm just saying.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a floor to mop.


You seem to have a never-ending floor to mop. Godspeed.


Ever since X basically appointed me as T-Nation janitor, well, who the hell am I to argue?

I figure it's only fair considering all the virtual dumps I've taken in this place.


...and we thank you. You deserve a raise. There, another 50 cents per hour is yours, big spender.

As far as this topic...damn people make shit complicated. I would have stopped doing "low bar squats" the moment I lost feeling in my arm. Then again, I lost the ability to bend my arm back that far once my biceps passed 18".


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Where are the pins and needles? The location of it is quite important. If it is CTS then the pins and needles would be located on the palmar surfaces of the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger. The innervation of the radial nerve is the same fingers but on the dorsal surface of the hand, and the ulnar nerve innervates the whole pinky finger and both sides of half of the ring finger.

Other causes of pins and needles could be a radiculopathy, this happens when a nerve becomes impinged somewhere along its tract or if the nerve root doesnt receive enough circulation. I have this problem because I injured my neck several years ago. The best option is to see a neurologist who can conduct a electromyography and neurography exam, that should give you the definitive diagnosis.


This is how I feel next time I go to the GP look at your doctor's clientele, if they are decrepit motherfuckers then don't tell him you lift. (you must not lift anyway if he can't tell).

Half of the squatting population does it one way or the other without wrist injury, don't blame the position of the bar for your wrist. Either your doing it wrong or your missing some flexibility somewhere in the upper half of your body, which case you should fix it anyway. It's not like you can't move your hands in or out further along the bar. (you never seen people hold the plates??).


Hi all, thanks for your advice.

I included the squat bar position info because I thought it might be important. It seemed like too much of a coincidence that this tingling occured a week after I changed method.

I dont really care how I squat and yeah ill take a wider grip to try and relieve the pressure.

still....it would seem to be the ulnar nerve as it is pinky and half the ring finger....and as its said is quite common irrespective of weightlifting.

Only real question is - can this spontaneously occur? Or is it triggered? Ive slept on my hands for years, which according to my health services website is the biggest 'cause'.

Bushidobadboy and the_gunner...can continued weight lifting (and I mean all lifts) exacerbate this sort of wrist neurological problem?

thanks again


I still lift the same. The main trigger for me is holding heavy grocery bags, weights aren't really an issue. If the problem is in the nerve root then Ive heard that specialized sleeping pillows help, but I guess you have to find out the cause first.


It's unlikely to be caused by anything OTHER than the new insult of the low-bar squats on top of the old irritation of years of compression during sleep.

Go take a look at a dermatome map, like for example at

and see if it's not intuitive that a nerve with root at C8-T1 that travels down through the elbow to the pinky might be irritated by both of those activities you described. Intuitively it seems to me that sleeping on the hand causes some nerve compression and maybe stretching (depending on your position), the bar in the low position might compress the nerve root, and the nerve might be stretched during the squat because of the arm positioning. Compress the nerve root and stretch the nerve, and it WILL protest.

Personally, I don't see the point of expensive, painful tests like EMG to assign a number to what you already know to be true.

I would personally do some thoracic extension on a foam roller, get ahold of a book called Permanent Pain Relief by Ming Chew, and do the spinal and fascial stretches for elbow pain and mid-upper back pain.


Low-bar squats certainly put a LOT more stress on the wrists and shoulders than high bar squats. You should, however, be able to increase your flexibility such that they can be done without pain.

This thread reminded me that I had a dream last night where some guy was doing a LOW bar squat with the bar in the middle of his back. That's some serious flexibility haha.


cheers guys. off to the GP now.

Ill certainly be either widening my grip or reverting to high bar squats.

I have a foam roller and used to roll so ill get back into that too.

thanks for the advice


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thanks BBB,

I am seeing the University's sports therapist on Monday.

Ill look into restarting my foam rolling, sort out my sleeping position and probably revert back to high bar squats until I sort out more general flexibility issues etc.

Well, Ill see what the therapist says first!


ah yeah he gave me the same ulnar nerve diagnosis and even used that same diagram! lol


Um, it is a no-brainer to STOP the low-bar squats, and frankly, you're an idiot if you keep doing them.

Since you had these symptoms so soon after doing them, I am virtually certain you are compressing and damaging the disc at that nerve root. You are getting some flexion around that disc (maybe others as well). And in this case, you WILL NOT recruit your hips optimally anyway. You will not get any appreciable benefit for your hips doing this, but if you really crunch that disc, you WILL lose a lot of ground in your training. You have a lot more to lose than to gain from this movement. Continuing to do a movement that could injure your spine is short-sighted and stupid.

Your body will often put up with a low-level irritation (like your sleeping position, or poor posture) for years without any strong protest, but then you add a new source of irritation and get some screaming. It may seem sudden, but I bet if you were to think really hard and be honest, there were low-level symptoms (mild aching, for example) that accompanied the low-level irritation, but that you ignored them. The brain uses gain control to reduce its response to chronic stimuli anyway (for example, you stop feeling a watch or ring you wear all the time). But when you added a new, big irritation (heavy bar and flexion compressing the nerve root), you got a bigger response. It's pretty simple, really.