Rowing: Numb Fingers and Hands - Page 2 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-16-2014   #11
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 257
Earlier on I had issues with numbness while rowing and found a few things that helped me:
  • Avoid tightly gripping the oar
  • Change the contact point of oar and palm preiodically
  • Strengthen the wrist / forearm - I carry one of those spring loaded hand grip strengtheners in the rig and use it frequently while driving
Good luck.

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Old 11-16-2014   #12
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
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I had this problem when I was guiding paddle trips 6-7 days per week this summer. My wife is trained as a massage therapist and she focused on the knot that develops by my scapula on the affected side. It helped tremendously! I even felt sensation "rush" back into my numb hand during a session.

You might try chiroperatic and massage. If you smoke or eat poorly consider changing those habits to improve circulation too...
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Old 11-16-2014   #13
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Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1980
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I believe Randaddy may have nailed it. Circulation seems more probable to me than carpel tunnel issues. I don't see how rowing could cause those kind of problems. Lifestyle issues are very often at the root of these ailments. None of this may be the case with you Phillip but I bet if you did some work with weights and some yoga that numbness would go away. P90x is a great at home work out. Most of the strength training uses body weight and Dumbbells or bands and there is very good yoga and stretching involved. The yoga is very challenging.
It just seems to me that rowing is the opposite of what would cause tendinitis or carpel tunnel. Rowing seems to make most of my issues go away.

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Old 11-16-2014   #14
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
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Numbness in your thumb and first two fingers is carpal- the braces give some relief and are worth a try. Stretch by pushing your fingers back toward the top of your wrist.

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Old 11-16-2014   #15
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
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Originally Posted by Randaddy View Post
My wife is trained as a massage therapist and she focused on the knot that develops by my scapula on the affected side...
Duh, yes, I should have mentioned this. After returning from rowing my first trip ever - way more rowing than I've ever done, 103 miles on slow water in 8 days, as opposed to maybe 10 miles a couple of days in the Grand - I noticed a knotted muscle area in my upper back on one side, and started noticing some tingling and a little numbness in my hand. I got a massage and the condition is way improved. I think massage is your answer ! And more conditioning before future trips.
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Old 11-16-2014   #16
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I've had tendonitis in my wrist which caused similar symptoms. My hand also wanted to stay clenched and was hard to open. NSAIDS and rest, plus time and it goes away....

I also had a problem with thoracic outlet syndrome during a prior lifetime when I was a violist. Basically raising my arm reduced bloodflow to my hand. Numbness, tingling, weakness, and a very cold and unresponsive hand. Also had reduced nerve conduction. Stretching exercises and changing posture helped considerably, but it took months for me to get a functional hand back. Sounds like you may be suffering something similar and if so, lowering your oars and stretching the shoulder/upper back will help. You want your hands below your shoulders at all times if this is your issue.

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Old 11-17-2014   #17
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ebbing, flowing..., CO, NM
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I have struggled with numb hands during River season for 15 years... It is always at it's worst when I am doing a lot of rowing. Just this fall I was offered the most amazing epiphany by two different people, first a personal trainer then a few weeks later a massage therapist... They both said the same thing: It is my neck muscles. I tend to brace with my neck more than my core, and especially while rowing. What happens is that the neck muscles tense and shorten, contracting the shoulder muscles and pinching the major nerve that runs down the arm (not that I know any of the technical terminology, this is the most basic layman's description I understood.) They both suggested that I use a tennis ball or massage roller on my neck and shoulders, vertically down the neck, and laterally across where the neck and shoulders meet. Be gentle & do it a couple of times a day, but don't over do it. Having been doing this throughout the fall, I have for the first time in 15 years actually been experiencing relief from my numb hands! It really has been effing incredible! I hope this helps you in your search for non numb hands...
Journeys of a River Mamma Blog "Ever onward, ever forward, ever down the River!"- Ed Abbey
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Old 11-17-2014   #18
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
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Originally Posted by RiverMamma View Post
They both suggested that I use a tennis ball or massage roller on my neck and shoulders...
Yes, a tennis ball is great for self-massage. Or, depending upon the area and the pressure desired, as well as the hardness of the floor (carpet, hardwood, whatever) a lacrosse ball might work better (approx same size as tennis ball but much harder).

Another neat trick is to tie two tennis balls inside an old sock, and then you can roll it down both sides of your spine. It's great !
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Old 11-17-2014   #19
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Fort Fun, Colorado
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I've had something similar - my opposite hand/arm would go numb while I slept on my side (if I was on my left side my right hand would go numb and vice versa). In addition to the neck/scapula message work I found that stretching my pectoral muscles helped a lot.
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Old 11-17-2014   #20
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Bellevue, Idaho
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Weird this thread pops up right now. I split two chords of wood on Saturday and Sunday morning I couldn't close my hands or barely twist open my coffee cup fingers were and are still going numb at different times. If I move around it seems to help them get sensation back temporarily. I do think I need to get it checked out. It's better today but still intermittently going numb. I will take some of these ideas and work with it. I used to have some sleeping issues with numbness in arms but it had gone away entirely after losing thirty pounds. Last night was hell.

It definitely seems to emanate from my shoulders and being a long time snowboarder who sucked when I started I have a couple of doozies now. Never hurt them kayaking and getting trashed in some way over my head holes so thankful for that.

So I really have nothing important to add but thanks for the tips. Got some work to do.
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