Lifting heavy weight with your hands puts pressure on the nerves of the wrist, which can cause numbness and tingling. If you are bending your wrists while lifting, blood supply to your fingers is reduced, which can also cause numbness. Bodybuilders are at increased risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, and this could be a symptom. Protect yourself by using proper form and strengthening your wrists as well as the rest of your body.
Wrist Bending, Hand Squeezing
Pay close attention to your form when lifting weights if you are experiencing numb fingers after a workout. Gripping a bar wider or closer than about 2 to 5 inches more than shoulder width apart can cause your wrists to bend when you straighten your arms on the uplift. Keep your wrists as straight as you can. If you are lifting dumbbells, you could be bending at the wrists, which decreases blood flow to your fingers. It might be impossible to perform some weightlifting exercises without some amount of wrist bending, and some numbness will be normal. Stretching your hands and wrists before and after weightlifting can help. Avoid exercises that put extreme strain on the wrists -- for example, clean and jerk and upright rows.
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A German medical study by UM Mauer, et al., found carpal tunnel nerve damage in bodybuilders that increased with the length of time they had been training. Reduce your chances with stretching exercise recommended by Dr. Housang Seradge of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons before and after you lift weight. Hold your arms straight out in front of you with wrists bent so your fingers are pointing up toward the ceiling. Count to five, then straighten your wrists and relax your fingers. Make a fist with both hands and bend down at the wrist. Count to five, then straighten wrists and relax your fingers. Repeat the full exercise 10 times, then relax your arms at your sides and shake your hands for a few seconds.
Building Strong Wrists
Strengthen your wrists so they can support the exercise you do to build a stronger body. Use a weight that feels light and doesn't cause strain after 15 repetitions. Hold the weight in one hand with your elbow bent and palm facing up. Rest your elbow on a pad or support it with your other hand. Slowly bend your hand down as far as you can at wrist, then bend your hand back up continuing past the starting point as far as you can in toward your forearm. Return to the starting position for one set. Repeat three sets of 15 repetitions with both hands.
It’s Not Always Weightlifting
You might notice numbness after you lift weight, but weightlifting is not always to blame. Other possible causes of numbness are vitamin deficiency or too much of some minerals. Some medicines can cause numbness, and alcohol and tobacco can damage nerves. Medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid problems and others could also be responsible. A healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent numbness from most of these causes. See your doctor if you have persistent and increasing tingling or numbness after you lift weights.
- MedlinePlus: Numbness and Tingling
- Sportmedizin: Stress-Induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Athletes--Exemplified by 3 Kinds of Sports
- Zeitschrift für Orthopädie und ihre Grenzgebiete: Body Building--Effect on Neural Conduction Velocity of the Median Nerve in The Carpal Tunnel
- The Electronic Textbook of Hand Surgery: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises