Why Do Athletes’ Hands Fall Asleep?

Athletes, cervical chiropractor

Have you ever experienced sleeping hands or lost sensation on your arms, hands, and fingers? Many pro athletes like marathon runners, rowers, archers, rock climbers and swimmers report the same problem. Notably, most of these individuals seek the help of a therapist, neurologist, or cervical chiropractor

That’s because their numbing sensation often comes hand in hand with tingling in the arms, muscle weakness, and burning feeling on the fingers. So, what exactly do these symptoms indicate? How can patients cope better?


Sleeping Hands: A Sign of Nerve Pinching in the Hand

Many patients who seek a cervical chiropractor or neurologist for sleeping hands have pinched nerves in their arms. Some also develop carpal tunnel syndrome – a nerve problem that affects about three to six percent of the US population. Notably, both health complaints stem from the following: 

  • Repetitive motion 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

 In athletes, median nerve compression often stems from a cervical subluxation, a neck injury, spine compression due to repetitive training, and sudden muscle twisting. Sometimes, it can develop because of premature wear and tear of spinal joints.


Conditioning Exercises to Ease Median Nerve Compression Pain 

If you’re an athlete who frequently needs to undergo training, you would need to be extra careful to avoid adding pressure on your median nerve. For example, you should mind how you grip or carry items. On top of these things, you might also find it helpful to try the following conditioning exercises: 

Wrist flexion

Wrist flexion is among the most straightforward hand exercises for people with median nerve compression. It involves bending the hands until the fingers point downwards. Depending on your preference, you can do this with or without hand support. 

Tennis ball squeeze

Tennis balls make an excellent tool to use when working out for median nerve compression relief. It can ease the pressure off your median nerve and help you improve your symptoms.  


It can help strengthen the hands and relieve pain and discomfort from a compressed or irritated nerve. That’s why we strongly recommend doing yoga exercises for at least a few minutes a day.

Athletes, cervical chiropractor






Preventing Nerve Compression in Pro Athletes

Besides the conditioning exercises above, you can also take advantage of natural remedies and lifestyle adjustments. Here are a few things you should consider adding to your routine:

Work on your weight 

The previous section pointed out that obesity can sometimes increase the risk of developing nerve pinching. That’s why doctors strongly recommend maintaining a healthy weight. While most professional athletes already follow strict health and fitness regimens, it would still help to follow diet tips such as:

  • Avoid drastically cutting off calorie intake 
  • Make sure you consume enough protein
  • Eat enough food to fuel your body 
  • Schedule cardio and strengthening exercises
  • Say yes to fiber and reduce carb consumption 

Avoid overworking your body

Physical overexertion can put immense stress on the body, especially an already-irritated or compressed nerve root. That’s why, it’s good practice to schedule regular breaks in between training sessions.

We suggest carving out time for a relaxing massage, a trip to a physical therapist, or perhaps a quick consultation with a cervical chiropractor

You can also spend time doing things you like going on a picnic with your family or just relaxing on your sofa and watching a film. If these activities aren’t enough for you, we suggest trying the following relaxation options: 

  • Progressive muscular relaxation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Biofeedback training

Relieve pain with cold or hot compress

Cold and hot compresses work wonders in relieving pinched nerves. They’re also inexpensive and simple to use. So, the next time you experience median nerve compression symptoms, we suggest using a hot or cold compress. In addition, we recommend using a cold pack to reduce inflammation and a hot compress to improve circulation of blood and nutrients in the affected hand. 

Wear a splint on the affected hand

Some doctors and physical therapists highly recommend wearing a splint on the wrist to minimize nerve pain and irritation. So, it would help to consider using prefabricated or customized splints. We suggest consulting with your physician or therapist to determine which type of splint you should use. 

Manage underlying health concerns

Some cases of nerve compression get worse because of underlying health problems like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. So, if you have these problems, it’s a good idea to talk with your primary physician. This will help you narrow down the possible triggers of your nerve compression. In addition, a thorough diagnosis will allow you to determine what specific medications or procedures you should try. 

Consult with a cervical chiropractor

Besides the different remedies and lifestyle adjustments we shared above, you should consider trying upper cervical care. Sometimes, nerve pinching can stem from even the slightest changes in the neck alignment. If you have this underlying health concern, then your C1 and C2 bones might be the reason why you have an irritated median nerve.    

We suggest consulting with a cervical chiropractor to confirm whether you have C1 and C2 bone alignment discrepancies. This way, you can also determine if you need chiropractic neck adjustments. The sooner you get a clear diagnosis, the faster you can start healing your compressed or irritated median nerve. Schedule your appointment with an upper cervical doctor today and learn whether you need C1 and C2 bone adjustments.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.