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Finger cramps and strength training?

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I ride almost every weekend and always have the problem of my fingers cramping up and hurting really bad about halfway through the day, anything I can do to help it? Also what are some exercises I can do to help me hold on to my bike better, I'm a pretty fast motocross racer and after riding for a while I find it hard to stand up and hold my body forward while hard on the gas

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I used to get finger and hand cramps bad. I started wearing gloves and practicing keeping fingers on the clutch and brake. It seemed to relax my grip and things stopped cramping up. I'm still working on the endurance for staying up and not sitting down a lot

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I used to get finger and hand cramps bad. I started wearing gloves and practicing keeping fingers on the clutch and brake. It seemed to relax my grip and things stopped cramping up. I'm still working on the endurance for staying up and not sitting down a lot

I wear gloves and keep my fingers on the levers, I must be holding on too tight, il have to work on that I guess

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Im sure the biggest factor is as you said, you struggle to squeeze later in the ride. That will destroy your arms in no time. Lack of hydration, poor diet, etc can also contribute to cramping in a general sense. Obviously as people around here always say "riding is the best exercise for riding"....probably true...however, how many of us have a track at our disposal, the time, and the money to do that lol. I think squats/deadlifts are great for pretty much anything athletic. That is squats with a FREE barbell, not on a smith machine (fixed bar). The squats work basically your entire body and help your overall stamina by simply being more fit. Deadlifts I like too, but it seems if you squat deep (past parallel) you hit most of the same muscles anyways. 

 

Some other things I have done that I find mimic squeezing (or I feel the burn in similar places as I do when riding) is the thigh squeeze thing that most often I see girls using. Swallow your pride and give it a try lol. If you're unsure, u sit on it, put ur knees on the pads, and squeeze your knees together! I also like to stand on a flipped over bosu ball with my feet sort of near the edges. I put a medicine ball (smaller diameter one works better for me) between my legs just above the center of my knee caps where I can get it to stay. Then I hold a heavier medicine ball straight out in front of me and do squats where I hold just below parallel, come up a little bit stop, hold, all the way up to "attack position" posture, hold. Again, this is all while you're trying to keep the platform of the bosu ball level side/side front/back and squeezing the little ball between your knees.

 

Actually, this video may help visualize it...

 

http://www.getlinkyoutube.com/watch?v=8gZ12yVAnCI

 

When he jumps up on there and does squats, imagine a medicine ball between his knees and I hold one out front too. The one out front is more of an extra, feel the burn in the shoulders after a lil bit lol. I also do a similar thing with the pushups he is doing, etc i dont rotate back and forth, which I may try and I only keep one foot (toes) on the ground to make it a lil less stable.

 

Also, there is nothing wrong with sitting down. Some feel they should be standing all the time... I can't remember the video I watched (maybe it was semics even) who pointed out that you should sit as much as you possibly can to conserve energy. Obviously if its whooped out then you gotta stand, but if its flat enough to sit, why not sit?

Edited by J_YZ2fittyF

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As recommended above with using your legs as much as possible, I also recommend strengthening your shoulders. Can't remember where I read it and it might sound counter-intuitive, but try it.

The theory is that if your shoulders are weak or tired you cannot control the constant rowing back and forth motion of the bars, and are forced to death grip with your fingers which usually doesn't last long. I came from years of rock climbing and thought that holding onto cushy, rubber grips would be a cake walk compared to pulling up on thin, sharp rock. But my chest and shoulders were very weak in relation to my lats and forearms and it didn't take long of a ride to tire out my shoulders, leaving me rag-dolling the bars from only my fingers. Technique would get super-sloppy after that and elbow pain would soon follow. It's all about balance, IMO. Lower body is just as important as upper, because I believe being tired is being tired at a certain point.

I slowly tapered away from climbing and started doing push-ups, shoulder presses, and some kettle bell exercises along with seat time and it's much better. Stay hydrated too as mentioned before, your muscles will cramp much quicker when they need water.

Hope this helps.

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I have a short routine I use and it only requires one kettle bell. Super cheap and only uses about a bathroom size square. Look up these on YouTube and after several days on it you can try to adjust your levels to suit. Some of these were part of a mtn. bike training workout that I used to do, and then I sort of modified it for the higher intensity of dirt bikes.

1.- Warm up. Break a sweat at least first. I jump rope for about 3-5 minutes nonstop. That's enough to get my heart rate up, then I do a few minutes of stretching/mobility. Look up the "Bretzel" and kettle bell halo. These are good, there's a bunch more.

For shoulders - try the kettle bell clean and press, and kettle bell swings.

For legs - try the one-legged KB dead lift, one-legged squats, and lunges. I really like the one legged

exercises because they seem to simulate how you would ride, for ex. weighting the outside peg on turns, and when standing, pushing the bike into a turn via the foot pegs. Not only that but it requires a lot more balance than two legged, which will help riding. After a year of doing these, I went from only being able to stand-up for about 50% of my rides, to standing up the whole ride and feeling like sitting was more tiring.

There's also the "Turkish Get Up" exercise....it's really weird at first and hard to figure out, but really effective for the whole body once you learn them.

I'm able to do all of this and a few more in a little more than an hour, so three times a week and it's not too much time invested but really good results. Even crashing seems to hurt less, lol.

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