Arm pump?

Sorry to ask stupid questions but I'm new to the moto world. I've seen people refering to arm pump but what exactly is it? Thanks for the help! :)

Arm pump is when you try to do your best impression of Popeye without the spinich.

Its when your forarms pump up so they are rock hard to the touch and you really cant grip you bars anymore.

yeah, what he is caused by gripping your bars too hard for too long. Your forearms essentially get a painful hard-on, if you will excuse my terms. People might grip too hard because of adrenaline causing them to tense up or because their suspension or other bike parameters are not set right so they have to spend too much effort wrestling with the bike. Prevention is by trying to stay loose. Proper set-ups are important including suspension, bar height, and steering damper if necessary.

a few notes for everyone on "arm pump". partly it is cramping from a build up of lactic acid in the group of muscles in the forearm controlling fingers, thumbs and supporting the wrist, so lots of long, thin muscles in a small space, usually used for fine control not usually extended heavy use. so we are asking those muscles to do something not really designed for it(think touring on a trials bike!).

What can we do about it? a few things, first is what do you eat and drink before during and after riding? water intake is vital at all times to help process excess lactic acid, also eating food with protein, carbohydrates, but not much fat before you ride will help reduce muscle burn(when the body runs out of "food energy" and starts looking for fat stores for energy). after a ride vitamin C will speed up the breakdown of lactic acid, so orange juice and the like will be far better then most drinks, powerade, gatorade etc are useful for getting electrolytes back up, but are IMHO of limited value. Cross-training will do wonders for your endurance on the bike. i got most of my experience with this problem rock-climbing where your finger strength is put to a much harder test than on the bike and for more extended time periods, climbing also improves flexibility across the body and improves abdominal and back muscles strength and flexibility.

The biggest one however is improving your aerobic fitness and from that you will improve your bodies ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles and lessen the amount of lactic acid in the muscles that gives you the "pump"



p.s. i have no training in this area, this is just what i've read, been told and tried myself. more detailed information on this can be found by searching "rockclimbing" and "training"

Good post, Lachy,

I have also found that after a berserk 2.9-mile ride to start an enduro, I stop with quite a bit of arm pump. It helps if I do the following:

1. Relax for a minute while the clock catches up.

2. Stretch by putting my fingertips on the grips, bending my fingers and wrists back as far as they will go.

3 Stretching the other way, bending my hand forward as if to touch the underside of my forearm.

4. Shaking my hands.

This does amazing things for the rest of my race. No arm pump. Probably because I have forced myself to relax. If I were racing hare scrambles, etc, I would use the bomb run for a warm-up to get a little arm pump going before the stretch and before the start. For MX, practice might work to get a little blood flowing. Then just stretch 'em out.



Arm pump is created by an infusion of blood into the muscles. Around the muscles is a "bag" so to speak. This bag is called the facia and is not very elastic. When you ride and grip to hard, the muscle fills with blood and the facia becomes stretched to it's limit and you get that tight feeling.

This is why you've seen some of the pros get "arm pump surgery". The surgeon actually cuts slices into the facia to allow for more expansion of the forearms muscular tissue, without the tightness.

All the advice you've gotten so far is good ie proper nutrition, hydration, excercise and stretching. You can also try this when driving to the track. Make a hard fist and open your hand to the max, spread your fingers as far apart as possible. Do it over and over 20-50 times, each arm. You should start to feel that pumped feeling. Now relax and with your other hand, bend you hand (palm side) down towards the inside of your forearm, by gripping the back of your hand and then take your finger tips and bend them backwards, as far as you can. This will stretch out the pumped feeling you've just created. Do this a few time on the way and you'll be ready to roost :D

It helps me but, I still get pump riding to hard (over my head) or on new tracks or trails (when skeered :))

Bill :D

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