Arm Pump 101
Posted on September 17, 2011 by John.
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Arm pump is a phenomenon that plagues just about every rider that throws a leg over a dirtbike. We all know the feeling. The forearms and hands feel as though they are going to burst, and your grip gets weaker and weaker. What can you do to prevent this?
To answer this question, we must first break down what causes arm pump. Without going into too much detail, arm pump is when the blood flowing out of your arms get restricted by the muscles. The muscles casing cannot stretch, so when they get swollen they restrict the flow of blood out of the arm. This causes a buildup of lactic acid, which makes your muscles burn. Also, oxygen rich blood cannot get into your muscles due to the old blood not being able to flow out as fast as it normally would. This leads to your arms become quite worthless.
With that being said, here are some proven tips that help to prevent arm pump.
#1 Warm Up Before you Ride
This is one of the easiest ways to avoid arm pump. Have you ever been to the track, and your first moto you get arm pump like crazy, then you are fine the rest of the day? This is because your cardio vascular system is not warmed up properly. Take some time to get your heart rate up before you ride. Run in place, do some pushups, jumping jacks, jog around the lot, or any other type of physical activity. Ever notice how you don't see anyone doing this at the track? All the more reason to get warmed up and crush the first moto while everyone else is slowing down due to arm fatigue.
#2 Increase Cardio Endurance
It's no secret that being in shape leads to better performance at the track. If it didn't, you would see all kinds of out of shape fatties winning races. By increasing your cardiovascular health you increase your bodies ability to replenish muscles with oxygen. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how this will help with arm fatigue. This is probably one of the best ways to put arm pump in check, but so many riders avoid it because it is hard work.
#3 Ride More
This is obvious. Nothing better to get you in shape for riding than to ride. The more seat time you get, the better you become. You'll be riding smoother and not using a death grip on the handlebars.
#4 Stay Hydrated
It's important to drink lots of water and gatorade after you've been sweating a lot. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue.
#5 Use Your Legs
Experienced riders know when they can grip the bike with their legs to keep the stress off their hands and arms. When you use your legs, you are giving your arm muscles a break. The less your arm muscles work, the less oxygen they need and the less lactic acid they produce. This decreases the chances of getting arm pump.
I could rattle off a few more reasons why you may get arm pump, but the bottom line is you need to be in shape. Doing forearms exercises won't help your arm pump. It will make your grip stronger. Stick to the tips above and keep it simple. Also, don't get overly stressed or excited before a race. Talk is cheap and hard work pays off. So get off the computer and get to work.