Arm pump, or “forearm compartment syndrome,” is a nightmare for moto riders. The pain is brutal, and losing grip on your bars can lead to disaster. But what can you do?
General strength and conditioning are critical, and forearm-specific exercises are crucial. But, even the fittest rider’s arms can be crippled by pump, so here are some other tips to help lead you closer to your own personal motocross arm pump “cure.” These tips apply to all types of moto riding, not just MX -- enduro, trail, desert and rally riders... Keep reading!
Let's be clear, there is no silver bullet for arm pump, but conditioning, bike time, nutrition and warm ups can help it become manageable, less frequent and maybe even disappear over time.
Using Nutrition as a Motocross Arm Pump Cure
Creatine is excellent for pumping up party muscles, flexing at the beach, and looking swole in that new Fox tank. However, creatine gets left in the dust when it comes to on-bike performance.
Creatine is prevalent in many weight-lifting-focused pre-workout supplements. By increasing the water content within muscle cells, creatine can enhance muscular expansion. While that might be great for your spring break vacation to Cancun, it could exacerbate your arm pump.
Arm pump is caused by muscle tissue expanding within their fascia, restricting blood and oxygen flow to and from the forearms. Using creatine, you start your race or ride with swollen muscles before even gripping the throttle. Give your arms a chance out there; creatine isn’t a Motocross arm pump cure; it’s likely a cause. Besides, your jersey has long sleeves anyway.
Stay Hydrated & Prime With Electrolytes
One of the most effective motocross arm pump cures is efficient hydration. Your blood gets thicker as you dehydrate, decreasing the flow of electrolytes and oxygen. Electrolytes are a critical factor in preventing cramping and muscle spasms during activity. By starting your ride fully hydrated with a product like PREPARE+, you are giving yourself a massive head start on arm pump and the competition.
Continuing to hydrate during a ride can be difficult but crucial when looking for a motocross arm pump cure. The average athlete loses between 1-3 liters of sweat per hour. Throw a helmet and some body armor on that athlete; that number could be even higher.
Hydrating with a product like SUSTAIN on the trail or track can keep your blood flowing fluidly and replenish vital fuel & electrolytes. Beers are for after the ride, be aware though, despite the urban legends a frosty cold one does not hydrate better than water and alcohol does have performance consequences.
Beta-Alanine as a Motocross Arm Pump Cure
Lactic acid build-up in your muscles can be a huge factor in arm pump. How can you fix this? Put on your glasses and pull out a lab coat because we can hit this one with the power of science!
Carnosine is a compound that is found naturally in your body. One of the things that carnosine does is reduce that burning acidity in your muscles. Beta-alanine, an amino acid that occurs naturally in your body, helps your body produce carnosine. Because of this, we included Beta-alanine in PREPARE+. Thanks, science!
Warming Up as a Motocross Arm Pump Cure
Stretch Your Forearms!
Stretching isn’t just for soccer moms and Orange County housewives. Elite athletes in every sport do rigorous, daily stretching routines. You don’t need to spend hours on the Yoga mat, but consider dedicating 5 minutes daily to forearm stretches and before a ride. The results may surprise you.
Use a Stretching Tool
Really want to get serious about finding a motocross arm pump cure? Take your stretching to the next level, recover faster and prevent injury with a forearm stretching tool. This tool is used before a ride to help expand the fascia compartment that the forearm muscles exist in.
Active Warm Up
Remember all the warm-ups you used to do back in middle-school track? The lunges, body weight squats, high-knees, and butt-kicks? Well, it’s time to bring those back, my friend. Actively warming up can significantly contribute to your motocross arm pump cure.
The goal of these dynamic warm-ups is to activate your legs and core while directing blood flow towards your legs:
- Do some bodyweight squats, walking lunges, revers and side lunges with your hands above your head.
- Work through some kick-butts and high-knees. Get that blood flowing out of your forearms and into your legs.
- Alternate between active warm-ups and forearm stretches for at least 5-10 minutes before your ride.
- Don’t wear yourself out, but get to the point where your legs are just starting to burn.
Relax baby! Ease up on those hands! 90% of your grip on the bike should come from your legs. Always keep weight on the pegs, even when seated—good technique results in using less effort. Focus on letting your hands guide the bars rather than choking them to death. Solid fundamentals and sound techniques will benefit you in your quest for a motocross arm pump cure.
Arm pump is one of the most common complaints from avid dirt bike riders and racers alike. Don’t let the arm pump dominate your ride. Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay informed with our latest blogs, including an upcoming article about arm pump-focused workouts for dirt bikers.
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