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Fit Tips Brought to You by Next Level Riding Clinics

Published in the October 2010 Issue Published online: Oct 16, 2010 Sledheads Irina Adams
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The Dreaded Arm Pump .
You know that feeling all too well when your forearms feel like they're bursting at the seams, your fingers are no longer functioning properly and your grip is fatigued. So what is it and how do you prevent it?
Arm pump happens when, under extreme pressure, the blood circulating away from your arm cannot leave as quickly as the much-needed, oxygen-rich blood is coming into it. So pressure builds up in the forearm, compressing the muscles and nerves, which in turn lose their ability to function properly. Although there is no way to completely eliminate it, here are some ways to reduce the effects of arm pump:
 Ride Regularly - The more you ride, the more conditioned your arms become.
 Improve Your Riding Technique - Remember to utilize body positioning on your sled. This will relieve your arms considerably when done right.
 Relax - Remember to breathe and loosen up the death grip most riders have on their bars.
 Change Your Sled Setup - Having the handlebars, brake and throttle levers set in the wrong position can cause your forearms and hands to be at awkward angles, restricting blood flow.
 Stretch - Stretch your forearms, fingers and palms before, between and after riding. This helps to keep the blood flowing freely through your arms.
 Warm Up And Massage Your Forearms - Again, do this before, between and after riding. Massaging encourages blood flow as will a hot towel or hot tub.
 Avoid Tight Sleeves And Gloves- Wearing tight gloves or sleeves will slow blood circulation through your hands and has been thought to be the No. 1 cause of arm pump in snowmobilers.
 Keep Hydrated - Drink plenty of water before, during and after riding. H2O has more benefits than one.
 Improve Your Fitness/Cardiovascular System - You may be strong, but if your heart can't pump enough oxygen through your blood to feed your muscles, you will struggle to avoid arm pump. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods to get the heart pumping.
 Strength Training - There are 15 muscles in your forearm and 40 in your hand and wrist that are responsible for holding on to the grips, applying throttle and working the brake. This does not include all of the tendons and ligaments that make up the very complex system that primarily controls our machines. Strengthening your forearms, wrists and hands should be a major component in your training program.

Exercises to consider:

Pulling exercises such as pull-ups, rows from various angles and arm curls work the targeted muscles most effectively. These exercises should be performed in a compound manner, working multiple joints during each rep. Exercise examples would be a squat and row using a cable or rubber band system or an underhand dead lift into a bicep curl using dumb bells or a bar bell. Pull-ups are considered a compound movement and are a great way to strengthen the upper body. Grip, wrist and forearm strength exercises should be incorporated into a pre-winter season work out. Here are a couple of examples:

Plate Pinches

Take two of the same size weight plates, turn them so that they are facing each other and pinch them together. Standing in an upright position, hold the plates for 15 seconds before alternating hands. As your grip improves, increase the length of time and weight. I like to use 10-pound plates and if you can pick a pair of 25s up off the ground, you're doing pretty well.

Farmer's Walk

Grab a reasonably heavy dumbbell or kettle bell and walk for 100 feet. Switch hands and repeat. Try wrapping a towel around the dumbbell and grabbing the ends of the towel to increase grip demand.

Towel Chin-Ups

Take a towel or old t-shirt and throw it over a chin-up bar. Grab the ends and do some chin-ups.

Elevated Push -Ups /Plank Rows

Take a pair of dumbbells or kettle bells and get into a push-up position with your hands on them. Now, do push-ups. Or, bring your hands in a bit, spread your legs and alternate rowing each arm up for a plank row. Either way, keep your wrists straight and resist the temptation to let them bend.
Stay tuned for more sled fit tips brought to you by Next Level Riding Clinics, www.nextlevelclinics.com.
See you in the mountains.
Of course, before attempting any training program or arduous training consult your physician.