Forearm Pump

posted May 28, 2012, 6:31 PM by LASP Team   [ updated May 28, 2012, 10:46 PM ]

Do you ride Motorcycles? Do you compete in Motocross? Do you suffer from Forearm Pump?  Do you want to know what you can do about it?

As you may be aware David Hogan is not only a Physiotherapist at Lifestyle and Sports Physiotherapy, but also a Motocross and Enduro Racer.

David races for his own team called the Highway Performance Bikes Off Road Team. He competes in the Australian Off Road Championship (AORC) and, in January 2012, placed 21st in class at the World Off Road Championship (WORCS) held in California USA.

“I’ve raced motorcycles since I was 5yrs old and I have had plenty of experience with Forearm pump and used many different techniques to solve it”.

For those of you who don’t ride, Forearm Pump is a phenomenon that motorcycle riders experience when they are holding on firmly or trying to ride as fast as possible. It can occur at any time but is most common at the beginning and end of moto’s.

It occurs because the amount of blood entering the muscles in the forearm cause the muscles to swell. This swelling then causes reduced venous blood return, nerve entrapment and a build-up of lactic acid. This results in having pain, the rider losing the ability to hold on to the handle bars due to weakness, operate the brake or clutch, loose feeling in their hands and in some cases an inability to release their grip.

So if it is a result of too much blood flows in. How do you reduce blood flow?

The simple answer is increased fitness. Increased fitness means your body utilizes the available oxygen much more efficiently and therefore reduces your heart rate. If your muscles are using the blood better then they don’t require so much to be sent into the forearms.

But why do the fit professional riders’s still get forearm pump?

Fitness is only one possible variable that can affect forearm pump. Another component is an adequate warm up and cool down between moto’s. Warming up and cooling down helps to increase your venous blood return which helps to remove by products created by muscle contractions. It therefore removes lactic acid and other by-products more quickly. The warm up and cool down is a neglected activity with riders, as it’s difficult to go for a warm up jog in your race boots and knee braces! However, it is one of the most effective methods of forearm pump prevention.

Does the bike play a part in forearm pump?

Your bike set up is a critical factor in whether or not your arms are going to turn into rocks half way round the first lap. Stiff or harsh set suspension, especially in the front end, will put extra vibration and impact through the handlebars causing you to tighten your grip hence quickening the onset of forearm pump.

What about handle bars, levers, grips etc?

The wrong sweep of bars, the wrong roll forward or back of the bars, levers too high or low, big round chunky grips can all influence your ability to hold on. In simple terms, we are talking about rider comfort.

In biomechanical terms we are talking about muscle positioning for optimal muscle activation and efficiency of muscle contraction. For example, if your levers are too low, it causes you to flex your wrist and reach with an extended index finger to grab your lever. This places your finger flexors in an over stretched position that is the weakest position for that muscle group to activate from. Therefore to squeeze the lever from this position, compared to a lever within reach at a neutral wrist position, requires a much higher effort and energy expenditure. Do this each time you brake for a corner and the effort difference adds up.

Extra work means extra energy. This all leads to increased blood flow and earlier fatigue resulting in Forearm Pump much sooner.

What can Lifestyle and Sports Physiotherapy do for my Forearm Pump?

One of our qualified Physiotherapists can assess your concerns. They will address your fitness, provide warm up and cool down methods, provide specific massage techniques prior to riding, and advise you about ergonomic bike set up to help you minimize, and in most cases eliminate, your forearm pump issues.

If you have any questions, please contact us on (02) 4647 3373 or via our Facebook Page.