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Coach Robb
Coach Robb is a human performance expert that helps amatuer and pro-level riders perform their best, focusing on diet, fitness, and mental conditioning.


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Arm Pump: Fact or Fiction? (video)

Posted by Coach Robb , January 19, 2015 · 5,093 views

Arm Pump: Fact or Fiction? (video) If you struggle with the dreaded arm pump symptoms while riding or racing, please watch this video to understand what is going on. You may be surprised about what is the source of this dreaded pain!

Next week I will show you how you can easily reduce these symptoms, so be sure to click the "follow this blog" button in the upper-right. :ride:

If you have any questions, feel free to submit them in comments section below. I'll do my best to respond to your questions and concerns.

Yours in sport and health,

-Coach Robb







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If you would like to follow my blog, please click the "Follow this Blog" button in the upper right.




Good video, I feel "arm pump" come on in two situations, one is exactly what you mentioned, hard acceleration when I'm out of positions and two, sustained deflection at the fork/front end (i.e. long aggressive rocky sections or sustained non-uniform whoops). 

 

Good vid, thanks. 

I tried watching the video but there's no sound on my end :( 

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Bryan Bosch
Jan 19, 2015 10:18 AM

I tried watching the video but there's no sound on my end :(

 

I just checked and have sound.

Kawi008 - were you able to get the sound to work on your side?  I appreciate you trying to watch the video...

-Coach Robb

It's mono with just the left speaker.

Good video.  Interested in getting some relief for my forearms.  I seem to have that fascia problem you mentioned as I have a chronic case of tendonitis and wrist pain.  My doctor is puzzled and says it isn't carpal tunnel.

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Bryan Bosch
Jan 20, 2015 11:38 AM

Coach, you see all sorts of armpump solutions in a bottle, such as Hemoflo. Do you see any of them as having value in dealing with armpump? Or, can you get what you need by eating right, good fitness and technique? Do these products just separate you from your money? Or, is it not that cut/dried?

Good video.  Interested in getting some relief for my forearms.  I seem to have that fascia problem you mentioned as I have a chronic case of tendonitis and wrist pain.  My doctor is puzzled and says it isn't carpal tunnel.

CelticDude-thank you for watching the video and posting your question.  I will put together a couple of videos to help you address your forearms: strength training and soft tissue/trigger point work. I will have something for you within the next week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything in the mean time.  

-Coach Robb

Coach, you see all sorts of armpump solutions in a bottle, such as Hemoflo. Do you see any of them as having value in dealing with armpump? Or, can you get what you need by eating right, good fitness and technique? Do these products just separate you from your money? Or, is it not that cut/dried?

Bryan-I don't want to offend anyone who supports our sport and has a sincere interest in helping riders; however, I have not seen any clinical evidence nor have I spoken with anyone that has had success with these types of products.  This is strictly my experience.

 

Arm pump is a compound issue.  

1. Weak leg and lower back muscles - rider can't squeeze the bike.

2. Rider can't hold onto the bike with legs and lower back - rider falls behind the pegs.

3. Rider falls behind the pegs, the forearms are the only left to hand onto the bars.

4. Forearm muscles are small and not very strong, the fatigue, load up and then you have dreaded arm pump.

 

If you take this subject to another muscle group, say squats, you can complete squats until your quads become so fatigued, they shake and eventually go into spasm.  It is more difficult because the quads are so strong and there are four of them (hence the name quadriceps) but you can see the application.

 

Over the next two weeks I will provide both strength and soft tissue therapy that anyone can apply at home or in the gym to help alleviate arm pump.  

 

Please continue to post questions here if you have any more questions or need anything clarified.  

-Coach Robb

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twistedcomic
Jan 21, 2015 01:48 PM

Hey Robb, thank you for posting these kinds of comments.  I have been telling this to the people that I ride with for almost thirty years, and none of them seem to listen, they just complain and do nothing.  Maybe YOU can help these people, I am done trying to help.

Thanks Robb, looking forward to your strength and tissue therapy guidance. So take your rider down a few notches to the recreational trail rider (like me) and same problem exists. I am sure I have all kinds of body positioning issues, but another one is simply the death grip. This is just from not riding relaxed, and as you mention likely not looking ahead enough and over steering and not maintaining a good smooth line, so I find myself hanging on too tight and get arm pump after riding sections that require lots of focus and concentration.

I am looking at attacking this from several angles, including the aforementioned strength and therapy, and standing/gripping techniques. I have not done these equipment changes but am considering doing some or all  - Steering damper, in order to ride "looser" and not feel like I need to have such tight control of the bars and getting knocked off-line by loosing up too much and getting a quick deflection I am not ready for.

Carbon fiber bars - transmitting less vibration and harshness, again in an effort to be able to ride with a lighter touch/grip

Steg pegz - same thought, be able to rely less on arm strength to help keep my body position forward when standing with out working my arms as much.

 - Cheers, good stuff please keep it up. KTT

Thanks Coach Robb....Great video. I experienced this very thing last weekend in a cross country race. First lap I had arm pump coming on bad. Not only was my body out of position but I was holding onto the bars for dear life. The only explanation I have was nerves. In other words, I was too busy concentrating on what was going on around me that I wasn't concentrating on myself and my own race. As soon as the 2nd lap came around (roughly 25 minute lap times), I was settled in and comfortable. I was able to focus more on my body positioning and the course as well as regulate my breathing.

 

That said, here is my problem and my question to you. What should be done in instances when I am gripping the bike with my legs too much? Although the arm pump went away and my upper body felt great, I did end up getting a major cramp in my left hamstring and calf muscle. So bad as a matter of fact that it transpired into a pretty gnarly crash that had me sidelined for what seemed like forever trying to walk the cramp off before continuing the race. Is this as simple as not stretching out enough prior to the race? Maybe not enough water the night before? It seams to be an ongoing issue I have that I would really like to kick.

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nickbaldwin86
Feb 02, 2015 11:00 AM

I get arm pump.

 

1) to tight

2) not riding loose.

 

When I am on my "game" and in the flow I never get arm pump I am moving freely on the bike and just feel good. the problem is I never know how to get into that groove... it is really the best feeling in all the world. I wish I knew how to turn it on at the start of every ride

I'm not agreeing with you 100%, I think you get arm pump when you are not feeling comfortable on the bike/track your riding on and you hold on tighter. 

 

I get arm pump on the track but never or it's very minor when trail riding.

 

it's not a strength issue or a hydration issue cause most people I know including me get arm pump in the beginning or first half of the day and once you cycle it out a few times your good to go and riding like a champ in the later half. Who is more hydrated later in the day and you surely didn't get stronger all of a sudden. Anyway that's my opinion/experience.

Thanks Robb, looking forward to your strength and tissue therapy guidance. So take your rider down a few notches to the recreational trail rider (like me) and same problem exists. I am sure I have all kinds of body positioning issues, but another one is simply the death grip. This is just from not riding relaxed, and as you mention likely not looking ahead enough and over steering and not maintaining a good smooth line, so I find myself hanging on too tight and get arm pump after riding sections that require lots of focus and concentration.

I am looking at attacking this from several angles, including the aforementioned strength and therapy, and standing/gripping techniques. I have not done these equipment changes but am considering doing some or all  - Steering damper, in order to ride "looser" and not feel like I need to have such tight control of the bars and getting knocked off-line by loosing up too much and getting a quick deflection I am not ready for.

Carbon fiber bars - transmitting less vibration and harshness, again in an effort to be able to ride with a lighter touch/grip

Steg pegz - same thought, be able to rely less on arm strength to help keep my body position forward when standing with out working my arms as much.

 - Cheers, good stuff please keep it up. KTT

 

Thank you for your thoughts and feedback!  I have had success handling the "death grip" by having my clients over gripping a little to get the pressure off of both the hands and the forearms.  Though it feels a little sketchy, letting your grip loosen up and grip a little higher keeps you from dropping your elbow too much and overloading your forearms.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything clarified.

-Coach Robb

Thanks Coach Robb....Great video. I experienced this very thing last weekend in a cross country race. First lap I had arm pump coming on bad. Not only was my body out of position but I was holding onto the bars for dear life. The only explanation I have was nerves. In other words, I was too busy concentrating on what was going on around me that I wasn't concentrating on myself and my own race. As soon as the 2nd lap came around (roughly 25 minute lap times), I was settled in and comfortable. I was able to focus more on my body positioning and the course as well as regulate my breathing.

 

That said, here is my problem and my question to you. What should be done in instances when I am gripping the bike with my legs too much? Although the arm pump went away and my upper body felt great, I did end up getting a major cramp in my left hamstring and calf muscle. So bad as a matter of fact that it transpired into a pretty gnarly crash that had me sidelined for what seemed like forever trying to walk the cramp off before continuing the race. Is this as simple as not stretching out enough prior to the race? Maybe not enough water the night before? It seams to be an ongoing issue I have that I would really like to kick.

 

Great question!  Cramping is usually a deficiency in sodium (salt) and potassium - both of which are lost through your sweating.  If you don't have a family history of high blood pressure, then salt your food - it will help eliminate your cramping.  

 

Regarding your legs, I would look at your lifting schedule - it needs to be sport specific (i.e. handle load levels with movement added).  In addition to being strong, you need to have optimum range of motion to ensure that your muscles are not working against each other because of muscle tightness (for example quads and hamstrings).  

 

I have been out of pocket the last two weeks, but will get both the strength and flexibility series together for you guys as soon as possible.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  

-Coach Robb

I get arm pump.

 

1) to tight

2) not riding loose.

 

When I am on my "game" and in the flow I never get arm pump I am moving freely on the bike and just feel good. the problem is I never know how to get into that groove... it is really the best feeling in all the world. I wish I knew how to turn it on at the start of every ride

 

Look at your warm up before the race.  Many people are afraid that if they warm up, they will be tired for the race.  If you can't warm up for 20 minutes prior to the race without being too tired to race, then you are not in shape.

 

By warming up, you activate a system call the Lactic Acid Shuffle - the muscles gets familiar with the presence of lactic acid which makes the early race effort more productive.  Your goal is to be sweating and have the lactic acid shuffle activated PRIOR to the start of the race.  This will eliminate you using the fist half of the race to get up to speed. 

 

Please email me and I will send you an ideal warm up routine to help make your opening effort more productive.

-Coach Robb

I'm not agreeing with you 100%, I think you get arm pump when you are not feeling comfortable on the bike/track your riding on and you hold on tighter. 

 

I get arm pump on the track but never or it's very minor when trail riding.

 

it's not a strength issue or a hydration issue cause most people I know including me get arm pump in the beginning or first half of the day and once you cycle it out a few times your good to go and riding like a champ in the later half. Who is more hydrated later in the day and you surely didn't get stronger all of a sudden. Anyway that's my opinion/experience.

 

Thank you for your comments and honest feelings!  I agree with your perspective, if you are not comfortable, you will definitely get tight and pump up - no doubt.

 

However, lack of strength, flexibility and hydration levels are all variables that contribute to muscular endurance.  I will be posting a series of videos about all of these so that you can see the relevancy soon.  

-Coach Robb

I'm a chronic arm pump sufferer and it's mainly because I'm too fat and deconditioned (not to mention older than the dirt itself). It is worse on the first day of riding after a few days off the bike. I am usually able to "ride through" the arm pump but I have a few tricks I've learned over the years from some fast guy friend desert racers that help a bunch. Subsequent days are always better. Ride more!

 

1. Grips, handlebar, and lever positions are very important. Levers more parallel to the ground will stretch the flexor compartment causing fresh blood in and out of the extensor compartment also.

 

2. Hydrate and take an Advil or two prior to riding or racing. Stretch all three forearm compartments prior to riding. I like Vitalyte in my camelback. Warm up a little by stretching and maybe some jumping jacks.

 

3. Focus. Look ahead. BREATH. I say "ABC's" when I first start out and it helps regulate my breathing.

 

4. Attack position. I have to remind myself all the time to get ding toed and knee the tank. Get those elbows up and get the head over the axel. Stand-up!

 

Physiology of arm pump is complex and there is absolutely an emotional component. I've noticed when I'm rested, hydrated, and not emotionally stressed I have fewer issues with arm pump. If I'm going between bikes getting more arm pumps on one bike than the other I will try to match the control positions on the bikes to the one that works best with less arm pump. I get worse arm pump in cold weather than in hot weather but that's probably because I'm half lizard after living in the desert so long.

 

5. Find your groove. Ride your ride. Next thing you know you'll be worried about other parts of your body malfunctioning before the ride is over.

 

Thanks, Coach Robb! GOOD STUFF!

I'm a chronic arm pump sufferer and it's mainly because I'm too fat and deconditioned (not to mention older than the dirt itself). It is worse on the first day of riding after a few days off the bike. I am usually able to "ride through" the arm pump but I have a few tricks I've learned over the years from some fast guy friend desert racers that help a bunch. Subsequent days are always better. Ride more!

 

1. Grips, handlebar, and lever positions are very important. Levers more parallel to the ground will stretch the flexor compartment causing fresh blood in and out of the extensor compartment also.

 

2. Hydrate and take an Advil or two prior to riding or racing. Stretch all three forearm compartments prior to riding. I like Vitalyte in my camelback. Warm up a little by stretching and maybe some jumping jacks.

 

3. Focus. Look ahead. BREATH. I say "ABC's" when I first start out and it helps regulate my breathing.

 

4. Attack position. I have to remind myself all the time to get ding toed and knee the tank. Get those elbows up and get the head over the axel. Stand-up!

 

Physiology of arm pump is complex and there is absolutely an emotional component. I've noticed when I'm rested, hydrated, and not emotionally stressed I have fewer issues with arm pump. If I'm going between bikes getting more arm pumps on one bike than the other I will try to match the control positions on the bikes to the one that works best with less arm pump. I get worse arm pump in cold weather than in hot weather but that's probably because I'm half lizard after living in the desert so long.

 

5. Find your groove. Ride your ride. Next thing you know you'll be worried about other parts of your body malfunctioning before the ride is over.

 

Thanks, Coach Robb! GOOD STUFF!

 

Cubera,

Thank you for watching and sharing your tips with the TT community!  

-Coach Robb

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About Robb

Coach Robb has been working with riders & racers since 1987 and is the founder of the Complete Racing Solutions Performance Program, the Mental Blueprint of Success, MotoE Amateur Development Program, MotoE Educational Series & Nutritionally Green Supplements based out Orlando Florida.

 

http://completeracingsolutions.com/

 
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