#51: How to Reduce Arm Pump for Motocross

#51: How to Reduce Arm Pump for Motocross

The physical and physiological demands of motocross requires athletes utilize enhanced rest and recovery strategies. With multiple motos back to back and minimal time between each race, rest and recovery are essential. Motocross athletes do not have time for peripheral fatigue in the arms and legs to take over their body (ie. arm pump). Also, after a weekend of racing, motocross athletes are right back to training and cannot let something like muscle soreness keep them from peak performance.

PowerDot combines the technology of both portable wireless Smart Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) to ensure optimal recovery for motocross athletes


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Motocross places intense demands on the body resulting in bodily fatigue. Fatigue decreases performance of specific motor actions required in this sport during the race as well as in training and this negatively impacts overall performance of the rider. 

A race may last anywhere from 15-30 minutes. This entire time, athletes endure constant isometric contractions to stabilize their body and motorbike while absorbing shocks and vibrations experienced during a race. 

The constant and rapid changes of direction, jumps, curves, and braking requires significant anaerobic metabolism and results in increased plasma oxidative stress and damage as athletes are performing at vigorous intensities between 90-100% of their maximal heart rate. 

The vigorous physical exertion causes high levels of exertion and fatigue as measured by lactic acid levels after a race. This fatigue consequently reduces strength and power production post race. This is detrimental when the next moto race may take place within 45-minutes. Electrical muscle stimulation may be used to enhance blood flow, assisting muscle recovery by removing lactic acid and returning pH back to resting levels.

At the end of a full day of races the body is physically exhausted and soreness may begin to set in immediately or within the coming days. Motocross requires athletes have high fitness levels and soreness and achy joints after a race day may delay training or result in fatigued training that can further increase the risk of injury in an already high-risk extreme sport. TENS provides pain relief to sore and achy muscles and joints so that the body feels fresh and ready to perform day in and day out. 

The extreme and vigorous physical and physiological demands placed on motocross riders requires athletes utilized enhanced recovery modalities. The dual NMES and TENS technology of PowerDot clears lactic acid and restores pH by actively recovering the muscle in between motos and reduces pain and soreness by clearing metabolic debris. 

Ultimately, this reduces actual and perceived fatigue by the rider ensuring the body functions at optimal levels during races and training while reducing the risk of fatigue related injuries. 


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Mechanisms of Fatigue: Metabolic By-Product Accumulation

Fatigue negatively impacts performance. One of the major causes of fatigue is an accumulation of metabolic by-products that causes impairments in muscle contractile performance. 

Motocross may be considered an extreme form of exercise that results in glycogen depletion (stored carbohydrates in muscle used to make energy) as well as lactic acid and hydrogen ion accumulation. 

As glycogen levels decrease, feelings of fatigue increase. This is exacerbated by the fact that motocross riders wear equipment that increases the body’s temperature which causes glycogen to be depleted at an even faster rate. This makes post-race nutritional strategies important, but let’s focus on metabolic by-products.

Lactic acid and hydrogen ions accumulate at high-levels due to the high amount of anaerobic metabolism during a motocross race or training session. This results in a decrease in pH (more acidic) which causes that burning sensation in the muscles, pain, nausea, and disorientation. These are not symptoms athletes want to be feeling in between races. 

Most motocross athletes experience the burning and pain sensation in their upper arms, commonly called “arm pump”. Though, it is not uncommon for athletes to also have this accumulation of metabolic by-products in their lower extremities. Ultimately, these metabolic by-products cause peripheral fatigue in the arms, legs, as well as the entire body which may impair performance going into the next race.

Reduced Fatigue with PowerDot

Speedy recovery time is essential as minimal time is given between races. The key is to clear the lactic acid accumulated from the race and restore pH levels. By utilizing electrical muscle stimulation, a more active recovery environment is provided as opposed to passive recovery. 

Active recovery involves active muscular contractions in which athletes will exercise (maybe jog or cycle) at a low-intensity to recover the body. Though, this form of recovery is not easy for the motocross athlete to perform due to environmental factors as well as the need for proper post-race nutrition and hydration. Passive recovery is just resting and letting the body recover by doing nothing (just sitting or laying down). However, this is not an optimal form of recovery if an athlete has multiple races.

Compared to passive recovery, active recovery decreases the amount of time it takes to return the body to a normal physiological state. Utilizing electrical muscle stimulation brings a balance of both active and passive recovery. Blood flow is increased to the muscles through the contraction of the skeletal muscle by the NMES unit but the athlete does not have to go for a run or bring a stationary bike. This helps to oxidize lactic acid within the muscles thus clearing is from the blood. 

To reduce arm pump, riders should place the pads on their forearms and select the massage setting immediately as soon as they get back to their trailer. Within 30-40 minutes, about the time in between motos, riders arms will feel fresh and rejuvenated eliminating fatigue that has previously been felt in past races. 


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Soreness: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness


What about soreness felt in between races or the next day or two after? This soreness being felt has the potential to negatively impact performance, but not with PowerDot!

Lactic acid has long been associated with soreness, but it really goes beyond this. The cause of the soreness being felt is due to muscle damage and inflammation. Strenuous physical with sustained muscular contractions, like motocross riders experience, results in small microtears of muscle fibers causing an inflammatory signalling cascade.

The inflammatory response to the microtrauma of the skeletal muscle results in an increase in white blood cells. Neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) come to the injured site and bring other inflammatory friends with them as well. Neutrophils may also release oxygen free radicals (recall the oxidative stress mentioned earlier) that further damage the muscle cell membrane. These inflammatory cells cause the pain we feel by stimulating pain-sensitive nerve endings. 

Where there is damage, there is inflammation. The inflammation at the damaged skeletal muscle stimulates pain receptors which then tells our brain, “Ouch!”. 

This process may sometimes be rapid but generally takes time which is why it has been coined “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”, otherwise known as DOMS. DOMS is not sudden, but comes on days later to remind athletes that exactly they were working hard.

DOMS varies from slight stiffness to severe actual pain that can restrict movement. This is not ideal when an athlete needs to perform at high levels. 

Reduce Soreness with PowerDot

Using the PowerDot Smart muscle stimulator is vital in enhancing recovery time. In professional athletes, the utilization of NMES minimized short-term decrements in muscular power and athletes reported feeling less sore after using NMES. 

How does it do this?

Going back, inflammation triggers pain receptors resulting in the discomfort we feel from sore muscles. NMES creates an electro-induced hyperfusion that may help to wash out and clear away cellular debris accumulated during the inflammatory response. This results in muscles feeling less sore (or not sore at all) after a race or training session.

Not only can the PowerDot muscle stimulation technology help to reduce soreness but the Smart TENS therapy can also reduce soreness by shutting down or blocking the flow of pain signals from the muscles to the brain. 

Don’t delay the onset of grabbing PowerDot today! Take the recovery of your body seriously. The PowerDot mobile app has multiple programs already designed for you; all you have to do is hit go and you will find yourself living everyday to its fullest potential with your body feeling rejuvenated.

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