RIDE, RIDE, and RIDE some more. This is the only truly effective way I have seen of overcoming it. Stretch your forearms and wrists good also. As far as exercises go, lightweight wrists curls help some people (high reps), but most people I ride with say the more you ride the less the effects are. I know at the start of a Dessert race I sometimes get it bad but if I remember to relax it goes away quickly. This seems to work no matter what kind of racing I am doing, even mountain biking.
There are a lot of good exercises. None of them I know about enough to describe.
However, one good way to reduce arm pump is to make sure you are properly hydrated BEFORE race day. Some people will still get arm pump even then but I have found from conversations with a lot of others that ride that the biggest complainers of arm pump are those that don't drink enough water.
It is a simple test. Drink a gallon of water a day for 2 weeks and see if your arm pump decreases. It worked for me.
OK, we may know some ways to avoid it. I know I ultimately get it. I have been trying to find ways to get rid of it when I am still in a moto. I bit more open on the hand, wiggle the fingers, it seems to work. In my novice classes they really don't catch up. It is not really a speed break, just a little more out of control.
once you've got "it"....try to focus on RELAXING when you can (i.e. smooth sections, over jumps, etc...) and remember to BREATHE deeply. Try to not keep a "death grip" on the bars....Breathe, relax, breathe, relax, breathe, relax--repeat this mantra....
Now, having said that...do not give up on prevention! There ARE many things you can do to mitigate the effects of armpump!( I currently ride a 500--I know!!!
) first off, I agree with the above posts--Don't underestimate the power of water--hydration is a key factor. I am not talking about drinking Gatorade (et all), the day of the race--I am talking about on a CELLULAR level--drink "tons" of water starting (at least) 72 hours before your race. Next, get plently of potassium in your system--potatoes, bananas, supplements etc...I also think armpump has more to do with circulation than "strength"--try to loosen up (i.e ride HARD in practice, do excercises before you moto, etc...) before the race to get your blood "flowing"....
I still get armpump real bad on occasion and the other times I am not affected by it at all, so by no means do I have the answers....just what works best for me...hope this helps....
Also, you mention "t"not affecting speed, but control...watch this--if something is affecting your control, it canaffect your speed in a MAJOR way! By that I mean, if you "pumpup" real bad it is best to back off and come back to "fight" at a later time--most (if not ALL) of my "big" (read: injury inducing) get-offs have occured when I was pumped and crashed as a result of something I normally would have "saved." Just a caveat....
I have never had arm pump before this past year. I used to ride a lot in the Rockies and such. In the years before I had physical jobs including an electrical apprenticeship. In electrical work a high percentage of work is done using your hand grip. All day cutting wire, pulling wire, and using screwdrivers (in the dark days before cordless screwguns) makes for *very* strong hands and forearms.
Now I sit in an office most of the day and have several crews of guys out there "excercizing". My point is that I beleive arm pump can be overcome using strength training. Get a set of wrist excercizers and work with them throughout the day for 2 or 3 minutes at a time.
Arm pump typically attacks me the first laps of the day...and I mean seriously attacks, like I can't even hold onto the bike after just three laps. Then after I rest for about 10 minutes and head back out, it's much better. By the end of the day, the rest of my body gives out before arm pump forces me to pull off. Relaxation and getting into a groove definitely help in my case. (Perhaps the initial nervous excitement of getting to the track also aggravates it???)
Also, I've recently picked up a little exercise that helped some my last ride and I hope it will give some relief through the summer. Whenever I'm sitting idle (driving, mostly), I open and close my hands as rapidly as possible. You'd be surprised in how short a time you feel it in your forearms. It works even better if you cock your wrist back as far as possible when you do this. Alternatively, I also squeeze and release the steering wheel as I drive.
I read about this in DR or DB--I stretch the cuffs of my jersey until they are loose and also leave the cuffs on my gloves loose. I've been doing it for years but I don't know if it helps or not. I don't pump any more though....
1. Like several people mentioned, HYDRATE yourself. One gallon a day, everyday, for the rest of your life. Your body is 98% H2O. When your our riding and your mouth becomes dry, your too late. All of the water in the world will not help at this point. Like someone said earlier, it take at least 3 days to fully hydrate your body while drinking a gallon a day.
2. Full body cardio vascular exercises. Rowing is probably the best full bodied exercise you can perform. It gets the blood flowing in and out of the muscles. Gary Semics says you should be able to do these exercises at 70 to 80% of your heart rate for at least an hour. Preferably 1.5 hours.
3. Make sure you are getting sufficient minerals and vitamins. Magnesium, potassium etc. These aid in transfer of blood in and out of the muscles. Take a one a day, and eat at least 2 bananas a day.
4. Warm up for at least 10 minutes before a ride or race. Studies show that you are 13% less likely to pump up if your warm up before competition.
5. Practice on not death gripping the bars when not needed. (i.e.. jumping through the air, flat straight away). Always grip the bike with your knees 90 % of the time. This will allow you to lessen your grip which in turn will allow the blood to exit your forearms which in turn will not let lactic acid build up in them which in turn will not give you arm pump.
6. Buy Gary Semic "Eliminating Arm Pump" video, and don't let your 2 year old yank out the tape to it an ruin it. I speak from experience.
I really don't think there is a single tip that will get you where you need to be. For most people, it is a combination of several things that helps. These six steps I mentioned finally worked for me. It took 12 years of racing though.
Another perspective on arm pump, it has nothing to do with hydration. Arm pump is the result of anaerobic metabolism due to insuficient oxygen delivery to the non-dilated arterial system in the muscle bed. Anaerobic metabolism results in lactic acid build up and the swollen, dead forearm feel. Once the cardiovascular system is up and running efficently the oxygen debt is eventually paid and the arm pump resolves. It takes a good whole body warm-up and sweat however.
Hydration is very important, but it has nothing to do with arm pump. By the way, all those energy and sport drinks are a waste of money and time, but very profitable to the companies selling them.
when im riding i try to support most of my weight on the pegs, then the seat, and the least amount of weight supported on the handlebars. I find it very important to firmly grip the seat with your knees while riding. On the easier parts of a track i am able to loosen my grip till the point where my fingers are not even holding the bar, and i'm still able to be in control. Try this sometime and maybe it will work for you.