Climbing - Avoiding Arm Pump

Rock Climbing has swept the athletic world and become one of the most physically and mentally demanding activities to put strength, agility, balance & endurance to the test. Colorado has over 70 indoor climbing gyms spread throughout the state that harness ever-changing routes and challenges along with infinite mountains to explore and climb outside. It is no wonder climbing is one of Colorado’s fastest growing sports. 

Training and muscle recovery play a critical role in keeping climbers at the top of their game to reach the top of their routes. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced my arms getting ‘pumped’ while climbing in Rumney in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I was the furthest along a route that I had climbed at that point on what was probably a 5.6 rated climb but felt like a 5.12 to my un-experienced arms. Having to completely give up and be released down from the climb because my arms were rock solid and my hands could not hold onto a single hold was a defeat I had yet to experience. “Your arms are pumped” my belayer said to me.

Arm pump? I had never heard of such a thing. Turns out there are a number of reasons that cause this burning buildup of lactic acid in your forearms and hands as well as ways to avoid this firey fate.  

The use of a Cryosphere in between climbs is a great aid to release the quick buildup of lactic acid in your forearms as well as reducing any inflammation with the cold that it provides.  The sphere will stay cold for 6 hours so you & your climbing buddies can use it throughout your entire climbing session. Using the sphere to roll out and massage (self-myofascial release) on your arms post-climb will help to release tension that causes sore muscles and pain points in your muscles and joints.


Additional techniques to avoid or manage arm pump:

*Start on smaller, shorter climbs. Give your muscles ample time to warm up.

*Find a spot on your route to rest your arms. Let them hang by your sides for a minute or two to push some blood back into your hands.

*Shake your arms out to release tension.

*Off route – trying exercises like straightening your arm then pulling back on your fingers towards your body to stretch out the forearms. 

Always warm up, always cool down. Pack a Cryosphere with you and you’ll always have a tool to keep you performing at your best.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published