All aerialists know the feeling… you’ve been in the air for a few minutes and your forearm muscle feel as though they’re bulging like Popeye the Sailor! Sometimes the sensation passes quickly while other times your forearms are so pumped you can barely grip your apparatus!
The forearms are rather complex when we factor in all of the muscles that accompany movement of the elbow, wrist and fingers (hello all things aerial!). In addition there are 18 muscles that make up our forearms! Woooaaahhh!
The muscles are categorized into two groups, flexors & extensors. Flexors make up the front side (anterior) and extensors make up the back side (posterior) of your forearms. The flexors have about twice the bulk and strength of the extensors.
If you’d like to geek out on forearm anatomy click here!
Next time you find yourself in a pumped situation try these 5 stretches! They are also helpful to include as part of your cool down after practice. Overly tight forearms can lead to tennis/golfers elbow and potential shoulder issues if not addressed.
PULL YOUR DIGITS!
Palm Away - Flexors
Lengthen your arm in front of you. Pull your fingers back using your opposite hand with your palm facing away from you and fingers pointing down. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each hand.
Palm Facing You - Extensors
Lengthen your arm in front of you. Pull your fingers back using your opposite hand with your palm facing toward you and fingers pointing down. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each hand.
2) BASIC FOREARM STRETCH - Flexors
Kneel and sit on your heels. Place your hands on the floor with your fingers facing towards you and your palms flat. The further forward your reach your hands the more stretch you’ll feel. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
3) INSIDE OUT EAGLE ARMS - Extensors
Reach your arms forward and turn them inward so the back of your hands face each other. Cross your wrists and interlace your fingers. Bend your elbows bringing your hands toward you, do your best to keep your hands interlaced as you extend your arms away from you. Straightening your arms fully may be quite a challenge depending on how tight your wrist extensors are? (if Flamenco grip is challenging for you it’s likely your wrist extensors are to blame!) Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds on each side.
4) KNUCKLE DOWN - Extensors
Kneel and sit on your heels. Make fists and press your knuckles together. Place your fists on the mat with the back of your hands rooted down. Try to straighten your arms…. breathe….! The tighter your fists the more stretch you’ll feel! Hold for 20-30 seconds.
5) MASSAGE IT OUT Flexors & Extensors
Kneel and sit on your heels. Lean forward placing one arm on the mat (extensor or flexor side up, whichever needs it!). Place your knee on your forearm and massage it back and forth at least 10 times or as long as you feel you need! This is a great way to release ‘Popeye Arm’ and show yourself some love post-practice!
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