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Fixing Forearm Pain – The New RICE

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO BATTLING FOREARM PAIN

I am always looking for and trying new ways to prevent and treat forearm discomfort and pain. This is something I have been trying for a while and I am interested in hearing what YOU think, and what you do to prevent and combat forearm pain in your training. Please leave a comment to let us know what you do to stay healthy…For now here is something I have been trying lately. Wondering what your thought are.

We’ve all heard of the acronym R.I.C.E for addressing pain and injury.

    R = REST
    I = ICE
    C = COMPRESSION
    E = ELEVATION

As you can see, the first letter, R, stands for REST.

Unfortunately, when your mental stability depends on your ability to get into the gym and hit it hard on a regular basis, REST isn’t always on our list of priorities.

Forearm pain is common for many dedicated strength enthusiasts. Labeled with many different names, including tendonitis, epicondylitis, and others, fixing forearm pain can be just about as hard putting the correct name on it.

I have dealt with this condition over the years, because of my concentration on Grip Strength Feats and competing in Grip Strength Contests. My hands and lower arms take a beating throughout the year.

To my benefit, since so much of my time has been devoted to keeping my lower arms healthy, I have spent a lot of time researching and putting into practice many methods for injury prevention and recovery.

To prevent and recover from nagging forearm pain, I have been using my own R.I.C.E. acronym
that is slightly different from the classic one, but has served me very well for most of the nagging conditions that come with intense forearm and grip training.

R – Raise:

Just like Elevation from the classic acronym, I try to keep my arm raised above my heart when injured.

I also especially keep my lower arms off any hard surfaces at all times
. If I put my elbow down on a desk or table, I put a towel between my arm and the table. I avoid any kind of undue stress or pressure from things like the edges of tables, doorways, etc. Reducing the amount of external trauma helps you manage the trauma you already have. Sounds crazy, but it makes a difference.

I – Increase Temperature:

I have had ZERO luck with Ice over the years, and Dick Hartzell has been warning that icing injuries doesn’t work since at least 2002, so I go a different routine and do all I can to increase blood flow to the forearms. As a preventive method, I will wear them at the beginning of a workout to get blood in there from the beginning, and if I feel any inflammation coming on, I keep them on when I am not even lifting in order to maintain that increased temperature within the area.

I try not to use them all the time in my workouts because I do not want to become “dependent” on them once the pain is gone. This might just be “in my head” but I’m not sure. My sleeves are loose and are worn to the point that they can really only be useful for increasing temperature and do nothing for aiding lifts.

C – Compression:

If I get pain the forearms, I compress the tendons down, away from the spot of pain. This elongates the area of tissue that rubs with other surfaces and can reduce inflammation in the main spot that is causing pain.

This type of wrap does not have to be expensive or flashy. I use an old velcro wrap when I start to feel my forearm start to ache. If you use this method, don’t wrap so tight that you cut circulation off through the rest of your lower arm. Just wrap it tight enough to change the way the forearm muscles move in your forearm.

E – Extensors:

Far too many people are strong in their flexors but weak in their extensors. This imbalance at the very least will keep you from developing your full potential for strength, while it can also lead to injuries.

I knew this for years, but still neglected my extensors until this year. BAD JEDD!!!

Now, I work extensors every single workout. One of the easiest ways to do this is with rubber bands. I have the IronMind Rubber Bands that I use at my desk, but I keep other rubber bands throughout the house, in the car, and in the gym, so I don’t lose or ruin my IronMind set. The rubber bands I use I got from Staples and are #83 rubber bands.

Just wrap the rubber band around the outside of your fingers and then open them up against the resistance. You should feel the muscles in the back of the forearm working. If not, then open your fingers more.

When I hit these with one rubber band, I go for 50 reps without stopping. When I do it with two rubber bands per hand, i shoot for at least 20 reps without stopping.

This kind of high-rep work is great for blowing the forearms up and flushing the area with blood, especially the spot on the back of the forearm/elbow that gets riddled with pain from lateral epicondylitis.

If you don’t like the idea of hitting Rubber Bands for so many reps, another variation of Rubber Band Extensions I like is the Double Extension. This is done by first extending the fingers against the band and then fully extending the wrist. This heightens the level of contraction in the muscles in the back of the forearm, stimulating them even more intensely. I work this variation in quite often and love it.


First, Extend the Fingers and then Extend the Wrist for the Rubber Band Double Extension

Keeping your lower arms and hands strong and healthy requires a balanced approach between proper strength training and injury prevention in your program.

The things above is just a sampling of what I do to stay healthy for Feats and Contests. I do a lot of other things outside of the gym to prevent issues from occurring and to keep current conditions from worsening, but these are some of the things that you can do that require very little time and money. They are just slightly different from the classic medical approach.

What are some things you do? Leave your comments below.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

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15 Responses to “Fixing Forearm Pain – The New RICE”

  1. gene pires Says:

    good info. I’ve been dealing with some pain in the upper forearm near the elbow for a couple months. thanks for the alternatives to rice.

    What are the sleeves that you use to keep the wrist and forearm warm? Elbow brace/sleeves worn around the forearm?

    what about self massage with a rolling pin?

  2. Rob Says:

    Great article Jedd, I love the band extensor movement but need to put it into practice. Especially at the moment as for the first time I’m experiencing forearm pain after fat dumbbell training. I’ve been doing some self massage with my elbows and thumbs which seems to be helping.
    A good one mentioned here is the rolling pin, I’ve had my wife giving me some grief with this last week which has helped too.
    Getting plenty of blood into the area will be key for me as I need to get on with reaching my next goal. I’ll be doing this with David Horne’s Orbigrip.
    Cheers Rob

  3. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Rob,

    Don’t delay with the rubber band work and other preventive/recuperative measures. The quicker you attack it, the quicker it will heal.

    All the best,

    Jedd

  4. Jedd Johnson Says:

    The sleeves I use are pictured above. They are just tight enough to stay on my arm and keep the area warm.

    The Rolling pin is outstanding. I use that too, but didn’t include it in this particular article. I like the rolling pin better than the stick to be honest with you. I also use a soft tissue ball on my arm which is outstanding.

    Jedd

  5. brent Says:

    since you’ve been pushing the extensor work so much lately I’ve been making more and more of an effort to add it in. It has seemed to help speed up healing on a couple of minor injuries and my recovery is going better. thanks.

  6. Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins Says:

    You know man, I’ve also had more benefit with increasing temperature than I have ice (and not just w/my forearms). Now and then my left shoulder will ache (have had some rotator cuff issues over the years) and get some ache in my left elbow as well. When I keep these areas warm, they end up feeling a lot better than when I ice them. Good stuff.

  7. Jedd Johnson Says:

    I agree dude. If I ever use cold, it is during a contrast bath. I rarely use ice anymore. I get much more benefit from getting new blood to the area. Thanks for posting.
    Jedd

  8. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Sure thing man. This is the best my right forearm has felt in years and the only major change has been Extensor Attack.

    Keep up the good extensor work and you are going to shoot past me.

    Jedd

  9. coach mike Says:

    I quit “R.I.C.E” after reading “Don’t ice that sprain”. Hate to plug some thing but it was dead on. Last season we had a normally season ending ankle twist that was black and blue all the way around. 3 weeks later he was back in action 100%. Your extensor work fits right in with the theory behind the book.

  10. Jim Smith Says:

    Thanks a lot bro!
    Jedd

  11. brent Says:

    I appreciate you sharing this information. Its generous to share what has been beneficial for you. I have had lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) & medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) at different times on both elbows. I think I may have even had some partial tendon tears. I do a lot of massages all day and train pretty hard on forearms and grip as well as martial art stuff & a lot of heavy shoveling in the winter. It got to the point I couldn’t even shave or tie my shoes with my right arm. This is an overuse injury. Overuse……so rest is paramount in my opinion. You made one point that is really really good! Keeping that external aggrevation to a minimum (not letting the elbow bang or get pressured against hard objects). Buuut, the ice thing………..man that ice was my only salvation when the elbow started throbbing. Maybe I’ll try heat at some point and give that theory a try. Hey if putting peanut butter on it makes it feel better then do it.
    Thanks, brent

  12. Guy Jones Says:

    Great article Jedd, I couldn’t agree more with your approach to heat instead of cold. I also use elbow sleeves and wrist wraps when i need to and they always help. (knee sleeves also do the job nicely when the weather gets colder and my knees keep getting older). One thing I sometimes do is flush the affected area by icing and then heating, this works well for me. I also recommend the liberal use of Arnica, especially on strains, sprains and bruises.

    Guy

  13. violet Says:

    hi i’m a pianist and i am experiencing pain on the left side of my forearm near the elbow of my right arm. Do you think your method will work for me? thx

  14. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Yes, I would give it a try. No promises, but this kind of thing works for me!

  15. Dave Farquhar Says:

    AS always, Jedd, great suggestions. I have been dealing with tendon pain on the outer part of the forearm. I have the Ironmind bands, but I want to try extending my hand after expanding the bands. Thanks again!

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