Forearm and Grip Strength

Grip strength is one of the key features of an aerial athlete, anyone will notice when shaking their hand! Whether you want to train pole, hoop or silks, grip strength is a must.


Our forearms are made of lots of small muscles we demand a lot of when we hang our body weight from just our hands.

There are two groups of muscles:

Flexors – 8 muscles that mainly work to bend your fingers and clench your hand into a fist.

Extensors – 12 muscles that mainly work to straighten your fingers and pull your hand back toward you, like in a ‘stop sign’.

The flexors attach on the inner side and the extensors on the outer side of your elbow.

Repetitive movements at your wrist and an increase in load these muscles are required to hold can cause pain, ranging from a slight niggle to training restricting agony.
Tendinopathy injuries can occur at the muscle-tendon attachment points near the elbow, causing pain, colloquially known as “golfer’s elbow” and “tennis elbow”. Some of you may have experienced this type of injury when you learnt Chinese Grip, if your top arm did not lift enough of your body weight, demanding more of your lower wrist – another time listening to your teacher for correct technique and progressions is important!

If you notice pain in your forearm with training – you may need to ease off, reducing load is crucial in healing tendinopathy injuries. Basically the tendon needs to catch up to the strength the muscle tissue has built, so the unit can cope with training demands.

Try applying ice after training and performing some gentle forearm stretches. If the niggle persists, I would highly recommend seeing a Physiotherapist for proper assessment and treatment.

We all love a bit of muscle pump to show off our tone at its best, but it is not so pleasant when it comes to our forearms that we rely so heavily on to hold our bodies in gravity defying positions. ‘Forearm pump’ can get in the way of training and sometimes cause numbness or tingling sensations in your hand when the tight muscles just won’t relax.

Some great ways to ease this tightness include:

– Rolling your forearm along a spin pole applying moderate pressure

– Rolling over a squash ball or cork
(Hang out in those tight, sore spots!)

Check out Dr. Jen Crane’s great post on forearm release!

Written by Lauren

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