Arm fatigue - Forearm Pump

Does anyone else get arm fatigue half way through a race? I debate pulling off the track sometimes.

Could it be I’m grabbing the steering wheel too tight?

Steering height too high? I feel like if I lower it then I’ll hit my knees.

Should I lower and move seat back to straighten legs?

Physically I’m not the strongest out there but not the weakest ether so I don’t think it’s my physical shape.

Any suggestions?

Common causes of arm fatigue would be:

  • Poor conditioning/strength = work out more
  • Death grip on the wheel = learn to relax and get more comfortable with the kart
  • Poor seat fitment = seems odd at first but if you are holding yourself in the seat with your arms because you aren’t snug in there, you’ll tire out quickly

Forearm “pump” is a fairly common issue for karting. Where you get swollen and painful arm muscles from excess blood flow and exertion.

Paging @Trey_Shannon

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Death grip most likely. You dont need to hold the kart tightly in the same way you don’t need to hold a golf club tightly. But it’s nerve wracking so you do, unintentionally. Do the old “I’m holding a baby bird between my hands and the wheel and I don’t want to crush it” trick.

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I’ll have to tell myself not to death grip because I think this is part of it.

Never thought of the seat fitment. Good point I’ll look into this.

Thank you

Good tip I’ll try thinking about this or put a picture of a bird on my wheel :wink:

Thank you

Admittedly an odd mental image but I recalled it from golf where I found it helpful.

If you hold a golf club intentionally loosely, you’d think the rotational forcenof accelerating the club head to 100mph would cause the club to be flung down the fairway. But, if you barely hold on, your mind does the heavy lifting and keeps it under control.

Same thing with driving. I amuse myself often by driving one handed. This forces you to let the flow of the kart do the hard work. Best attempted in sim at speed.

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Never had it in my first few races. Then I had a dry day where the grip started to come up. And my arms were shot. But I was trying everything to chase a guy down and had broken 2 ribs. So I think I was trying to hold myself stable with the wheel so I would be so pressed into the seat.

This could be the reason as I feel my body come out of the seat in the high speed corners.

Butt lifting up under braking/turning or too much lateral movement in seat?

Lifting when turning somehow, I think

That sounds ok. Side to side is normal so long as the play isn’t extreme. If your butt was coming off the seat under braking, I’d think your seat would be too large. They are sort of designed to have the waist of the saddle hold you down slightly by sorta pinching a bit at the waist.

I have always said a seat should be just large enough that it is not uncomfortable to breath. People often have seats (and helmets) that are too big. If you sat in the seat on the couch or kitchen chair when you get up it should be stuck to you. If not it is probably too large

I wrote an article about this, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.


Then it’s probably too tight because I get out of it no problem. I’ll have to pay attention when I drive as to how I move and hold the wheel.

This may sound goofy but I often take a protein shake after a hard day racing, if I’ve got jelly arms. You know - the kind of thing gym bunnies take. It does help muscle recovery and building where it counts.

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That’s not goofy at all. I have some Recoverite that I take after long days at the track and at the gym. It definately helps.


Arm fatigue is completely normal. Karting is very physical, especially in higher grip conditions, so proper conditioning and physical fitness are pretty critical. Not sure what sort of shape you’re in, but even someone in decent shape may experience big time arm pump over a long run. This is where more experienced drivers excel, as they know how to focus on the driving as opposed to the fatigue, and can still manage to be relatively consistent instead of falling out of the saddle. This again comes back to physical fitness, so the best thing you can do is continue to pound laps. There isn’t really a direct substitute for seat time.

In regards to coming out of the seat during cornering, I’ve found that sometimes a similar effect can happen to me when I’m putting too much pressure on the heel stops and/or steering wheel. Your body is never going to be entirely relaxed if you’re running high grip and high HP, but it’s always good to do a self-check and make sure you’re not too tense in the seat.

Great reply, lately I tend to run the races and haven’t practiced much. I’ll try to get to the track this week and burn laps and understand what I’m doing and built some muscles. Thank you

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Sorry for such a late reply to the page, but TJ nailed it. Arm pump is a result of too much blood rushing to the forearm muscles. While it’s important for them to be strong enough to handle steering loads and vibration, making them bigger will also cause them to require more blood, increasing arm pump. Sounds backwards, doesn’t it? Forearm muscles are best conditioned by driving the kart. Looks like everyone else so far has provided pretty solid advice, so I won’t regurgitate it all, but get some practice and figure out what’s really causing the problem, and make sure you’re not holding the wheel too tight.

If you feel like you need to grip the wheel super tight so your hands don’t slip, try some tennis racket tape. It makes the grip bigger, softer, and stickier, all good things for easing the load on the forearms and hands.


Ooh yah, that’s a great idea. Fat grips can help train you to hold lightly. Less easy to squeeze over a larger surface area, I guess.

Again, you see this in golf with ridiculously fat putter grips. Golfers get the “yips” and the fat grips is to try to prevent tensing up and twitching mid-putt. It does help with the twitchiness but sadly doesn’t help with aim!