Why do hand/fore-arm muscles “lock up” after very high-powered effort?

Why do hand/fore-arm muscles “lock up” after very high-powered effort?

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Inspired from Why does it hurt the next day after doing significant exercise? with its excellent answer:

In climbing, you can put tremendous load on the hand/fore-arm muscles (specifically, flexor pollicus longus and flexor digitorum profundus). What happens is often that you are not just fatigued, but that the muscles seem to "lock up" - they subjectively feel "hard", it seems impossible to relax and the problem does not go away after a few minutes, by stretching (which will actually become quite painful) or by self-massage.

The muscles are not necessarily showing the burning sensation that indicates lactate buildup according to the answer for the linked question. This effect seems to be a main cause for athletes to prematurely end a training session because there's little hope to solve it except for a long (hours… ) rest. People have trouble opening doors etc. because the muscles seem to be completely wasted. Onset is immediate during or after a straining exercise, not later, like DOMS would be. After a good nights sleep, the problem usually seems to go away, it is not a day-long soreness.

Is that effect rather related to damage (micro tears etc.) or some chemical process? Is there a good way to prevent it, either in the short or long term, i.e. by training specifically for/against it? Are you aware of other muscles that show the same behaviour? I have only experienced it in those.


  1. Devisser

    You are not right. I'm sure. Email me at PM.

  2. Stafford

    I agree, a useful phrase

  3. Rui

    is absolutely not in accordance with the previous sentence

  4. Kazisar

    I suggest you go to the site, which has many articles on this issue.

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