Surely I’m not the only person to experience tingling in my arm when doing push ups.
Well, as it turns out, this is actually an extremely common occurrence.
In fact, I’ve spent some time scouring online fitness forums and Q&A sites, and I’ve found that there are many more people who are worried about this tingling sensation.
So, in this article I’ll explain why you get a tingling in your arms during push ups, and what you can do to fix this.
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Tingling in Arm When Doing Push Ups
There are various reasons why you get a tingling in your arm when doing push ups. However, the most common of these is typically a nerve issue. When it comes to push ups, this is likely to be ulnar nerve. This is a nerve that runs from your neck down to your wrist, and if pinched or trapped, it can cause discomfort anywhere from your collarbone, down your arm, to your elbow or wrist. That being said, it will most often cause a tingling sensation on the inside of the elbow or the tricep.
1. Tingling Could Indicate a Nerve Issue
Forget push ups for a moment, tingling typically indicates an issue with your nerves.
So, in effect, you could be looking at a trapped or pinched nerve.
Plus, exercise in general places stress on the body, and this could even involve putting excessive pressure on a nerve.
I will also say that if you regularly perform push ups, then you could be exacerbating the problem, especially if you’re doing a high volume of push ups.
There are actually three common areas where nerve impingement can occur when doing push ups.
However, the most common of these is definitely the ulnar nerve.
The ulnar nerve runs from your neck down to your hand, and is one of the main nerves located in your arm.
Furthermore, the ulnar nerve can often become constricted, especially through exercise.
This is typically noticeable beneath the collarbone, at the wrist, but most frequently on the inside of your elbow.
So, if you’re feeling the tingling sensation around the elbow or tricep area, it’s most likely to be your ulnar nerve.
The best way to treat this is through rest and gentle massage of the affected area.
Plus, you can perform a specific stretch in order to target the ulnar nerve.
Extend your arm out in front of you with your palm pointing straight ahead, as though you’re stopping traffic in front of you
Then with your other hand, bend the hand/wrist gently backwards and hold for 15-30 seconds.
Repeat this multiple times a day.
Other Potential Nerve Problems
If the tingling is more centralised around the wrist area, then this is likely to be carpal nerve compression.
This is typically caused by pressure on the median nerve and is commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some factors that may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include computer work, use of vibrating tools, previous wrist dislocations or breaks, etc.
That being said, you have to take into account that the wrists are placed under a huge amount of stress when performing push ups.
So, if you’re doing lots of push ups on a regular basis, this could provide an overuse explanation.
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Finally, if you’re feeling the tingling in your upper arm and on towards your neck, this would indicate a cervical spine issue.
If you’re suffering a cervical spine nerve compression, then it’s likely you’ll be in a fair amount of pain.
So, it is wise to completely stop doing push ups for a while, and have your GP assess your condition.
2. Tingling Could Indicate Poor Blood Circulation
Something else to consider is poor blood circulation.
Now, quite clearly, exercise in general is great for your blood circulation.
However, a lack of exercise can also lead to poor blood circulation.
That being said, as you’re feeling a tingling in your arms during push ups, I’ll hazard a guess that you exercise fairly regularly.
Therefore, there could be a wide variety of other reasons for poor blood circulation.
Rather than trying to explain this or even self-diagnose, I would suggest that you speak with a medical professional.
The most common reasons for poor circulation include, heart and arterial issues, diabetes, obesity, blood clots, etc.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this looks like a very scary list, although the problem could be something completely untoward.
So, rather than overly worrying about what could be something or nothing, visit your doctor for a professional diagnosis.
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3. You’re Performing Push Ups With Poor Form
The final reason that you’re potentially feeling a tingling in your arm when doing push ups is down to poor form.
In fact, if your form isn’t on-point with just about any exercise, you’re going to run into problems.
Additionally, push ups do place stress on shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints, as well as the connective tissues.
One of the main cues for performing push ups is to retract your shoulder blades.
So, before you even perform your first rep, you’ll want to pull your shoulder blades back and down.
Unfortunately, way too many people allow their shoulders to internally rotate during push ups.
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This not only puts your shoulder joint in a precarious position, any discomfort or pain is likely to travel down your arms to both your elbows and wrists.
Your hand placement during push ups can also cause your shoulders to become internally rotated.
Personally, I like to place my hands on the ground and then literally twist my hands until they’re pointing outwards slightly.
My index fingers will be pointing straight ahead, whereas my other fingers are splayed out to the sides.
Even though this won’t affect your tingling arms, you should also contract your core, glutes, and quads when doing push ups.
This allows to maintain a tight body throughout, which will lead to better form, plus greater potential for muscle and strength growth.
So, I hope you understand that there are various reasons why you get a tingling in your arm when doing push ups.
However, the most likely source is your ulnar nerve.
Perhaps, the nerve has become trapped or pinched, and this is causing the tingling sensation.
Then again, the tingling feeling you get during push ups could be down to poor blood circulation.
And of course, if you perform push ups with poor form, you’re more likely to experience weird feelings, pain, or soreness.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.