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Why Does My Left Arm Feel So
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Last updated January 20, 2017 (originally published April 2, 2013)
By Editors, Mangoboss
Left arm weakness is fairly common. Since most of us are
right-handed, our world has been built to favor our right
hands. We’re likely to hold the subway strap with our right
hand, write with it, swing a club, racket or bat with it, throw
with it, use it to pick up our computer.
As a result, our right hands –and in general our right side of
our bodies –gets relatively stronger while our left side more
or less lags in strength throughout our lives. No problem.
Until it becomes a problem, that it. Why does your left arm
start to feel noticeably weak? What can cause a tingling in
your left arm or a sudden numbness, weakness or pain in
your left arm and are there any remedies that help? Does a
weak left arm mean something is wrong with your heart?
What Happened to Steve Stricker Is a Cautionary Tale
Steve Stricker is a 45-year old professional golfer. He’s been
named the comeback player of the year –twice –and is
generally regarded as the finest putter in professional golf
and the best golfer never to have won a major.
Steve is from Wisconsin and about three years ago, he took
some time off and headed back home where he spent several
weeks just relaxing, laying around the house and generally
doing nothing. That’s not a crime of course. But it did have
consequences for this usually active man. He woke up one
day and noticed that his neck was strained. He also noticed
that his whole left side was just weak. Too weak, in fact, to
sustain his normal range of motion in his golf swing. Steve
had an MRI to diagnose the neck problem. It was only after
going through a physical conditioning program that he finally
regained his normal left hand side strength.
Whether you are a golfer, a basketball player, a football man
or a weekend tennis warrior, chances are that you have
learned to play your sport with your dominant hand. Over
time, the dominant hand gets even stronger, and the less
dominant hand gets weaker.
That asymmetry doesn’t affect most of us for most of our
lives. Until, that is, something happens, such as an injury that
makes it impossible for you to play your sport, or an
extended vacation in which you just lay around and are not
active ---then the problems of asymmetry can come back to
haunt your weaker side. You may find, like pro golfer Steve
Stricker did, that even a brief period of inactivity can
seriously weaken your left side. That’s when it’s time to play
detective and turn on the workout program to re-balance
your body. Job One is strengthening your left side.
But one thing you should do before starting a strength
program is to have a heart screening from a doctor. A pain or
tingling in your left arm accompanied by weakness is one of
the common signs of heart distress or an impending heart
attack, and a generally weak feeling in your left arm may
indicate that your heart is unable to perform optimally.
Reasons Your Left Arm Feels Weak
There are many medical conditions that can cause left arm
The most common of them are related to your neck. If you
have a pinched nerve in the left side of your neck, this can
cause a sudden loss of feeling in your left arm. The weakness
can happen suddenly after you sleep in an awkward position
and wake up with a stiff neck. Or, it can happen gradually, as
a result of long-term neglect of fitness of your neck and arm
Left arm weakness can also be caused by issues related to
the arm itself, such as muscle atrophy from disuse.
Still other causes of left arm weakness are more serious, such
as heart problems. Numbness or pain in your left arm can
signal a blockage of blood to your heart. In this case, usually
left arm weakness is accompanied by other symptoms such as
shortness of breath.
If your arm suddenly goes limp, then you should be screened
for stroke. Stroke often causes the brain to shut off signals to
one of your limbs, causing it to suddenly flop down at your
side. If you can’t hold your arm up, you should consider this
a medical emergency. Call 911.
If you can move your arm, but it is chronically weak, get an
MRI to identity the exact cause (neck, arm, shoulder) and of
course to rule out more serious latent problems.
Remedies for Left Arm Weakness
1. Workout to Re-balance Your Left Side with Your
Right. The key to building strength on your left side is to
start slowly. Never try to use the same weights on both sides
of your body if you have a weak left side. Instead, aim to
train your left side so that you can lift a free weight that is
50% of the weight you now lift on your right side. How
much should that be? If you are able to do a 8-rep set of 20
pound dumbbells with your right arm, try to do no more than
an 8-rep set with a 10 pound dumbbell on your left side for
the first week.
Rest a day between workouts. Then, in the second week,
increase the left hand side weight by 2 pounds. By the 5th
week, you should be able to lift the same amount on each
Never try to shorten the re-balancing period to less than 4 or
5 weeks. In fact, it may take you a lot longer to equalize the
weights on each side, depending on just how weak your left
Once your arm is completely rehabbed and strong, you can
step it up with an arm strength building routine.
2. Always Condition Your Neck. Your neck works with
your arms in most sports. Your neck has to hold the weight
of your head in an optimal position as you move through
your swing, throw or roll.
For that reason, you have to condition your neck in order to
keep your left side healthy. The first thing to do is to avoid
overworking your neck. The muscles of the neck are small
and can be easily strained.
One of the best exercises for your neck is to simply look to
the right so that your chin is lined up with your shoulder.
This forces your neck to hold your head through a normal
range of motion. Now, look to the left until your chin lines up
with your left should. Repeat for 10 times on each side.
The next exercise is to simply lower your head until your chin
touches your chest. Raise it. That’s a rep. Do 8 to 10 reps.
Rest 90 seconds. Do another set of 8 to 10. Rest. Do a final
set of 8 to 10. Rest a day or two between workouts.
Once your neck is a bit stronger, you can try lateral pull
downs. Lat pulls strengthen you back primarily but they also
strengthen your shoulders and to a lesser extent your neck.
Again, go easy with the starting weights and always increase
the weights after a week –- or two — once you get
comfortable with whatever weight you start with.
Here’s a word to the wise. Take neck conditioning slowly.
You will regret trying to strengthen your neck too quickly.
3. Regularly Massage Your Neck and Arms.
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|Steve Stricker suffered from a weak left side
after taking time off from the tour.