British cycling couldn’t be in a better place right now, with success coming from all over different areas in the midst of Chris Froome powering through the final stages to win the Tour De France and the Atherton family taking the mountain bike world by storm. Here at SPORTTAPE we like to keep up to date with everyone who uses the tape and we recently spoke to Paul Martin who is the Sport & Remedial Soft Tissue Therapist for the Atherton Racing team and many other cyclists.
His company RESTORE was founded in 2005 and is now a busy and rapidly growing practice based in Shrewsbury. RESTORE aims to provide clinical and onsite services to all communities in the Shropshire area as well as specialist to support to numerous world champion athletes and high performers.Cycling Questions and Answers
With cycling being in the forefront of all news stories at the moment we decided to ask Paul a few questions about the behind the scenes work of a Sports Massage Therapist within a professional cycling environment.
With the speed of mountain biking being so intense is there a large amount of conditioning away from the track?
There is a huge amount and RESTORE is on hand for the downhill riders at least twice a week during the training season. This is where the bulk of our work is done. Many of the riders, aside from weekly maintenance where possible between races, don’t tend to like work done on race day or even practice. RESTORE’s role is to provide soft tissue support and recovery to help them get through intense training programmes and help piece them together between races, which are where SPORTTAPE comes in handy.
Are there common injuries in downhill mountain biking?
Shoulders and ankles feature highly! Just about anything can be affected by falling off a forest single track at 30mph! A lot of ankle stiffness and deep posterior compartment overuse from being on the pedals. We also tend to help address a lot of twisted pelvis, short psoas/quadratus lumborum and predictably congested and often inflamed lumbar facets. Neck release techniques are very popular with a combination of NMT and gentle traction proving very popular. Deep release work tends to be in the hands and forearms which is essential.
Do you feel SPORTTAPE has an impact on cyclist’s recovery? Where have you seen the greatest success?
It seems to be the case that the SPORTTAPEcertainly does the trick- though I maintain a healthy level of open scepticism and treat it only as another tool in the bag. SPORTTAPE has certainly proved itself very useful for pain relief in elbow impingement’s and ankle/foot pain in the downhill riders and hopefully contributed to the overall improvement and resolution of the problem. Perhaps most dramatic of all was the effect on this year’s Welsh 2 Day Motorbike Enduro Riders with the anti arm pump application that simply amazed riders in its ability to stave off the pump and lessen the duration of cramps. Of course with any situation of trauma, lymphatic drainage techniques are always popular, even if the effect is simply the athlete feeling that they’re doing everything they can plus a little more to help speed recovery. It’s definitely not miracle tape, but sometimes it comes very close!
I can imagine that there are a lot of occasions where you treat arm injuries, have you used any taping techniques to help athletes recover?
An elbow impingement combination application that I perceived and modified worked a treat. Taping for forearm pump also has proven very effective. However, more common that forearm or elbow issues is definitely trauma to the shoulders where SPORTTAPE can provide an invaluable support. This being such a complex area of movement, every application can be a little different. It’s the freedom of these taping techniques that allow you to experiment and work with what’s in front of you, rather than from the textbooks, that means each application can be very much individualised and ‘the best application’ for athlete on that day. Muscle testing and re-assessment throughout the duration of the session and the taping process is a must. Occasionally what appears to be the best option is rejected by the body and modification is necessary until everything tests strong and stable with free ROM where necessary.
ITB issues are common in cyclists, do you have any preventative measures to reduce injury rate?
I would ask an athlete to talk to their coach about Romanian dead-lifts and to work with their coach or PT specifically to develop correct and safe technique. I would also recommend all the usual self treatment measures and soft tissue work for glutes, TFL and pelvic stability. My direct treatment of the ITB has lessened over the years due to far more success from treating the source issues and a realisation that you simply can’t stretch or release the ITB. Hopefully from reading these question and answers from Paul you will have a better understanding of the demands professional bike riders have upon their bodies and what is needed to help them get back on the track racing. Enough of the reading it’s time to get out enjoy the sun and start riding!
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