From a Physio perspective, we didn’t see anywhere near the levels of attrition normally encountered. By the end of practice week the competitors had so few laps completed that many were struggling to qualify. As such, the organisers changed the schedule so that the first race day became further practice and the first races were held on Mad Sunday, the traditional day off for the team.
Yet again arm pump topped the leaderboard for most popular taping application. This system is one that I have developed and refined over the years as the TT course is unique in its ability to provoke this debilitating problem. The 37 ¾ mile lap, on public (closed) roads allows no time to relax the grip and the compartment pressure that builds up in the forearm over the course of 4-6 laps can make it hard to hold on to the bike, with the hands beginning to claw; clearly a very bad thing when travelling at 180mph between stone walls. The constant grip results in a lack of muscle pump action and very poor venous return. As the muscle requires more and more oxygenated blood to fuel its contraction the volume of blood increases within the compartment. The spiral of more blood going in and less coming out, with fascial restriction, creates the symptoms that riders and sidecar passengers dread.
The web-like taping that we use has been proven time and time again to be effective in preventing or moderating arm pump, allowing the competitors to handle their bikes how they need to and, most importantly, not be distracted by arm pain. The team did a total of 136 arm pump tapings, which included mostly bilateral taping.
The second most common taping application was for neck pain, mainly as a result of the sustained position on the bike and having to brace the neck against strong winds over the mountain section of the course. Viewing the onboard footage clearly showed how the riders have to fight against not only the wind but also the bumps in the road as the head is continually nodding and occasionally hitting the chin of the helmet on the fuel tank. Some of the riders complaining of neck pain this year were riders who had crashed and had returned to racing. We use a variety of strategies to tape the neck and frequently apply it with the rider in ‘race position’. The amount of tension on the tape is varied, dependent on the amount of support that the rider requires.
Another seemingly TT specific issue, that keeps popping up, is biceps insertional pain; caused by a bike’s handlebars being jerked around violently – often known as a ‘tank slapper’. We trialled different ways of taping this last year and have settled on a standardised one that worked well enough to allow a rider to make it on to the podium, having come in to the tent not being able to move his elbows. He was pain free the next time he was on the track and remained pain free with prophylactic taping for the rest of the TT period.
Sidecar passengers, over the course of 2 weeks, suffer extensive bruising from being thrown around in the tray that has no padding or suspension. We use SportTape extensively in a grid pattern to reduce swelling and bruising to great effect. There are normally a few bizarre issues that present us with unique challenges. This year was no different, with one particular case requiring some lateral thinking and innovative taping. Despite the small area involved – a nail bed infection – the amount of tape seemed disproportionate. However, it was critical that not only was the tape doing a job, but nothing moved within the glove as this would have caused a distraction at best or a restriction at worst.
Every year we see more and more competitors who become aware of the efficacy of taping. Some of these competitors have been extremely cynical in the past and scoffed at those who wore tape. In their desperation this year, they overcame their pride and sought solutions. It is a real pleasure to see these riders coming back to the tent positively raving about how much better they felt and that they had “seen the light”. Two of these converts went on to have podium places, which pleased everyone concerned.
The Scott Physiotherapy team are already looking forward to and planning for TT 2018 with the continued support of the SPORTTAPE team.