Working In Motorsport- Cars Vs Bikes.
Updated: Apr 17
Working in Motorsport is an exciting industry to be involved in where racing and winning is the shared goal for many people and teams with multiple billions of pounds spent each year across the industry.
When working with a Motorsport athlete, you'll find that they work in a very unique way. From the outside, racing a Motor vehicle may look as though it's an individual sport, but most of the sports have a team factor to them, which means the impact a sports therapist may have on the performance of a driver/ rider may not be as great as the impact a runner or cyclist could experience. Mainly because factors such as engine power, mechanical reliability and vehicle handling are all out of our control. If you believe in the benefits of marginal gains though, you will find the opportunities to help improve the overall performance.
I have had the opportunity to work within motocross and in British Touring Car racing, both of which are completely different in every way.
By working in Motocross, I have been exposed to the biggest injuries I have ever worked with and don't often work with anything less than a bone fracture or joint dislocation, whereas in British Touring Cars, I am generally working in more of a performance capacity as big injuries are less common.
Working in motocross is very unpredictable and programming an athlete's training cycle presents a challenge in its own right, as it is highly likely an injury will disrupt the program at some point during a season. I often find myself talking about damage limitation when explaining a riders program to them. Whereas programming and planning for a racing driver is much less disruptive throughout the season, and although crashes are still commonplace in the British Touring Car Championship, the severity of injuries are often lower because the safety is better (on the whole), with the driver being enclosed within a very high strength structural rollover cage.
The key things I look for in a Motocross athlete are strong joints. In particular strong ankles, knees, shoulders, and wrists as these are the most commonly injured areas. When you consider forces in motocross are often greater than 5 x body mass, it makes total sense to prepare for every scenario, and this often means training the supportive muscles that surround key joints such as the Rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. Ultimately, you want the athlete you're working with to be training and preparing to crash, as odd as that may seem. In contrast to this, touring car athletes are exposed to significantly higher g-forces when driving through high-speed corners, but very supportive custom-molded seats, and five point harnesses are used to stabilise their torso and hips which helps out massively with this issue. Ultimately, the work you'd do with a driving athlete needs to be specific, but wouldn't need to be excessive to achieve greater torso stability; and this is just one of the many areas you can help with.
Other issues that are common in racing drivers include back pain due to hip imbalances. This is often the case with drivers that don't do any resistance training outside of the car, and the imbalances are usually due to the simple fact that the brakes in a car require more force than the accelerator. So naturally, strength imbalances can and do occur between limbs if they are not monitored carefully.
For more information on Driving and Riding athletic performance, contact ZEN Anatomy via our website www.zenanatomy.co.uk