Arm pump (or compartment syndrome, to give it its medical name) is an incredibly vexing condition that has troubled many top level motorcycle racers over the years. The latest victim of this problem is Casey Stoner: the Marlboro Ducati rider started to suffer with the issue at Silverstone, and with just six days between the British Grand Prix and the Dutch TT at Assen, Stoner had no time to recover.
With a little longer between Assen and Barcelona, Stoner has had time to work on the problem and recover. The Australian has taken two approaches to solving the problem: changing his position on the bike and a physical therapy to deal with the symptoms: "I've actually done some acupuncture to it, to see if that can release the pressure," Stoner told journalists after practice on Friday. "There's just one muscle that runs up the arm, I can feel it, that's the hard point, that's the tightness, it's so stiff, and it just doesn't want to relax."
While Stoner is using acupuncture as a curative, the Australian is also trying to prevent the problem recurring in the first place. "We completely changed the handlebar position and brake levers and things like that," Stoner said. The changes are aimed at helping Stoner control the bike more easily, for the physical effort required for the Australian to keep the bucking Ducati Desmosedici under control is part of what is causing the arm pump. "I wanted to put the handlebars a little bit wider, take a little bit of pressure off the arms in some ways." The change had also pushed Stoner's body further forward, in another attempt to take some of the strain off of his arms.
The first changes made turned out to be a little too radical, and the team had to take a step back from where they were. "The first change didn't feel like it made so much difference, so we came back to a position about halfway between this and what I normally run, and this felt comfortable. We also changed the brake levers back to somewhere near what I normally have, somewhere in the middle of both."
Stoner is confident that the changes will solve the problem, and allow him to race as he wishes. "This is what I ended up with, and for me, the arms felt perfect. The first 15-20 minutes, I felt, not arm pump, but that there was something there, and then at the end of the session I felt nothing. Hopefully with the position, either we found something or the bike was working that much easier, it was that much easier to ride and I didn't have to use that much effort," Stoner told the assembled media. "Hopefully, we've done everything correctly and it should work out."