Exclusive: The treatment that saved Dani Pedrosa's career

After years of struggling with injuries of various kinds, Dani Pedrosa was a changed rider at the end of 2015. Oriol Puigdemont visited his Barcelona clincic to find out how the transformation occurred.

Standing at just 1.58m (5'2'') and weighing just 55 kilos (121lb), 30-year-old Pedrosa is the smallest rider in MotoGP.

This anatomy, which played in his favour in the lower categories, became one of the biggest handicaps when he moved up to the category with the heaviest bikes.

This year marks a decade since his debut in the premier class, always bearing the Repsol Honda colours, but there hasn't been a single season without injuries, pain, or both.

However, Pedrosa is confident that, this time, he has found the answer that allows him to start the year stronger than ever, after having managed to increase the volume and intensity of his physical training.

Arm pump woes

A little under a year ago, the Spaniard hit rock bottom when he was forced to get off the bike. He missed three grands prix (Austin, Argentina and Jerez) because of the pain in his forearm, caused by the arm pump he was suffering from.

After a third operation in which the fascias that surround the muscles of the arm were removed, the Spaniard returned to racing at Le Mans. Since then, he's been a different rider.

The surgery went well, but what went even better was the rehabilitation therapy that he discovered a but later in a physical therapy centre in the Gracia neighbourhood in Barcelona. 

Pedrosa visits the Salo Darder Institute before and after the races, and he undergoes a treatment provided by a machine named PHYSIUM System.

Jordi Saló, its inventor, explained to Motorsport.com how the machine works: "It's all about mobilizing the scar and the post-surgery adhesions in a controlled way, to achieve greater flexibility and this way progressively improve the fascial pressure over the neurovascular and muscular systems, reducing the patient's pain and inflammation."

Before discovering the centre and the technology behind the machines, Pedrosa was in a blind alley.

The muscles in his arms were hypertrophied and, besides that, his tendency to develop fibrosis - tight scars - was trapping the nerves of the area, especially in situations with a lot of stress and physical exhaustion.

All that translated into a loss of sensitivity that got worse as the laps went by, until it became nearly unbearable at the end of the race.

A new rider

There were a lot of people who noticed that something had changed in Pedrosa's mind during the final part of last season.

He was more aggressive than ever at Aragon, where he fought side-by-side with Valentino Rossi and won the battle against the Italian, and won in two of the last four grands prix (Japan and Malaysia). 

At Valencia, the final race of the season, he gained two seconds in six laps to leader Jorge Lorenzo, in a spectacular end to the race that was unthinkable just six months earlier because of his arms.

"In two sessions I realised that it worked," Pedrosa told Motorsport.com earlier this week.

"There is a clear improvement because I had a physical handicap, and that was creating another, mental, one. I started the races compromised. And when you are free, you feel it.

"Not only you can react better while on the bike, but you also know that you are going to do it," he added.

"It seems strange, but the body has a memory. If an area has been in pain for a long time, your body appears to be resigned to accept that it's healed, so you have to teach it.

"That is done in a progressive and gradual way," says the rider from Castellar del Valles near Barcelona, who before finding this treatment "could hardly sleep because of the pain".

Aside from the problems that his bike can cause him at the moment, the Catalan looks happy and oozing confidence, and the rehabilitation of his arm has contributed greatly to that.

In fact, he's so excited with his new protocol that he even volunteered to make it known through a video in which he explains the experience.

Watch Pedrosa explain his treatment:

 

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Dani Pedrosa
Teams Repsol Honda Team
Article type Analysis