Wheelchair Racing: Different Strokes for Different Folks
WebMD News Archive
Morse found that when racers used the new technique along with
a preracing conditioning program, the number of injuries they sustained were
"The main difference is the point of contact with the
wheel," Chow tells WebMD.
"It's not that hard to learn," Chow says. "The
problem is whenever you learn a new technique you sacrifice your performance at
the very beginning."
"PBT may be more suitable for endurance athletes who use
less power in their pushing strokes," Chow says. "That's our
recommendation, [but] we didn't have enough data to address whether PBT is
better in terms of minimizing injuries."
The two techniques are suitable for different types of
athletes, often depending on their physical characteristics, he says. To arrive
at their findings, Chow and colleagues compared eight elite athletes who used
the CVT stroke with seven who used the PBT.
That's not to say that racers have readily adapted to the new
technique, which requires a closed hand.
"A lot of people can't push that way so they turn back to
the conventional technique," says Morse.
The PBT stroke is hard to pick up, he says. "It can take
anywhere from two days to six years to get right."
What does a wheelchair racer need to get started?
"You need a feel for making contact with the hand ring of
the wheel, a comfortable pair of gloves, and to be comfortable in the chair
itself," says Morse.
Training can be intense, he says. "If you are getting ready
for a marathon, you have to do 120 to 200-plus miles a week," Morse
In wheelchair racing, "the Boston Marathon is the biggest
race. Once you have won it, it's just an incredible rite of passage," Morse
says, likening it to what Daytona is for NASCAR drivers.
Morse trained eight-time Boston Marathon winner Jean Driscoll,
who has used both methods in her career.
"I used the thumb technique from 1987 through November
1991, and then in December of 1991, I started to experiment with the PBT,"
she tells WebMD. "It took me about two weeks going nine miles an hour to
figure it out, but once I picked it up, I broke the world record by six