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Feist E. One, Boulder County Bombers
It’s often said that in roller derby, it’s not if you get injured, it’s when. Most skaters have seen an unfortunate accident on the track which resulted in a broken ankle or have visited a teammate after ACL surgery. As with any contact sport, injury prevention is extremely important to stay healthy and on skates.
According to Jonathan Martine, Certified Advanced Rolfer®, Registered Movement Therapist and Faculty Member of the Rolf Institute in Boulder, CO, there are some things you can do to help prevent an injury. “Avoiding injury and staying healthy is a multi-faceted process,” said Martine. Here are some tips to help skaters ward off trauma during derby.
Strength and resistance training are not only important to increase your skating ability, but also to help prevent injury. “Avoiding injury includes proper resistance training using good form and alignment,” said Martine.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that strength training is important to increase flexibility and balance and increase bone density. The proper strength training can help improve additional fitness areas that will enhance your skating skills.
stretching and flexibility
Although strength training aids in flexibility, it’s still important to have a stretching routine before and after practices. “Stability and flexibility are key components to avoiding injury in any sport, especially a contact sport like roller derby,” Martine said. “With alignment and joint stability, the body is better balanced and prepared to meet the challenges an athlete may encounter.”
You may want to complement your stretches at practice with additional stretching routines.
“Yoga and Pilates are great for stability and flexibility,” said Martine. Many of these classes are taught at local fitness centers with certified instructors, so skaters can be sure they are learning proper techniques.
Many leagues have introduced cross training into their roller derby practices. From CrossFit to HIIT, these strength-building workouts not only help roller derby athletes gain muscle, but also endurance.
Pikes Peak Derby Dames, who participated in the 2015 Division 1 playoffs, encourage cross training with all their skaters.“The majority of skaters train beyond the track and have taken crossfit, boxing, yoga, running, Pilates, ballet, and other athletic avenues,” said Alde Pantzue, captain of the PPDD All Stars. The PPDD skaters have accountability logs to encourage each other to participate in athletic activities off the track to improve their skating and avoid injuries.
Having the right gear is extremely important in roller derby. Sometimes skaters may want to buy the cheapest equipment, especially if there’s a lot of derby travel coming up, but it’s best to protect your body. Talk with other skaters and see what their favorite pads and helmets are.
If there’s a local skate shop near you, the owner will be knowledgeable about the gear that has the best protection. Although every piece of your protective equipment is important, your most-used pads – knee pads and wrist guards – need to be ready to hold up to the falls that you will take.
Pikes Peak Derby Dames take protection seriously. They have purchased new helmets for better protection, and their training committee is planning skate maintenance sessions to highlight caring for equipment so skaters understand the importance of correct, working equipment, said Alde Pantzue.
maintaining muscle balance
Another important factor to remaining injury-free is to maintain your muscle balance. Although skaters may think of getting a massage or going to the chiropractor as a way to pamper their sore bodies, these treatments help their bodies to stay aligned to better perform. “It may also involve getting a ‘tune-up’ to reduce the compensation following a fall or impact before it leads to an ineffective movement strategy and injury,” Martine said. Martine, a Certified Advanced Rolfer, said Rolfing aims to realign the body by manipulating the wrappings around the muscle. He said a combination of massage or Rolfing, chiropractic, acupuncture, and nutrition are important to help your body to recover and prevent injuries.
An important point to remember before starting any of these routines is to receive instruction from a professional. Proper technique and adequate exercises are important so that skaters are not injured by incorrect form or overuse.
Every skater is at risk for injury. But by taking care of your body, you can hopefully remain injury-free or not suffer as devastating an injury, prolonging your derby career.