Published on March 20th, 2013 | by La Dolce Beater0
La Dolce Beater by Idene Roozbayani
Accident and Injury Helpline, Part II
Aka no win, no fee, no skating for weeks
Last time we looked at accident prevention. Now it’s the turn of our old foe: the injury!
Part Two: Injury, it’s happening to me, right in front of my face and I just cannot hide it.
Injuries can come out of accidents, but they can also just happen. We put a lot of strain on certain parts of our bodies. Most of us are all lop-sided from skating in one direction. Most of us will have a stronger side and will lead with one leg more than the other. All these things (plus the fact that we play a fast, contact sport on skates) can lead to injury of some kind. Again, talk to your teammates and a lot of them will tell you about a dodgy knee or ankle or hamstring or worse. Let’s be honest about it – the more open we are the more aware we become and the more supported we feel: your teammates are still skating, after all!
There are certain things we can do to prevent injuries, however. Mostly it’s about STRENGTHENING and STRETCHING your muscles and tendons, and LISTENING TO YOUR BODY! The stronger, more flexible and agile we are, the more likely we are react quickly, keep our ligaments in place, and minimise the risk of injury and/or aid our recovery (plus we will be better derby players!). Here is a start to thinking about injury prevention, but talk to your coaches or trainers and other skaters to see what they do.
Make sure your muscles, tendons and heart are ready by warming up before training or a bout. A warm up will increase your body temperature, heart rate and the blood flow to your muscles. Think of it as waking up gradually and naturally to one of those sunrise alarm clocks rather than the rude jolt of a twin-bell alarm. All it takes is 10-15 minutes of gentle exercise gradually building to get the heart pumping and a light sweat on. This should then be followed by gentle stretching, especially our derby parts (ankles, calves, hamstrings, quads, groin, core, shoulders, neck). Be sure not to cool down after your warm up. Get straight to it!
Cooling down after training or a bout is just as important as the warm up and follows similar lines. Reduce the pace to a gentle exercise and then stretch. But the stretches should be held for 20-30 seconds. A longer stretch will lengthen the muscles and help reduce the DOM D-D-D DOMS! One of my coaches once said that life is a cool down! So don’t just go home and lay on the sofa. Keep moving.
There are a lot of ankle/knee/core strengthening and stretching exercises out there. You may already have a good routine in place. Here are a three each of my favourites, do 10 reps of each (I’ve only focussed on the ankles, knees and core here, but make sure you work on strengthening your whole body):
1. Rotation clockwise and anti-clockwise, slow and steady
2. Spell out the alphabet in the air with a pointed foot
3. Raise up on your tippy toes, hold and slowly lower (do this on both feet and then on one at a time)
The knee is supported by the muscles around it: a tight calf muscle or hamstring may affect your knee cap and joint. So support your knee by strengthening what supports it.
1. Knee dips: stand on one leg, squat, return to standing.
2. Leg raises: sitting on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, toes to the ceiling, raise one leg at a time up off the floor and hold for 5-10 seconds, slowly lower to the floor.
3. Cross one leg in front of the other, lean down and travel down the front leg as far as you can, hold and return.
Can’t big up core strength enough! A stronger core means more control over your body. Improve your core strength and watch your skating improve too.
1. Plank (low, raised, or side planks): roller derby’s favourite!
2. Superman: lay on your front, arms stretched out forwards, slowly lift up your legs and your arms up and return.
3. Russian Twist: sit on the floor, knees bent and feet on the floor, keep your back at a 45 degree angle to the floor and twist from one side to another like you are paddling a canoe. Make this harder by lifting your feet off the ground or by using a weight.
Do them all the time! Your body needs to be as strong and flexible as possible and you can help that by stretching at every opportunity. Being more flexible will improve your movement, agility, reaction time and balance. Stretches will also improve the movement around your muscles and tendons. Take a class, get a DVD, get ideas from your teammates, follow a physio plan – do whatever you need to to limber up. So, waiting for the bus playing Candy Crush Saga? Stretch!
Try to do everything in the other direction. Maybe when you have a free skate, do it anti-derby – try your 25 in 5 in the opposite direction! Try to master doing things the other way too: transitions and stops in both directions, controlled knee falls using the knee you don’t usually, anything and everything both ways. Not only will this help your general skating abilities, but it will also strengthen up your other/weaker side.
Are you in derby stance? Do you bend and drag your ankle when you T-Stop? Take stock of your technique. Get your teammates to watch you, or film you. Posture, flexibility, coordination can improve your performance and reduce the risks of injury. How can you improve your technique (this is a question you should always be asking)?
Is all your kit in order? Does it fit properly? Do you have confidence in your knee pads? Are your skates in good repair and well maintained? CHECK!
We’ve all seen someone’s toe stop come off mid-jam and watched as they repeatedly fell, or seen the bruises after someone’s knee pad twisted and slipped, or (maybe not so common, I hope) called an ambulance to collect a heavily concussed skater after a bang to the head in a loosely fitted helmet. Gulp!
So invest in good knee pads, tighten up your helmet, check the nuts and bolts on your skates. If you feel confident in your kit, you will skate confident.
Does a headache count as an injury? It will for the sake of this article! Stay hydrated – drink regularly, not just when you are thirsty. Water does the job, but sports drinks or coconut water will also help put back the things you lose through sweat. Similarly, eat well. If your body isn’t properly fuelled then it will not work to its full potential. Poor nutrition will slow any recovery, too.
Make sure you get proper medical advice for any injury that keeps raising its ugly head. You need to make sure that you are fit and well and rehabilitated before you can expect to get back to the level you were at before an injury. Be sure to follow the advice given to you by your doctor or physio. If something is reoccurring then you should seek advice and get it fixed. Be patient! Working on an old, unhealed injury may just make it worse.
What to do when injured?
RICE: REST it, ICE it, COMPRESS it, ELEVATE it! Be careful with the icing though, do not apply direct to the skin and risk frostbite, and only ice for 10 minutes at a time (every two hours).
Seek medical help straight away if the pain tells you to! If you are not sure about the injury then get it checked out. If an injury doesn’t feel like it’s getting better after 48hours then go to the doctors or hospital – it’s best to be safe and certain. Listen to your body and be patient.
When are you ready to return?
When you have been signed off by your doctor or physio, when the pain has stopped, when you are fully mobile, when your fitness and strength is back to a suitable level, when there is no recurrence of injury, when you feel confident to return: that is when you are ready!
The key to injury prevention is STRENGTHEN, STRETCH, BE MINDFUL, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and BE PATIENT.
May you never be injured!
This article was brought to you by La Dolce Beater of Newcastle Roller Girls (who is sheepishly retreating to practice what she preaches!)