There is no doubt that roller derby has a high injury rate, maybe one of the highest. It is a tough sport!
It is no fun sitting out during a bout or even worse a whole season, simply because an issue or injury has come up especially one that could have been avoided in the first place.
High injury rates are to be expected in all competitive atmospheres where there is something at stake. That’s the nature of the athlete in all sports.
The good news is there are some preventative measures that can be taken to cut down on this as much as possible.
Being an athlete myself I can understand that all of the accessory and off skates training can be a real pain in the ass, literally!
You want to get out on the track and skate! Dedicating a fraction of time off skates to these 3 keyscan help keep you skating longer and with less pain!
1.) Dynamic Warm up
A dynamic warm up should always be mandatory before a bout, practice or even training.
What this does is prepare your muscles for the range of motion they will be used in, and at the same time increase blood flow to those areas, so your muscles can move more freely.
This is also going to be a preventative measure in making sure those painful joints don’t flare up. Warming up before a match is going to release synovial fluid into the joint capsule, providing more lubricant for the joint itself.
When doing specifically dynamic warm-ups, you begin to work on the elasticity component of your muscles. You muscles are like rubber bands that hold kinetic energy.
Think of this scenario: you have two rubber bands. You put one in the freezer, and the other you heat up. Which is going to be more likely to tear? The frozen one! You don’t want this happening to your muscle, right?
Fully utilizing the elastic component to your muscles not only prevents injury but also gives you a chance to perform at your best.
Dynamic warm ups can be done stationary or moving. Here is an example of a moving dynamic warm up:
20 yards of each:
Straight leg kicks
2.) Foam Rolling
This is one area that you may not yet have experienced but can make a HUGE difference in your roller derby career.
Soft tissue or myofascial release can, like dynamic stretches, give you muscles the ability to reach the full range of motion that is required during a bout.
The difference between dynamic stretching and myofascial release is that unlike dynamic stretching soft tissue work allows you to break up the cohesions and knotted up tissue in the muscle that no other kind of stretching can do.
We’ve all gotten massages and felt the “knots” that our massage therapist talks about. This is tissue knotted up that can be not only holding you up from the optimal range of motion, but also causing the nagging joint pain.
Once you release the tension in the tight muscles what happens is you begin to feed slack to the rest of the system. That tension your muscles are holding could be directly or indirectly pulling on a joint, causing your movement patterns to become screwed up, causing joint pain.
This key is especially useful for roller derby girls. Going one direction for 60% can leave your body with serious imbalances.
You must correct these imbalances if you want to have not only optimal performance but pain free performance as well.
Here is a simple foam-rolling program to start off with:
3.) Unilateral strength training
Unilateral training is training one side individually and separate from the whole.
If you’ve listened to me before or read any of my articles I am a huge supporter of squats, and I think everyone should learn how to do them properly. The king of all exercises, I have called them.
However when I train athletes of any kind I have to make sure that they are 1. Performing optimally and 2. Doing so without injuring themselves.
That being said, I still do think squats are the best exercise of all time. However I think that in a sport with such epic imbalances unilateral training should be priority.
This will help make sure that one side is not doing all of the work, which is common in a person with imbalances.
The picture below shows my squat with a slight pelvic tilt. Notice I sit a little to the right in the picture to the right. In the left I am more centered.
Allowing this pelvic tilt to become more prominent can and will lead to injury, specifically in the lower back. Your pelvis bone connects directly to the muscles of your lower back, the spinal erectors.
When each side is provided its own stimulus and overload it is able to grow and adapt, and hopefully become even with its counterpart.
This is going to be especially essential during lower body exercises. For upper body exercises this will not be too terribly important.
Here is an example of a simple lower body workout using unilateral exercises only. Remember, this workout doesn’t have to be exclusively unilateral but putting priority to these exercises would be most beneficial.
Lower Body Unilateral Workout:
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Single Leg Dead Lifts
One Leg Pistol Squats
Keeping your body in proper balance takes no time at all. The time you sacrifice doing these drills and exercises will be repaid in your ability to stay skating when the rest are fighting the nagging injuries.
I challenge you to spend 10 minutes a day working on these 3 points. You can hit one area of focus a day, one day dynamic stretches, one day foam rolling, and one day unilateral lower body training.