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Injury prevention tips with the DC Rollergirls

I had the opportunity to attend the open house for the DC Rollergirls’ upcoming 2017-2018 roller derby season after I felt a sense that I was lacking being part of a team since moving to the city. In the past, I’ve been a part of cross country, soccer, basketball, dance, among other teams but thought I would try something new. After mentioning my interest in attending the open house for the Rollergirls, I realized that Rose Physical Therapy had been in contact with the Rollergirls in the past after interviewing a team member for women’s history month (click the arrow symbol on the header photo to see that video, or click HERE).

On the way, I was thinking that there is no way this was the right place. Surrounded by warehouses, I was hoping I was walking into the right one. I realized it was the right place when I saw a bunch of people with roller skates and wild outfits. The open house included a discussion about logistics of joining the team, necessary equipment, and skills needed to succeed at the sport of roller derby. After the discussion, the rest of the open house was watching a scrimmage within the team while various players floated around to answer all of our derby-related questions.

As I was watching the DC Rollergirls do their thing, I couldn’t help but notice the sense of inclusivity among the members of the team, and projecting to the potential members of the team. As we went through and introduced ourselves as newbies, I noticed everyone had very different backgrounds and experiences with skating and sports while some didn’t participate in sports at all. One of the rollergirls assured us that it didn’t matter if we were non-athletic or hadn’t skated before; the team will teach us everything we need to know. Everyone was invited and everyone was included to attend the practice on Sunday – sometimes I feel like this sense of inclusivity is rare to come by these days.

As I watched the dynamics of the human body as skaters and fielded questions asked regarding potential injuries, I devised a few general recommendations for rollerderby athletes:

  1. Warm-ups are essential for every sport. Starting practice without warming up your muscles with dynamic activities is a recipe for potential injury. Always start with a cardiovascular warm-up such as jogging, biking, calisthenics, or dynamic ballistic stretching. Avoid your muscles tightening up on you while playing to avoid any unnecessary muscle strain.
  2. Make sure you are maintaining use of muscles on both sides of your body. In roller derby, skaters tend to skate in one direction. Switch it up every once in a while, and go the other direction, or at least make sure to keep that opposite side strong, too.
  3. Move in the opposite direction for your back. In roller derby and during a lot of sports, you must get low. Getting low sometimes means bending forward at the waist. Exercises like foam rolling for your mid back and performing press-ups on your stomach can help combat this forward bending posture that most of us are guilty of not only during sports but during the day while sitting at work. [insert imagine of prone press-ups here]
  4. Add in cross training to your regular workout routine – or if you don’t have a regular workout routine, start one. It is important to train other muscle groups to avoid unnecessary strain on one set of muscles with associated weakness in the others.

foam rolling thoracic spine

Photo: foam rolling your thoracic spine: 1-Place foam roller in the middle of your back, just beneath your shoulder blades. 2-Place hands behind head. 3-Move up and down on the foam roller. 4-Most important step: feel awesome.