We all know, that roller derby is a fast paced, full contact sport, where injuries are inevitable. But, there are a few tips that you should follow to make sure that your risk of injury is reduced:
1.) Wearing correct protective gear: always make sure that your elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads are securely fitting. You want them to be tight enough that they won't fall or slide off when you are skating. I usually tighten my pads after warming up, because as I start to get sweaty, they start to slip and slide. It is also a good idea to check your pads regularly for wear n' tear. It is also important to wear a proper fitting mouth guard and helmet. I often see women skating around with their helmet pushed up- it is important to keep your helmet pulled down, so that it is right above your eyebrows. If you fall face first, you will be glad that your helmet hits the ground first instead of your nose.
2.) Remember to get enough rest: this doesn't just mean get a good night's sleep- this means to rest your muscles, too. You know how your muscles get sore after practice? It is because you have trained hard enough for your muscles to tear slightly, and your body needs time to repair them, resulting in stronger and bigger muscles. Having a fatigued body will make training dangerous- Fatigue makes you sloppy and being sloppy will get you injured. If you do decide to work out between practices, try to work only on those muscles not used during competition; the only concession being the core muscles, which can always use a good conditioning.
3.) Know your body: it is important to know your body and your limits. It is better to sit out a practice or two if your knees are sore than to keep falling on them. It is crucial to know when your body needs a break- don't push yourself so hard that you get an injury or make an injury worse. You have to take care of yourself outside of roller derby, too. Ice your joints after every practice. Taking a couple ibuprofen will help with inflammation. Take a hot bath with Epsom salt. Eat healthy. Stay hydrated. Take a multivitamin. Nutrition is key- eat as many whole foods as possible and skip that processed crap.
4.) Warming up and Cooling down: always allow for warm up time before practice and cool down time after practice. "Experts agree that the main purpose of warm-up is to increase the blood circulation in order to raise both the general body and the deep muscle temperatures, which in turn help to heat up the muscles, ligaments and tendons in preparation for more vigorous activity. A proper warm-up provide many benefits due to elevated temperatures associated with it. The likelihood of injury is reduced. Athletic performance can be improved. The warm-up increases muscle efficiency, reduces potential for muscle pulls, improves reaction time and improves the speed of movement of muscled and ligaments. Proper warm-up can also help reduce the severity of post-exercise muscle soreness. The higher temperatures and increased blood flow resulting from warm-up are important for delivery of oxygen to the muscles and for prevention of build-up of unwanted waste products which can lead to muscle soreness." (http://www.entraineurdefoot.com/Tousienglish.html). Cooling down after practice includes stretching! Stretching after practice is a critical part of practice because it not only improves flexibility and prevents injury, but increased flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and upper back may improve respiratory function.
Jess the Ripper