Monday, December 5, 2011

Sweating the small stuff: nagging injuries

Oh boy, you pulled your groin muscle...again!  Or, you fell and sat on your skate, or you slammed your hand down on the floor and might have broken your finger.  How did you jack your neck up in your sleep? You kicked a door frame in the middle of the night and your little toe feels like it's ten sizes bigger than normal...I could go on.

These are the nagging, annoying and performance killing injuries that can make playing derby pure drudgery.  A player who gets one of these injuries can hover in that "not quite ready to bring it" area of physical and mental prowess for weeks if she doesn't let herself heal.  See Bonnie D. Stroir's blog on injuries.
Ah, if Ballista just had worn some shin guards.

It is hard to tell derby girls to rest and recover; we have a lot going against us, like the instinct to keep going no matter what, higher than average pain tolerances, sheer stubborness, and being just a wee bit crazy to play this sport in the first place.  Add that to the fact that we LOVE to skate, and nobody likes to just sit on the sidelines, and you have a serious recipe for disaster.  If you're interested in a study done on contact athletes vs. non contact athletes and pain tolerances, click here.

How do you know when to sit down and take a break?  This is a tough question to answer, especially for yourself.  Here is where an observant coach or captain should step in and make you take a little break, at least, that would be the ideal situation. If someone else stepped in, players wouldn't feel like they were slacking, or "being wimps".  Some injuries do not seem "dramatic" enough to bench a player; I recently suffered a ridiculous pull in my right shoulder, and I kept skating because I am an idiot.  After playing a few jams at practice, I finally listened to one of my fellow skaters who told me to stop being so foolish.  To be honest here, if it hadn't been for Shebola, I probably would have kept on playing until I really hurt myself.

Some players refuse to sit down because they don't want to be judged as "lazy".  I'm going to make a suggestion that we help our teammates out by not being judgmental.  When you see someone walk out of a car with a handicap sticker on it, and they seem to be walking fine, do you judge them or do you give them the benefit of the doubt.  Do they have a heart condition or a pain condition we can't see?  If you're willing to do that for a stranger, then you have to be willing to give your teammate a break too. 

If you have one of these nagging injuries, please remember that it isn't going to get better with people slamming into you.  Communicate with your coaches and captains; let them know your situation and ask them for their feedback.  Chances are, they're going to want you to take it easy because they want you healthy and whole.  If one of your teammates asks you why you aren't playing, you can be honest with her, just don't be defensive.  We've all been there at one point in our careers; you're a human being first, and derby player second, so please remember that even though people see us a super heroes, we're flesh and blood... and sometimes, the flesh needs to sit down and get healthy.

1 comment:

  1. I just re-read this post because I always need to remember this. I sat out a scrimmage a few months ago because I wanted to be rested for an upcoming bout. And everybody asked me, "Why are you sitting out?" They made it painful for me to sit on the sidelines. And I thought, "I should not have to justify taking time to heal."

    If you see a teammate sitting out, don't give them any shit.