Monday, April 22, 2013

Falling While Standing Still

It's a normal situation, in the middle of practice, the coaches are talking about some bit of strategy and all skaters are standing there listening.....until someone falls for no reason. If nobody gets hurt, then everybody giggles and makes fun of the fallen.  "Oh, must be that invisible floor snake again."  Everyone has a good laugh and practice goes on.  Unfortunately, sometimes things don't go as planned, and someone gets seriously injured.  It happens more than you think.

Two years ago, I was just standing while talking to someone right after a bout.  The next thing I knew, I had lost my balance an landed hard on my elbow, splitting open the skin and causing me a fun filled trip to the emergency ward.  I have no idea how I lost my balance, but it happened and I just blamed my fall on being a little tired; I didn't think about it again until I started noticing that other people getting seriously hurt while standing on skates, including people skating at open skate, referees and on skate coaches.

What on earth was going on?  This year we had a brand newbie that fell while standing in her skates and she dislocated her elbow. After that incident, I posted a question on my Facebook feed and got about thirty answers of people describing their standing still injuries.  They ranged from breaking ankles, to bruising tailbones, and messing up elbows.

Why do people fall unexpectedly while standing still?   When we stand in shoes, we are constantly moving, so if you took a long exposure film of us, we would look like we were swaying a little bit. Because we have our feet anchored on the floor securely, our bodies make micro adjustments, and we rarely fall down.  Unfortunately, balancing on skates is a different animal.  Our center of gravity is higher and if we have been doing heavy skating, we get tired Sometimes we lock out our knees and make recovery that much more difficult; usually we are concentrating on something else, like talking or discussing strategy when it happens, so relaxing the core muscles and going stiff legged is a perfect storm for falling down.
Remember the creepy swaying from Paranormal Activity?  Image found here.

So how can we stop it?  For veteran skaters, you should always be aware of you stance, keep knees from locking out and place your feet in a position that will keep them from rolling.  A few people I know who have tackled this problem keep their feet in pointed towards each other in a very mild plow stop, but how can you keep newbies from falling?  Plow stop foot position may not be easy for them to do, so I suggest you tell them to drop a a toe stop while standing in skates.  In other words, put a toe stop down on the floor to keep them from rolling and losing their balance.  It might be the one small action that keeps someone from missing months of derby. 

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