Monday, September 9, 2013

Should You Invest in More Protective Gear?

The more I play, watch and read about derby, the more I think we as skaters might want to consider getting more than the minimum protective gear.  Everyone has to wear mouth guards, helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads.  Those are a given, but what else do you think the evolution of our sport demands?

First of all, I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads my blog on any kind of regular basis knows that I am a gigantic fan of shin guards.  I'm not sure if there is a more painful "minor" injury in our sport than getting kicked in the shins by another skater.  If you haven't been kicked in the shins in derby, you are lucky, and also, GET READY, it's coming.  Close packs and sprints to catch the jammer cause all sorts of kickbacks from skaters.  I've been wearing shin guards since my rookie year, after getting nailed by a vet when I was jamming, and I haven't regretted it since.  My shins are about the only part of my body that hasn't been permanently scarred by derby.  I know, you might get a few "You must suck at skating to have to wear those" looks from people, but who cares?  You're the one who has to live in your body for the rest of your life.  In fact, that's going to be an ongoing refrain for every bit of protective gear in this blog post.  You're not a wimp if you want to protect your body.

The second suggestion I have, and I can't believe this is considered to be "extra" protective gear by most people, but to get yourself a good pair of knee gaskets.  Some women on my team skate without them, and by "some" read "young".  The older I get, the more I notice my knees, and that was happening before derby; gaskets are a good idea no matter how old or young you are.  They also help keep the derby funk from infecting your knee pads. Knee pads are a pain to replace, and washing them can be awkward.  Gaskets help keep your sweat off of the knee pads, along with keeping your knee supported and even more padded.  Let's face it, knee pads slip all of the time; even the fancy custom ones can, so having a gasket to help keep your knees from being smashed on the floor is a good idea.

When I asked my protective gear question on Facebook, the number 2 suggestion was "protective padded shorts."  I'm not surprised; derby has changed.  What used to be a "rookie" injury has now become common place due to backward blocking, running backwards, and direction of game play being the norm.  When I was rehabbing my back injury, I sported a pair of these shorts.  They're comfortable, and they will protect your tailbone from most impact, but they are hot and the padding that protects your hip area doesn't go low enough, but they are a light weight option.  If you're really serious about butt, hip and tailbone protection, get you some Hillbilly Impact shorts, gurrrrrl.

Finally, I'm going to mention hockey helmets again.  The more derby goes on,  the more people I see wearing hockey helmets, which makes me smile. People are starting to take their brain safety seriously, and that is nothing but a good thing for our sport.  If you do choose to buy a hockey helmet,  you might think about adding a face shield to protect your schnozz.  During D1s and D2s, I started a running tally of how many times jammers were holding their faces from high blocks.  It was easily ten times for each game, and that's a lot of face hits.  Have you ever broken your nose in derby?  I have.  It is a very shocking and sobering injury, and it's one I hope nobody ever experiences!  If you have a hockey helmet, you can add a face shield to stop the face hits.  Right now, only one player in my league has a face shield, but a lot of us have hockey helmets. I think we might see more of them in the future, especially since most high blocks are missed by the refs.

Don't let someone ever talk you out of wearing the protective gear you feel is necessary.  Sometimes older skaters scoff at newer ideas in derby, including protective gear that might lend itself to this ever evolving game we play. I listen the to scoffing and then do my own research.  You should do the same.



22 comments:

  1. I'm writing to Santa RIGHT NOW for a pair of those Hillbilly shorts!

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  2. Played last night and woke up today with jank-knee. I am putting gaskets at the top of my list.

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  3. The biggest complaint I hear about hockey helmets within my league (and our A team in particular!) is how "dorky" they look. Helloooo! It's a sport, not a beauty pageant!

    One question though: where do you put your number on your helmet, if you put it there at all? I believe we require girls in our league to have it on the left side so refs can see it, and hockey helmets don't have the nice flat space that skate helmets do.

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    1. I personally don't put numbers on my helmet anymore. The refs have my arms and back to look at. I don't need to give them any extra help in calling me on a penalty. ;) That being said, you'd have to paint it on an uneven plane. I wouldn't use a sticker.

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  4. Burton Impact Shorts were popular in my old league in Vermont. They're made for snowboarding, but have good tailbone protection. Just take out the additional side-of-the-thigh padding (or not) and you're ready to go.

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  5. Tailbone protection forever - I won't do any sort of contact drill that may involve a clockwise component without it.

    Haven't gotten hockey helmets to work yet because I wear sports goggles and there just isn't room to get them underneath - any advice there? And as a note, even if I could wear contacts, I have appreciated having soft plastic covering a good chunk of my face more than once. Goggles are awesome.

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  6. One thing to note is that use of a full face-shield singles you out to the officiating crew for leading with the head. we had a skater wearing a full mast because of a previous injury and he was warned by every officiating crew he skated with that they'd be watching him closely.

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  7. I don't get why hockey helmets are so popular. The HECC standard calls out ASTM F1045 (hockey) - that is only a one meter drop onto a flat anvil, similar to the ASTM F1492 (skate) vs. a two meter drop for a CPSC bicycle. A 2M results in an impact velocity of 6.2M/s (14mph) whereas a 1M drop only results in an impact of 4.57M/s (10mph). Both require a reduction in force to 300g - I would think 300g after a 2ft drop would be a stronger recommendation than 300g after only a 1 ft drop. What am I missing? Given the information I can find, I would go with a dual-certified (passes BOTH F1492 and CPSC).

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    1. Most derby helmets are only tested from a three foot drop. Once. Period. They aren't multiple impact helmets and a lot of them have soft foam. Hockey helmets are rated for multiple hits and have the harder foam. If you have a sweatsaver helmet, your head is not protected from impact, period.

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    2. If something gets repeated enough it must be true.

      ASTM F1045 aka Hockey 1M 3 hits
      ASTM F1492 aka Skate 1M 2 hits flat anvil; also tests hemispheric anvil, cylindrical and triangular (90 deg).

      So on that... because a hockey helmet goes through 3 low impacts it must be better than a helmet that only gets tested to 2 low impacts.

      But what about a helmet that passes both CPSC and F1492? The CPSC is a 2M drop, and has to attenuate the impact to the level that a hockey helmet has to do only with a 1M drop. Crossover, Protec, S-One and Triple-8 all now make "dual certified" helmets.

      At one time the recommendation that a hockey helmet must be the better choice probably was a good one. But things have changed in the past year. Most skaters in my league have switched to dual certified. If you're going to buy a new helmet, why buy a hockey helmet if it is only certified to F1045 - which isn't a much better standard than F1492. (yes - drop the sweatsaver. in the trash. :-))

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    3. Anyone happen to know how the TSG Evolutions rate? That's what most girls in my league wear. Otherwise, I'll ask the producer.

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    4. Ah, found that they are CSPC and CE EN 1078. The latter apparently inculdes 2 drops.
      Here's what Wikipedia says:

      EN 1078, entitled Helmets for pedal cyclists and for users of skateboards and roller skates, is a European standard published in 1997. It is the basis of the identical British Standard BS EN 1078:1997.[1] Compliance with this standard is one way of complying with the requirements of the European Personal Protective Equipment Directive (PPE; 89/686/EEC).[1]
      EN 1078 specifies requirements and test methods for bicycle helmets, skateboard and roller skate helmets. It covers helmet construction including field of vision, shock absorbing properties, retention system properties including chin strap and fastening devices, as well as marking and information.[2]
      The standard's key features are:[1]
      Test anvils: Flat and kerbstone
      Drop apparatus: Guided free fall
      Impact velocity, energy or drop height flat anvil: 5.42–5.52 m/s
      Impact energy criteria: < 250g
      Roll-off test: Yes
      Retention system strength: Force applied dynamically. Helmet supported on headform.

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    5. If you don't want a hockey helmet, don't get one. I find that they are more adjustable than any "skater" helmet and come lower on the back of the head than other skater helmets. You also can attach a face shield to hockey helmets, and their certification dates are on the outside. Hockey refs send skaters right off the ice if their certification is out of date. Quality hockey helmets are rated for multiple impacts, where most others are not. It's up to you, but if you're wearing a soft foam helmet like the sweat savers, you aren't doing crap to protect your brain.

      The S-Ones are also great helmets, but they aren't as adjustable, as I've explained in earlier blog posts.

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  8. I am a very petite person (the phrase 'skinny bitch' has been thrown in my direction more than once) - does anyone have any gasket advice for me? I've tried on all of the size Small gaskets at my local skate shop, and they are always too big, even the ones that aren't pull-ups. To be honest I have this problem with most of my gear - finding a helmet that fitted was a nightmare, and I had to look for non-skating specific elbow pads because the size Small ones I started out with were so big I was getting horrific bruises on my arms from them.

    Actually while I'm asking, if anyone has some wrist guard advice too that would be aces - my wrists are so thin I feel like I'll never find ones that actually fit and don't bruise me by punching me in the arm...

    Thanks!

    Diana Sprints

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    1. Have you tried children's sizes? Some of our smaller skaters buy gear in children's sizes.

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    2. I'll have a look for children's size gaskets - the problem with children's sizes is that I'm also very long, so with elbow pads for example I did try them out and they fit around my arms but the actual padded area/length didn't fit very well because they were for someone just generally smaller than me. I shall see what I can do - I'm no dab hand with a sewing machine, but maybe I can alter my current ones or something. I'll definitely have a look for children's wrist guards, just to see. I'm also thinking about checking out this hockey helmet business - I wonder if I'd have better helmet luck with them...

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  9. I just got kicked in the shin last night - for the elevendy billionth time, it would seem - and I'm pretty much >thisclose< to buying shin guards. Great post.

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  10. Any specific suggestions for Shin guard brands?

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    1. No, but I use Adidas ones with the ankle protectors. Slambda had her hockey gear on at D1s this weekend....they don't cover her ankles though.

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