Two weekends ago I played in a most amazing roller derby tournament, Flat Track Fever. I skated in Calgary’s Olympic Oval, which was amazing and also got to watch some amazing skill in women’s, men’s, co-ed and junior bouts.
The Wednesday prior to the tourney, I got tangled and took and bad spill at practice. I went down on my butt with legs forward and my knees bent out, essentially making a W with my lower body when I fell. I found out later that the impact of the inside of my knees hitting the floor in that way, I sprained my LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) on my left leg, which is the ligament on the outside of the knee.
Thinking I could push through and fear of letting my team down, I went to the tournament and played in 2 games. I had fun but was always aware of the throbbing in my knee.
Fast forward to the week following; more throbbing, swelling and feeling that my knee was filling with fluid prompted me to visit a physiotherapist who diagnosed me with a ‘Grade 2’ sprain and now I’m off skates and have regular visits to therapists to try and fix me.
It’s been almost 2 weeks since my initial injury and I’m still limping, I still have to ice it and simple tasks like getting in and out of a car make me groan like I’m 70. I’m terribly frustrated. I can’t imagine what skaters who have worse injuries than myself, like full tears or broken bones, have to go through.
Injury prevention is on my mind.
I found this great article – 6 Ways to Ruin Your Knees – where they talk to derby girl Iron Maiven who tore her ACL.
But thinking a little further beyond published articles about cross-training, stretching, resting, etc., I started to recall lower-body injuries that happened within my league or that I witnessed. A common theme started to surface.
Most of them happened when the skater fell on her butt.
In fresh meat, you’re taught the importance of keeping your balance forward and taking a knee(s) when you fall. You often learn that lesson quickly after the first sting of a tailbone bash. Also coaches are quick to remind new skaters to fall correctly if they witness a flailing fall to the posterior.
But after the fresh meat phase, basic reminders like ‘fall to your knees’ often don’t get spoken to the veteran skaters. Warmups involving single or double knee falls are often looked at as trite distractions until it’s time for drills and scrimmaging.
Dare I say veteran skaters become complacent to the importance of knee falls? I know I did.
Track action happens so fast that a fall to the butt is sometimes unavoidable. Hell, I’ve spontaneously fallen to my ass while at a stand still.
However it begs the question, after fresh meat training, are we doing enough to continue to make sure knee falls are instinctual?
If I ever get back on skates (and I realize I’m being dramatic but I’m super cranky that I’m not feeling any improvement in my knee today so bear with me) I plan on filling my free-skate time with shifting weight to my heels and lurching forward to avoid a potential ass-fall.
I’d love to hear what you think… are you complacent with how you fall during a game? Do you think about it? When you fall improperly, do you take steps to improve so it doesn’t happen again or do you chalk it up to a one-time event under specific circumstances?
PS: Since writing this post I’ve had another visit with my physiotherapist. He took pity on me and fitted me with this sexy new leg brace which makes walking much more comfortable even though it looks massively hindering. I really want to make 6 Million Dollar Man sound affects when I walk now.