At some point in your derby career you, or one of your team mates is going to get hurt, and we’re not talking about just a bit of rink rash, We’re talking about a serious injury that means a trip to the hospital and telling everyone that your totally fine while sucking on the green whistle and getting loaded into the back of an ambulance.
Now we at Better Bearings are not doctors, so take our advice with that in mind , but we have had some more serious injuries and come back to skating and this is what we’ve found.
The body seems to go through 3 stages in its injury and you can’t rig it or change it no matter how quickly you want to get back on skates. Trust us here, skating on an injury usually does more damage you could be off skates longer or permanently if you push it to hard.
Stage 1, The “fuck this hurts” part
The first part is the inflammation phase. This happens immediately (within minutes) of a serious injury and can last from several days to a couple of weeks for more serious injuries. During this phase the injured area swells up; it will likely be red, hot, may throb, and it will hurt even if the area isn't moved.
You should go to the doctors! No really, your not being soft, just go.
For all you gym meatheads, if your doctor or medical professional says its ok, You can train unaffected areas if it doesn't bother the injured area, but the training goal for the injured area is simple: don't make the injury worse. That means leave it the hell alone! Don't go for a light skate, don't stretch it (unless your told to), Just leave it alone.
Stage 2 the “this just sux” part
Once the swelling has gone down, the body enters the second stage of injury, the fixing itself stage.
As the name implies, the body is now trying to repair the injury, but now the body is in quick fix mode. It wants to repair the injury as quickly as possibly to allow basic functioning to return.
This is extremely important for a skater to remember. The body is attempting to return to basic functioning during this stage, nothing more. But problems occur when the skater starts to feel better and, eager to return to the track, tries to push it or "test it." Most of the time the result is the area gets re-injured and the entire process must start all over again.
Usually the doctors will tell you to focus on a pain-free range of motion, even if it's limited in the beginning. Just to get it all moving right again.
Skaters should also focus on stretching to get back any flexibility that was lost from the injury, with the goal of a return to a normal level of flexibility if possible. When Ace Did her Achilles she did not stretch it much in this stage at all and still has limited flex in that ankle. (idiot)
Typically the repair phase lasts about two months from the end of the inflammation phase for most serious injuries. So you’re not totally bummed out about being off skates you can work on other areas of the body or components of fitness not limited by the injury, or contribute to your league and learn a new skill. (eg Ace learnt how to bench manage her leagues travel team)
Stage 3 the “thank god that’s over” part
The final phase in injury is the remodeling phase, which usually lasts 2-4 months from the end of the repair phase. Since death has been successfully averted and you haven’t left derby, the body wants to get back to the way shit was, yo. But the body is also smarter than you and a hell of a lot more patient. It takes its sweet time in the healing process because it's trying to do things right.
The training goal for this phase is a "return to previous level and beyond." That means getting cleared to get back on skates and starting out slow, rebuilding up your skills and catching up to the rest of your team, who , by now have learnt a whole bunch of skills you need to get your head around.
Getting injured sucks the big one, but all is not lost. Once the injury has been properly diagnosed and treated, sit down with your doctor and set a realistic time line for when you think you will be back on skates.
Work slowly toward that timeline and be patient, as most big injuries take at least six months to return to near normal. Do some research and find out what other people are going through, us derby folk all seem to get the same injuries. You're not alone and other skaters have likely suffered far worse than what you're going through.
You could even use this time as a gift, although it won't feel like a gift when you're stuck in the middle of it. See it as a chance to return to the basics, like catching up with the Non- Derby friends you haven’t seen since you entered the cult, Clean your bearings and get your gear checked, actually do work at work, not just sit on facebook groups organising training calendars.
Bottom line is, you will be on skates again. Use the mental toughness and determination that playing roller derby has developed in you and apply that to your injury. Remain positive; remember those that helped you out, and you may just come out on the other side stronger than ever before.