By Kelly Walker
In the world of sports biomechanics, derby is a pretty unusual one. We constantly lean to one side, turn our feet inwards and aim to be in a constant squat position. Unfortunately, this is often not what medical professionals think of when they hear about roller derby for the first time. They focus on our supposed long skater strides, pushing out motion and crossovers. Sure, these things absolutely exist in our sport, but aren’t the primary form of motion we do or the mobility we require.
Before my current physiotherapist, I saw many who, when I told them I play roller derby, jumped straight to talking about our sport as if it was a leisurely outdoor skate, and explained my diagnosis using sentences like, “Oh it’s because you push outwards a lot” or “as you cross your feet over”. I tell myself, “they’re professionals. They know what they’re talking about”, despite the little voice in my head that says “I don’t feel like this makes any sense.” After one occasion where my skater stride was apparently to blame for my sudden onset of pain, I did some further investigating and discovered during a week of training and a three-game tournament weekend, I completed half a lap of a traditional skater stride a total of three times. THREE TIMES. However, I was on my toe stops, using edges to change direction, and plowing, for hours and hours on end.
I decided it was time to find a new physiotherapist. They didn’t necessarily need to understand derby but had to be interested enough to try. Here are some tips I figured out during my journey and I feel they will help you find your perfect physiotherapist:
- GET A RECOMMENDATION: Ask for recommendations from fellow roller derby players. Medical professionals will be more interested in learning more about our sport if the information is transferable between patients. Therefore, they will become more invested in your journey as well as your long-term athletics growth and ability.
- INJURY MANAGEMENT: If a medical professional continues to primarily suggest rest, get out of there! You’re an athlete and cannot just simply stop training every time an injury or discomfort pops up. You need a more appropriate management plan, one that incorporates not only rest, but at home exercises, in clinic treatment and/or support to prevent the injury from coming up again.
- FOOTAGE: Ask if they would be interested in looking at some footage. This is the best way for medical professionals to get a true understanding of what we do and how we do it. It doesn’t have to be game footage of you specifically. You can send through a game from WFTDA.tv or even a short clip of your training. Just something simple to give them an idea of what you do with your body.
- EQUIPMENT: Talk about your equipment! I once had an athletic trainer at an event who, when I presented mid tournament with shin splints and calf pain, suggested I change to more slippery wheels. This adjustment did the trick and I was able to continue skating without any further pain or discomfort, but the medical staff would not have known that was a possibility if they didn’t understand the impact our equipment has on us.
If you’re looking for a physiotherapist who offers expert knowledge and already knows the ins and outs of roller derby, visit Reload Physio Brunswick and Back in Motion Alphington. The staff are very invested in our sport and have spent many years understanding the needs of our bodies. They’re offering services like physiotherapy, massage or classes. VRDL’s preferred physiotherapy clinics’ clients include All-Stars Lauren Foote, Dani Darko, Lethal, Walker and Slamazon. Visit www.backinmotion.com.au or https://reload.physio/ to book. Your first session includes a free consultation and if you mention that VRDL sent you, you’ll receive $30 off.