Unbreakable: Strengthening your ankles for derby

I have seen three skaters from three different leagues break their ankles during a bout in the last two months. Injuries are

It's worth mentioning that the skater's knee in the bottom left picture is straight. It's her foot that's crooked.
It’s worth mentioning that the skater’s knee in the bottom left picture is straight. It’s her foot that’s crooked. And the skater in the bottom right was osteoporotic due to being post-partum and nursing.

nothing new for derby players. It is a contact sport. But I think in the process of acknowledging that fact, we forget that there are measures we can take to prevent some of them.

After one of my teammates broke her ankle, Jerry Seltzer was kind enough to donate to her GoFundMe. He also expressed worry about our ankles in a blog post. His point that these didn’t happen as often in his day should be taken with a grain of salt. Skating clockwise could certainly have something to do with the increase in ankle breaks, but so could our lower skate boots, more emphasis on plow stops, and an overall lack of ankle strength.

Our ankles need to be stronger to play this kind of derby. We rely on them for so much. Since ankle injuries are the new knee injury, let’s talk about prevention.

Cross training is imperative to being a successful derby player. We lift weights, run, swim; all to make us more effective on the track. So why are we neglecting our ankles?

Far better qualified bloggers have posted on the benefits and how-tos of ankle strengthening. After coming back from my stupid ankle injury (I feel backwards during a drill), I struggled for months with one ankle that felt significantly weaker. Thank the derby goddess for Booty Quake and her feet and ankle prehab post. Using some of her exercises over a few months had my ankle better than ever. I have since scared many coaches and teammates with my ability to seemingly roll my ankle and keep going.

IMG_7290Since then, Treblemaker has also written two posts with great advice to make us less susceptible to injury. One is dedicated to building bullet proof ankles. Here’s another on strengthening feet. You can include these exercises in your team warm up or simply do them on your own.

Will this guarantee that you never break your ankle? Probably not. There’s always the chance that someone will fall on you or you’ll trip and land weird. Stuff happens. We play a contact sport and risk of injury comes with that, but going the extra mile to strengthen our ankles and feet can certainly prevent a good deal.

(Special thanks to all the skaters who contributed pictures to this post. Also, please consider contributing to the GoFundMes to help JBR, Arme Smash, and Ashinator pay for their medical costs.)


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