Staying Fit Through Injury

Sprained ankles are nothing new to any other derby player. It sucks, but that doesn’t mean all your cross training goes to waste.

Since I’m currently dealing with a nasty sprained ankle, I’ve been using Booty Quake’s Gun Show Workout. It’s great for first thing in the morning or something to do at practice while my teammates are warming up. (I absolutely hate sitting on the sidelines when my team is warming up at practice. I feel so useless and bored.)

One workout easily gets old, and it won’t strengthen everything. Thank goodness we aren’t the only people who deal with injuries. There are a ton of videos on YouTube with workouts around injuries.

  1. Workout around your ankle, foot, or toe injury
  2. Cardio workout for those stuck in bed
  3. Core and inner thigh workout. If you have a knee injury, you may not be able to do some of this.
  4. Cardio workout for those with knee and ankle injuries
  5. Inner thigh workout for knee injuries
  6. Total body workout while seated.

One of the worst things you can do during an injury is absolutely nothing. Once you’re ready to get back on skates, you’ll have no energy, endurance, or strength. Keep pushing yourself. You’ll be back on skates in no time.

Has this been helpful? Do you have any workouts you’ve done while injured that I didn’t cover? Add a comment.

(A key to working out during your injury is not to push your injury. If an exercise is hurting you, stop. There are plenty of other options/variations to give you the same result without the pain.)


A Chance to Vent

You have a medical issue. You go to the doctor, describe your issue, explain your derby lifestyle, only to receive some weird blanket diagnosis that clearly doesn’t apply to an athlete. How many of us have gone through this? Probably a lot of us.

I’ve had good doctors, okay doctors, and why-the-hell-did-you-go-into-the-medical-profession doctors. The first one I celebrate, the second I deal with, and the third… well, I just don’t stand for that kind of bs anymore.

I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis for a full year now. While it hasn’t kept me from skating, it has created

See! We even have shiny medals to prove it.

I just want to run marathons again without breaking into tears from all the pain.

changes to my cross training. (Basically, I go till I either lose all feeling in my foot or the pain is enough to make me cry. Neither is much fun.) On the advice of my massage therapist, I decided to go back to the doctor about a new development that she thought could be a sign of something more serious. (It isn’t, thankfully.) During my appointment, I confessed that I missed really being able to run, so my general practitioner recommended I see a podiatrist. Great! Maybe I’ll get a handle on this stupid foot thing and get back to a normal training schedule.

When I saw the podiatrist, I explained to him that while I my job keeps me at a desk most of the time, I play derby and cross train a lot. His solution: wear dress shoes with a slight wedge. What? How does that help with cross training?

Fortunately, my league is sponsored by a podiatrist who actually understands athletes, so I’m making an appointment. I’m not standing for a write-off diagnosis and neither should you. So here’s you chance to vent. Share your worst medical experience and how you reacted to it.

Five ways we cheat our teams

We’d all like to think we’re always a good teammate, but you’re human. You are going to screw things up at some point. By nature, we try to reason our way out of feeling bad about it. All of us have done it, including me. Think of this as a friendly reminder that, instead of denying it, accept it, and vow to do better.

1. Miss practice… a lot.

You had to work, traffic was a mess, your kid/significant other/dog/cat/parakeet is sick, you’re too tired. Life is crazy for trainingeveryone. You are no exception. But don’t let all these excuses pile up. If you notice you are only making it to three or fewer practices a month, you need to reevaluate your priorities.

Maybe you need to take a break from derby to take care of things in your life. That’s fine. Derby will be there when you are ready to come back. You’re team will learn to go on in your absence. (If you’re missing because you’re tired all the time, check out this link for reasons you may be more tired than usual.)

Maybe you’re skipping because your coach or trainer is going over skills you already know. Wake up call! You aren’t that good. If you think the skill is easy, find ways to make it harder for yourself.

The most successful teams are successful because their players show up to practice. “But, Eenie, I don’t skate for London or Gotham or Texas. I skate for [insert league name here].” Doesn’t matter. You can’t expect your team to improve if you and others keep finding excuses not to show up. Every time you miss a practice, someone has to take time away from the next practice to tell or show you what you missed.

If improving and winning isn’t motivation enough, check out this link.

2. Give up.

You showed up to practice. Awesome! But now you’re bored, you lack motivation, or the drill is too hard. You give up. If your team can’t count on you to give it your all during practice, how can they possibly count on you to give it your all during a game?

During off skates or endurance drills for the Psych Ward Sirens, it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone yell out “last jam.” It meant start thinking about what you’re doing as skating the last jam of a game. Two minutes left to win a game and every second, every decision counts. Start visualizing every burpee as another point scored. Start thinking of every lap around the track as a grand slam.

Statistically, you will skate better at practice than at a game, so if you are giving up at practice, you will give up sooner during a bout. Get your mind right before it means risking a win. (The exceptions here are physical pain or dizziness. Those are legitimate reasons to pull off or ease up. Please don’t die on the track.)

3. Avoid cross training.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don't disappoint her.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don’t disappoint her.

Part of the reason I started playing derby was because it didn’t involve running. Now I can’t imagine playing derby without doing some running and other kinds of workouts in my own time.

Why should you cross train? To perform better for your team. It isn’t necessarily to lose weight, though that does happen a little. Running helps build endurance and certain types of running will help prevent injury (check out Booty Quake’s video on building happy knees), core workouts help you recover from falls quickly and keep you from getting knocked over as easily, and plyometrics will help you be more agile on the track.

If you take the initiative to cross-train, the results will be noticeable to your teammates.

4. Don’t research.

Do you have a teammate who knows a lot about rules, techniques, or skate maintenance? Do you know how she learned all of that? She researched it. She took time out of her day to look up how to do something. She reads up on the new rule set before it goes into effect. She wonders how to get better at a certain skills, so she looks up videos on YouTube. This is something you should be doing, too. If you have a question, look it up. Don’t rely on that one person to always know the answer.

When I started playing derby, my team had to figure out how to do knee falls based off of written instructions and pictures. There were no how-to blogs or vlogs back then. You just tried stuff and, if it didn’t hurt too much, you accepted that as the way you were supposed to do it. There are so many resources available now. Use them.

Some of the places I go for derby knowledge:

You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Loose Wheel

Kamikaze Kitten’s Facebook Page

Roller Derby Junkies

Cobra Kai Derby Coach

Little Anecdote

5. Don’t volunteer.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

This is something that happens to every team. Absolutely every team. It always feels like five people are doing the work for the entire league. In some cases, that’s because they are control freaks who don’t know how to delegate. In other cases, it’s because those are the only five people willing to volunteer.

All the excuses listed in point number one get used here as well. Look, I get it. You have a life outside of derby. But last I checked, derby leagues were still volunteer-driven organizations. Do you like having money to travel for away games? Do you like having people show up to bouts? Do you like for those bouts to run smoothly? Then volunteer.

I have teammates who think they have terrible voices for radio, but they still volunteer for the radio interviews because they want people to show up to the game. I know players who are terrified of talking to strangers, but will hassle businesses into being sponsors because they don’t want to use their own money for that plane ticket to ECDX. We’d all like to show up to the bout venue right before we play, and then leave immediately after, but the track doesn’t set up and tear down itself. Be cool. Volunteer.

Aside from volunteering being good for the team, did you know it’s also good for your heart? Yep. There was a study and everything.

As my former teammate, Singapore Rogue, would say, this has been #realtalk. I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling lately in the derby community about some of these things, so it’s nice to have a refresher… even for myself.

In pain? You can still gain.

While writing my last blog post, I fell and twisted my ankle at practice. This put a serious damper on my off season plans. Kind of hard to work on apex jumps when you can’t ankleeven take a step in skates. But just because I can’t run or jump doesn’t mean my off season is going to waste. It just means I have to train around my injury.

During our season, my home team decided that anyone injured could still participate in practice off skates. Most of us know how frustrating it is to sit on the sidelines. The team captains would come up with an off skates workout designed around the player’s injury, so her level of fitness wouldn’t slip while she was healing. The idea was that if a player has an injured shoulder, for example, she could still do things to work her legs and core. If you’re like me, and don’t want to have to fully retrain once recovered, there are some things you can do in your own time.

If you have a serious injury like a torn muscle or broken bone, talk to your physical therapist about safe exercises. For the rest of us, I’ve researched a few things to try.

1. Cross training. There are tons of work out circuits you can try that won’t aggravate your injury. I found a good list of circuits here that concentrate on different areas of the body. You can also scroll through Roller Derby Athletics and compile your own cross training circuits.

2. Swimming. When I injured my knee, my doctor recommended swimming as a way to rehab the muscles. A few of my derby friends also swear by water aerobics. This article on staying in shape while injured also recommends trying deep-water running. I haven’t tried it, so talk to your physical therapist or a personal trainer about proper technique before trying it yourself.

3. Hiking, strolling, whatever gets you moving. Currently, I can’t run at all (a simple jog across the store I work in nearly killed me yesterday). I can walk just fine as long as it’s on an even surface. When I could run, my route would take me past a cemetery. Since the cemetery has evenly paved paths, I’ve taken to walking through now. Adds some mileage to my walks, and it’s quiet (even if my husband thinks it’s a bit creepy). So get off your couch and go for a stroll around the neighborhood or a hike in a state park.

4. Yoga. Yoga gets your heart rate up, tones your arms and legs, and strengthens your core. It’s also fairly easy to make modifications that won’t aggravate your injury.

Remember, I’m not a physical therapist or a doctor, so if something hurts or seems to aggravate your injury, for the love of the Derby Goddess, stop.

Off season doesn’t mean you’re off

Hurray! It’s the off season. Well, it is for some of us. This down time is a chance to rest and prepare for the next season. It does not mean you get to eat ALL the bad things and stop exercising. Now is the time to set your goals for next season and create a plan to get there.

My sister may not skate, but she does work.

My sister may not skate, but she does work.

1. Identify your goal. Do you want to skate faster? Need to improve footwork? Learn to take hits better? What one thing do you feel held you back this last season? Figure out what it is and write it down.

2. Make your plan. If you want to skate faster, try taking speed classes. No speed classes in your area? Then have a friend video you skating around the track. Analyze your stance and compare it to video of jammers you admire. Work on getting lower, improving your crossover, and swinging your arms more effectively. Keep videotaping your progress.

Improving footwork and agility can be done both on and off skates. Plyometrics will help you with lateral movement and apex jumps. There are tons of exercise videos and how-to articles that can help you. I enjoy using the P90X Plyo video for my off-skates footwork training. On skates, you can work with your coach or training committee to put together footwork lesson plans for the whole team. A quick search for agility drills on All Derby Drills brought up these.

Hitting seems like a pretty basic skill, but if you find yourself making friends with the floor all the time, it means you need to improve your core strength. A strong core will keep you from getting knocked to the ground when taking a hit and keep you from losing your balance when you give a hit. You can’t get a strong core from sit-ups alone. Your core includes your abs and your back, so whatever resources you chose to use, make sure it is strengthening all the muscles. From my own experience, I know Pilates and yoga build core strength and help with endurance.

3. Set your schedule. Knowing what you want to improve and how to improve it is great, but you can’t work those things every day. Muscles need rest. Don’t neglect other areas of your body. If you’re concentrating on your legs, choose days to work on core and arm strength.

Don't forget those push-ups.

Don’t forget those push-ups.

Also, be forgiving. Sometimes your schedule gets messed up. You may miss a day or possibly a week. Don’t panic. Just start over.


Booty Quake of Roller Derby Athletics offers some great workouts for the off season, including core, agility and leg strength training. Seriously, I can’t recommend Booty enough.

Also, my sister is a coach for Team BeachBody, the company behind P90X and Insanity, If you need a little motivation, I highly recommend her. (She’s not paying me to write this, unless sending me cute pictures of my niece counts as payment.)

Coming next week: how to train during an injury.

Smooth derby player: pre and post practice smoothies

Earlier this week, I asked people on my Facebook and Twitter to share some of their favorite pre and post practice foods. The foods most people mentioned were sweet potatoes, kale chips, nuts, fruit, and granola bars. Two people said smoothies.

I love smoothies! They are my favorite thing for both pre and post practice. Since I have pinned a bunch of different recipes, I thought I’d share some of them here for you, (Note: I am not a nutritionist, I am a journalist who likes to research things, in this case, smoothies.)

peanut butter smoothie time Peanut Butter Lover Smoothie

1 scoop peanut butter protein powder (vanilla will also work)

1 TB natural peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 banana (preferably frozen)

3-5 ice cubes

Since I also love chocolate, I like to add a tablespoon of cacao powder.

Blend and enjoy!

I really like this one because you get protein and a natural sugar boost before going into a long (and sometimes hot) derby practice. It also offers potassium (prevents muscle cramping and balances electrolytes) and healthy carbs.

apple pie smoothieApple Pie Smoothie

5 raw almonds

1 red apple

3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup non fat milk (I substitute unsweetened almond milk)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3-5 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients

This is really more of a morning practice smoothie to me. But if it’s the end of the work day, and you still have a two to three hour practice to get through, this has plenty of protein and natural sugar to give you a boost,

Chocolate Banana Berry Protein Smoothie

1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 strawberries

1/2 cup chocolate milk

3 oz. nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup water (I like to use coconut water for extra rehydration)

3 – 5 ice cubes


This is an excellent recovery smoothie for several reasons. The water or coconut water replaces what you sweated out during practice. The berries are high in antioxidants, and the vitamins prevent muscle soreness. Also, you get some much-needed protein. Protein after a workout helps you build lean muscle and prevent muscle soreness. If you really want to read all the details about how much to eat or drink, I found this article and this article.

Now if you are going to work right after practice, you may want something more substantial. When I was a morning news producer, my routine was to rush home from practice, shower, scarf down a salad and maybe a bowl of lentil soup, and then go. Booty Quake of Roller Derby Athletics recommended a bowl of lentil soup as a good post practice meal, so I feel pretty confident in recommending that to everyone… unless it’s still ridiculously hot where you live (like Texas). Then maybe stick with the smoothie.

Don’t neglect your body. You need to have something on your stomach before and after a practice to fuel your exercise and properly recover.

Getting out there… really out there

Last weekend, I strapped horns to my helmet and chased terrified runners through the streets of New Orleans with a pink, plastic bat. This wasn’t one of my weird derby dreams (like the one where we had a bout at Ikea and then Jenetic Defect decided to skate home on Interstate 10). This really happened, and it’s been happening for a while.

nola bulls 2013

The San Fermin in Nueva Orleans will go into it’s eighth year in 2014 and is a great opportunity for derby leagues across the U.S. (and possibly the world) to promote the sport. If you are unfamiliar with the event, I’ll explain. No animals are harmed. Instead of actual bulls, the run utilizes  the lovely ladies of Big Easy Rollergirls and as many other derby girls as they can find. The bulls attach horns to their helmets and chase after runners. No one of gored. Slow runners simply get whacked on the bum with a plastic bat.

This was my first year to participate, even though I’ve been hearing about it for a while. My old teammate, Violet Seizure, lives in Savannah now, but used to live in New Orleans. Before I moved to Houston, we had talked about going together. Despite now living in two different cities, we both  made the trek to the Big Easy this year to skate together again.


The Big Easy Rollergirls make the most of their involvement with the Bull Run. The night before the run, they held a brief exhibition scrimmage at the Sugar Mill during packet pick up. One of the players even had the date of the next bout written in glitter paint across the back of her shorts. Players also manned an information/merch table over the weekend.

A little scrimmage goes a long way.

A little scrimmage goes a long way.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Big Easy players promoting their team. While visiting some New Orleans hot spots, Houston Roller Derby’s Flyon Maiden sold tickets for our upcoming bout to two tourists who said they’d be in our town this weekend.

During the weekend, I saw and met players from leagues all over Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Alabama. I spotted a skater for Rose City and heard that Rat City had a few players there, too. Runners came from all over as well. I talked to several out-of-state runners about teams in their areas and encouraged them to check them out.

Events like this give skaters an opportunity to network with other teams and introduce people to your sport and team. Is it RollerCon? No, but it’s random things like this that help us spread the word about something we love. If you don’t have anything SFNO in your area, maybe it’s time to start something.