by Morgue Anna
I always thought that I didn’t bruise easily, but I was wrong. The same goes for most girls I’ve met. From when you first start to block to when your skin toughens up you will sport a fetching collection of bruises whether you like it or not. Bruising seems to be very individual, something that barely leaves a mark on you, could leave your team mate black and blue.
Healing times also vary, some girls are left with a bruise for weeks others just a few days. There are a number of ways of dealing with them. Arnica gels and creams seem to work well, and are popular with derby girls and boys, but my favourite remedy is Witch Hazel. It seems to help me heal faster, although the bruising usually looks worse for a while.
The most difficult thing I’ve found with bruises however, is the reactions you get from other people. While your team mates may sympathize or even congratulate you, non-derby people react very differently. Derby-folk accept bruising as a normal and acceptable part of every day life, but society’s perception of a woman with visible bruises is very different. I’ve been stared at in the street, grilled by an employer and been asked by my Mum why I can’t play a nice, gentle sport.
Pads are expensive, but not as expensive as broken bones…
In my time as a menace to derby I have broken 3 bits of me, my knee cap, my cheek bone and my wrist. I couldn’t really have prevented the cheek bone break, it was a freak collision with a jammer’s head. But both my knee and wrist injuries were caused by one thing: cheap, and ineffective pads.
My wrist guards had come as part of set, they were cheap and not of good quality. I later found out they weren’t even rated as suitable for adult use. They just didn’t protect me from the impact when I put my hand out to break my fall when tumbling backwards. I broke my fall but broke my scaphoid too.
My knee pads were very basic, purchased cheaply, in the days before I knew I would love derby, and would spend so much of my time wearing them. During a pile-up, they exploded when another player landed on me. The impact cracked my knee cap. Again I had bought pads based on cost not on what I wanted them to do. As a result they weren’t up to the torture I was going to put them through.
Even Zebras are not immune, in a recent tumble one of our Zebras broke his arm just above the wrist. Luckily he was wearing decent wrist guards, the surgeon told him if he hadn’t been wearing them he would have needed surgery to set the bones.
As something of a bargain-queen I have learnt to ask one vital question: Why are they cheap? If it’s because they are pre-loved, how much wear have they had? Are there any defects? Why are they being sold? If they are new, Is it a special offer? Or are they cheaply made? If they are cheaply made, it’s often best to avoid it.
Get advice from your league or a skate retailer that caters to derby before committing any cash at all. Buy the best you can afford even if it means buying them second hand, or asking for gift vouchers for your birthday.
They are called “Doctor’s Orders”, not “Doctors Suggestions”, for a reason…
Your GP will go through umpteen years of medical school before they even let them touch a patient. Your specialists will spend even longer learning how to fix the broken bits of you, if you should take an injury. Once qualified they will see people like you, with injuries like yours, day in day out, for years. And yet, like me, you may be tempted to ignore some or all of what they tell you. By not listening to the guidelines I was given, I managed to prolong a knee injury that should have meant a maximum of 6 weeks off skates, to a 4 month stretch. All because I was too stubborn to admit my doctor actually knew what he was talking about, even though he knew jack about roller derby. They may not know a power jam from a helmet panty but they know about knees!
Do not under any circumstances ignore your doctor. Rest means exactly that, light exercise is precisely what it sounds like. If your doc tells you to take time out, do it!