The importance of knowing and listening to your own body.

I hate sitting out of sessions. I hate it with a passion. It frustrates me to not be involved and to not be learning hands on. I also worry about how it looks on me, the last thing I want is for people to think that I don’t want to take part or do drills. I want to get stuck in every session and more often than not tell myself off for over thinking instead of just doing. Since music made a swift exit from my life, roller derby has become my only hobby and I really want to step it up this year. If I cannot physically skate, I will still make the drive from outside of Nottingham to attend and watch practice where possible. It’s been a while since I had to sit out, but my body had other ideas.

Last Friday I tried skating a whole session without an ankle support for the first time post break. It was a very footwork heavy session with little contact. It felt really good and quite liberating to be out of the Mueller support – it was a great support, but it had served its purpose. Five months down the line since getting back on skates was more than enough time to strengthen and skate without the support. The Sunday after, I went to scrimmage practice with no ankle support to see how it held up during full contact.

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Now… the night before I had been wearing proper high heels for the first time since breaking – I had worn big platforms a the Christmas party but my foot had almost been flat in these! I wore and danced in these heels until about midnight with no pain and no issues. Sunday morning my calves were paying the price, they were tight down the backs of my calves, down my break leg especially. I probably should have stretched out more than I did that morning, but I went ahead anyway. First jam, I felt good, no issues and no pain. My strength was there as was my agility – fantastic! But in the second jam I went on, I took a hit whilst on my toe stops on the outside edge of the track. I felt a weird sensation down my foot and heard what sounded like a pencil snapping. Immediately stayed down, got off track and took my skate off. Thankfully there was no feeling like before, it didn’t feel broken – though it didn’t feel broken the first time! I was able to stand and put weight on it with no pain, just a sore achey feeling.

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Thankfully it appeared to be just tendons/muscles on the top of my foot. After speaking with the magical PhysioJen, it came down to tight calf muscles can pull the muscles on top of the foot. I learn something new every time! The body is a bizarre and wonderful piece of natural engineering. So I initially RICE’d it to keep any possible swelling down and rest it. I then continued doing my physio exercises to gently stretch the muscle/tendon out again to a comfortable place. Come Wednesday, it felt good, there was still some tightness when my knee was placed forwards over my foot but it was gradually going away. I returned to practice that night with the help of my trusty ankle support.

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The session was going well, the tightness was going away the more I used and stretched my foot. I made sure I stretched out my calf muscles too beforehand! But at one point in the drill I went up on my toe stops and tweaked my foot slightly. I felt it and spoke to Jo to let her know that I was going to take my skates off and watch. I had pre-warned her that I would be skating that night, but I was going to see how I went as I didn’t want to risk causing any further damage! So I listened to my body and I took my skates off and instead stood with the rest of the league to observe and talk about what was going on and understanding ways to work or improve on areas.

I noticed as when doing some physio whilst watching, my foot was actually feeling better off for the twinge, as though I had knocked something back into place! I briefly considered kitting back up. But instead I chose to listen to my body saying something was different and bowed out at a point where I could stop myself from possibly doing any other damage.

It really sucks not being part of the session on skates. But you can always be involved in the conversation and positively feedback to others. You can also get feedback from skaters involved on how things felt and what they found useful. If your body is telling you that something is different or does not feel right – stop. The last thing you want to do is continue skating in that session and not be able to skate for a few months because of something that you could have avoided. I know that had I kept skating or put my skates on, there is a chance I could have further injured my foot or even over compensated and damaged something else!

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When something feels wrong, take every precaution. RICE and if you want to be sure, go to A&E or make an appointment to see your Doctor. It may be nothing, or it may be something. Talk to your league mates in case anyone has sound advice for you, don’t take every bit of advice and always try to check with a medical person or physio where possible. But at all costs, you need to look after you.

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If your body speaks up, there is one important question you must ask yourself. Is it worth not being able to skate in the long term?  

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Til next time little blue monsters! x

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