Guest Post by:
Michael Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Program Manager
MUSC Sports Medicine

Sitting on the sidelines I hear the sounds of hard hits, players grunting, and fans cheering … I bet most of you reading this think I am talking about covering a high school football game on Friday night, but I am not. Women’s roller derby … is one of the most dynamic, hard hitting, and exciting sports that I have been involved with, in my 10+ years as a medical professional.

One of our athletic trainers and I cover the Lowcountry Highrollers, women’s roller derby team; at the bouts this past Sunday we diagnosed and treated multiple ankle sprains, 2 concussions, a shoulder subluxation, countless number of contusions, dehydration and general fatigue. Overall this was a slow night for us; there were no fractures, tears, or lacerations.Roller Derby Action

Afrodite Superstar said to me, “I am in the best shape of my life, but I accept the fact that I am going to have daily pains” she also explained that the morning after a bout is always the worst, “just getting out of bed hurts”, but once she laces up her skates at the next practice, she is back to herself again.

This description by Afrodite Superstar sounds very similar to an article written by Elizabeth Merrill from EPSN about Matt Birk, former Baltimore Raven’s center, where she describes his Monday morning ritual:

Birk pops one elbow, then the other, and fans his legs until his pelvic bone makes a cracking noise. He takes a couple of deep breaths, and his feet hit the floor. The first few steps are similar to tiptoeing through hot coals. But it’ll get better; it always gets better once he makes it to the bottom of the staircase.
It’s Monday, and time to start another week in the NFL.

Roller Derby CompetitionUnlike the players in the NFL, the Lowcountry Highrollers are all professionals, in something other than their sport; they do not have the luxury of having a recovery day, they have to get up Monday morning and go to work, just like the rest of us.

As I am sitting in my office this morning, talking to Jungle Jane, president of the Lowcountry Highrollers, about a minor injury she sustained at the bout last night, and what she needs to do to expedite her recovery, I asked her why she plays? She answered, “I do enjoy the full contact part of the sport, but even more, it helps me build confidence not just on the court but in my everyday life.”

In the same article by Merrill, Matt Birk was asked a similar question; he answered, “You get so much from the game,” Birk says. “The camaraderie, the friends you make. You don’t mind having to pay that price because you get so much out of it.”

As this years’ season is coming to an end, we are starting to prepare for their off-season which includes a mandatory 2 month break from contact and reduced time on skates. During this time they have an off-season strengthening program designed for the specific needs of their sport. It includes 2-4 days/week of strengthening, muscular endurance and stability exercises, in addition to endurance, sprint, and skating specific skill training. Just like players in the NFL, they use the off-season to recover but also to get stronger, increase their fitness and improve their individual skills, so when they return to the rink in January they are ready for the next season.

The Lowcountry Highrollers’ season is coming to an end on November 9th, their home team championships; if you are interested in seeing a fast pace, high hitting sport, come to their next bout; for more information go to their Facebook page.