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No, no… I’m fine… Can I go in the next jam?

**Disclaimer** My team/athletic trainer is not allowed to use this blog against me.

I can’t even tell you how many times that phrase has left my mouth after my coaches and teammates have watched me wince when my knees hit the floor, and then not get up right away. ‘Are you ok?’ *Head shake* ‘Yeah, I’m good.’

I came into derby with a knee ‘syndrome’ (my patella goes off-track and the cartilage on the back of  it gets all inflamed). Now, take that and add falling on my knees on a concrete floor...Apparently, that’s not good for you.  My knee is now swollen and sore most of the time. Playing with a chronic injury is more annoying than inhibitive, but it should probably be both.

I’m REALLY stubborn. REALLYREALLYREALLY. My best friends, coaches, significant other, family, and athletic trainer have all said that I should take time off...and I did once...but only after I ended up on crutches after a few rough falls in a game. I was off for one game. Just one. It was an away game, and I went to watch. Heart-wrenching. I sat in suicide seating, and watched, trying to communicate and will the blockers to close the holes in the walls that I saw the jammers heading for. I’m sure you can guess how well that worked.

Skating with any chronic injury is a pain, and I can only speak to a knee injury, but I feel like the general gist of chronic injury is the same; you don’t want to stop. Normally the injuries take about a year or so to manifest, because it takes that long to really get totally into derby. I started playing knowing that I had knee issues, and it started to bug me about a year or so in, so I bought gaskets, and voila! All better...for a few months.  When it got worse, there wasn't much I could do to help it...physical therapy wasn't much help, resting it didn't help (and by resting it, I totally mean not skating 3-4 days out of 7), and ibuprofen became my candy.

It’s a battle between knowing you should stop, and not wanting to be a quitter or give in to the pain. Or being of the mindset that you’re already in pain, so there’s no reason to stop now. It took me well over a year to get checked out by a doctor and get an MRI. I still don’t  have the results I need, because the only suggestions that he really had revolved around PT because he thought my quads and butt muscles weren't strong enough...WUT?!?!

The moral of the story is: do as I say, not as I do. If it hurts to do something don’t. Soreness and hurting are not the same. Your body knows the difference, and it will tell you. Playing and practicing hurt will lead to further strain, and if you want to do this until you are 80, then you better start listening to your body now. If you’re in the clutches of a chronic injury, this is exponentially more important. You know what you can and can’t handle, and your team would rather you be on the track with them, than in the crowd because you wrecked yourself at practice or in a game doing things you shouldn't have. Don’t use your injury as an excuse, use it as an opportunity to strengthen other parts of your game. I don’t really jam anymore, because it stresses my knee too much, but I will block in every other jam if needed. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug and I’m a track hog.

 

 
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Lethal Objection, 5TH