Yoga for Roller Derby Resources

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Yoga for Injuries: When You Can’t Bear Weight on Your Arms

Injuries happen, especially when you’re working hard at your sport. And when they do, it can be tough to sit still! This yoga practice will give you some options to move a little even if you’re not able to put weight on your arms due to a wrist, forearm, elbow, or shoulder injury.

Note: The information contained on Flat Mat Yoga’s website and YouTube channel is of a general nature and cannot be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Please consult with a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any physical activity, regimen, routine, program or exercise that may be presented in these materials. Flat Mat Yoga does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine.

 

Yoga for Injuries: When You Can’t Bear Weight on Your Legs

Injuries happen, especially when you’re working hard at your sport. And when they do, it can be tough to sit still! This yoga practice will give you some options to move a little even if you’re not able to stand.

Note: The information contained on Flat Mat Yoga’s website and YouTube channel is of a general nature and cannot be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Please consult with a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any physical activity, regimen, routine, program or exercise that may be presented in these materials. Flat Mat Yoga does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine.

How Do You Handle Setbacks?

Things don't always go the way you want. Flat Mat Yoga has some tips for what to do when that happens!

Newsflash: things don’t always go the way you want. GAH! Sometimes it’s an injury; other times it’s not passing minimum skills assessments or making the team. How do you handle setbacks when they happen?

A setback can be anything that pushes you away from your goal. Whether you broke your leg while scrimmaging, sprained your ankle by stepping off a curb the wrong way, or got 26 laps instead of 27, any physical or mental block can feel sometimes feel insurmountable.

Setbacks suck. Hard. Sometimes even minor ones can feel insurmountable. I’ve put together some info and tips to help with getting through times that feel kind of crappy so that you can come out ready to kick ass on the other side.

The Five Stages of Grief

First and foremost, your feelings are valid. Let me say that again, in bold: your feelings are valid. Whether you’ve broken a broken bone, gotten a concussion, or botched a transition during assessments, your feelings about what happened are valid, and you get to have them.

When you’ve been working hard to achieve something and something stops you, it’s likely that you’ll go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. With a minor setback, you might work through each of those pretty quickly. If it’s something like a broken bone right before an important bout, it might feel tougher and take longer.

The different stages can also take different amounts of time. You might move pretty quickly through denial and bargaining and spend a lot longer in anger or depression, or vice versa. There is no one specific way to express your feelings, process them, or even feel them.

While you’re working with this stuff, it’s more than okay to ask for help from professionals or friends. F’reals. It doesn’t make you weak, or incapable of dealing with stress, or any other negative thing that you can come up with. <3

Things You Can Do When You’ve Had a Setback

  • Talk to your friends or teammates. Be sure to chat with folks who won’t dismiss your frustration/anger/sadness, because again, your feelings are valid. Often with frustration/anger/sadness comes the feeling that you should be isolating yourself. Try not to do that! Let your support network, you know, support you. You’d do the same for them! If you have a derby-related injury, I’d also recommend The Gimp Crew, which is a facebook group specifically for current skaters with injuries. You are not alone.
  • Take some time to wallow. You could have a wallowing day with a friend, or allow yourself to spend some time lying on the couch watching bad tv, or enjoy another guilty pleasure. Rather than trying to brush things off immediately, you can give yourself permission to take a little time (a few hours, a day or two, not the next month) to feel the grumps and not try to fix things.
  • Remember that something will happen. Whatever the situation is, it’s not going to be exactly that way forever. Broken bones mend. Cuts and scrapes and bruises heal. You talk to your coach or a more experienced teammate about how to improve at the skills you didn’t pass. You add a mental game component to your training. Whether the change is natural or initiated by you, something will happen.
  • Work on your mental game.  During the first few days of dealing with a setback, you get to feel what you’re feeling, because your feelings are valid. But if you want to move past this, you can’t wallow forever. That’s when mental game comes in. Shit happens, and you get to choose how you respond–or at least, you need to be able to hang out with the discomfort of things not going how you wanted.
  • Watch footage. Artoo Detoonate mentioned in Episode 12 of Flat Mat Radio that she started watching footage on the regular when she was recovering from an injury. It’s a great way to observe strategy and watch technique so that you’re still learning new things even if it’s not on-skates skills. And it could be a big help for your team!
  • Name your goal and make a plan. Whether your goal is getting back on skates after an injury or passing a specific part of assessments, name it. Write it down. Say it out loud. You need to know what that goal is in order to get there, and sometimes verbalizing it helps with feeling better, because you know what you’d like to have happen next. Depending on the setback, you’ll want to involve different people in this. If it’s an injury, you’ve got to listen to your doctor or physiotherapist. If it’s a skills thing, you’ll probably want to get input from a coach. Once you decide who needs to be involved, create a realistic timeline (ahem: if you broke your leg, don’t decide that you’re going to be back on skates in two weeks) with the steps to get there. The steps can be things you talk through with your support team, and should include lots of little mile markers/baby steps.

Last But Not Least…

Remember that you don’t suck even if you don’t achieve your goal within the timeline you set. Shit happens. Not everything goes according to plan. That doesn’t make your goal-setting and your physical and mental work any less valid. <3

 – – – – –

Want a little help for your focus and mental strength?

Flat Mat Mental GameCheck out Flat Mat Mental Game, You get:

  • The Meditation for People Who (Think They) Hate Meditating e-book
  • 6 audio meditations (plus 2 additional ones coming in 2016)
  • Improved focus
  • Steadier breath
  • Tools and techniques to calm yourself down before a scrimmage or bout


Get focused now!

Yoga for Ankle and Foot Stability and Mobility

If you’re feeling like your feet and ankles are super stiff–perhaps from cramming them into roller skates or climbing shoes–or you’re coming back from a lower limb injury, this video is for you. This practice will help you regain some mobility around the foot and the ankle joint, as well as strengthen the muscles that help create stability and support.

Post-Workout Yoga Practice

Need a stretch after a run, a bike ride, roller derby practice, or any other workout? This quick video hits all the right spots, so you have no excuse why you can’t get in a stretch after working out.

Roller Derby, Please Stop with the Pigeon Pose Obsession

pigeon-hipblock

I know you want to “open” your hips. I know you want to feel that big streeeeeeeetch after practice. I know every instagram yoga challenge ever has been telling you that big dramatic movements are the way to go.

And I’m still going to say this:

Skaters, you’ve got to stop with the pigeon obsession, especially while you’re wearing your gear.

Note: For the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to pigeon throughout this post as “pigeon prep”; the name pigeon (kapotasana) actually refers to a super deep backbend.

Here are four reasons to quit pigeon prep, at least as a standard post-practice move:

1. If you’re trying to stretch the deep muscle piriformis, pigeon prep likely won’t get it.

piriformisWait…what? Yep, you heard me right. Pigeon prep probably isn’t going to get at piriformis, at least not most effectively, in the way it’s usually done.

A typical pigeon prep (pictured at the top of this post) has the front hip in flexion (leg moving closer to torso), abduction (leg moving away from the other leg), and external rotation (knee and toes turned out to the side, like a mohawk turn). To stretch piriformis, the leg would need to be in adduction (leg moving closer to the other leg).  Also, for many bodies, gluteus maximus (that awesome derby booty) will limit your range of motion–so you won’t even get to piriformis.

For a better option, check out my YouTube video about hip strength and stretch; the move at 13:00 is a great way to get in there.

2. Especially if you’re doing pigeon prep with your gear on, you have a more of a chance of screwing up your knees and ankles.

 Your hips have a certain range of motion–how much depends on your individual bone structure and musculature. (Stay tuned for next week’s post about mohawk turns!) That means that if you ask your hips to “open” to a certain degree, and your hips can’t do it, something else will. That something is pretty much going to be the less stable joints: your knees or ankles. Which, as you know, are already taking a beating from roller derby.

Pigeon knee and ankle smaller

I took my knee pad off so you can see the twisting that’s happening around my knee; the bending at my ankle is pretty obvious. In these photos, I’m supporting myself a lot with my arms so that I don’t drop too much weight onto my joints in these positions, but this is the type of position that I often see people move in when they’re on skates. As you can guess, it’s not so great for the knee and ankle joints. That’s why if you’re going to do a variation of pigeon prep, I recommend reclined pigeon.

3. When you stretch, you should only move in a range in which you have muscular control.

Flexibility isn’t so great when there isn’t the strength to support it.

How do you move into pigeon prep? Do you flop down into it? Can you hold yourself up–and fold–without using your arms?When you stretch into a range in which the targeted muscles–in this case, the glutes–can’t do their job, you’re creating excessive mobility.

If you want to have that badass strong derby butt, you need stability, too. If you practice pigeon, both holding and folding in it, without using your arms to keep you up and move you, you’re building flexibility within the context of strength–a much better option for athletes.

4. Sensation isn’t really your best guide.

We’re now learning that when we “stretch” our muscles, we’re actually interacting with our nervous system, not changing muscle length. In other words, your muscles aren’t really “tight”; your nervous system thinks that they are, so it responds with sensation to let you know what a safe range of motion is. 

I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that one.

That means that someone who looks really flexible can still think their hips are “tight.” That also means that sensation isn’t really the way to tell that something needs to be stretched. And we’re not even talking about when there’s sensation or pain when you stretch, and it’s actually because you need to strengthen that muscle instead… (And that’s a good reason to see a physiotherapist who can help you figure out your muscular patterns, but that’s a whole other blog post or five.)

Basically, just because you feel sensation doesn’t mean you’re fixing “tight” muscles. And sensation isn’t what you should necessarily be seeking when you do yoga or stretch after practice.

I’m not saying that pigeon prep is always bad, and that there aren’t ways to do it safely! However, it’s not a fix-all, and it’s likely not doing what you think it’s doing.

Either way, pigeon prep with all your gear on isn’t really helping your joints.

Try the options listed above–reclined pigeon or cowface (13:00 into this video)–and see how they feel. Pigeon prep can be awesome, but it’s not a fix-all, and not the best way to keep your knees and ankles safe when you’re still in your gear.

Hip Strength and Stretch for Roller Derby

If your hips are hurting, stretching might not be what they need. This yoga practice will take you through some strengthening moves for your outer hips–super important for stability and balance!–and you’ll finish up with some gentle opening.

Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Mobility

Give your neck and shoulders a tune-up with this sequence that combines stability and opening to help you move better. Whether you skate, climb, run, or sit at a desk and type–or some combination of those–there’s something in here to help your upper body feel less grumpy.