Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Injury Fear Monster

Last year I wrote a blog about Derby Mental Injuries. Another aspect to this is Physical Fear.

It's something I know all about. My first bout I did something dumb that caused a sprained neck. Did you know you could sprain a neck?? It's a lot like a sprained ankle, but you can't turn your head for 6 weeks.

When I came back to the game, there was a physical fear that was in my body. Not just my mind, but my body itself was now afraid of roller derby.

The good news is that I went on to play for many years after that, getting better every year!
The unfortunate truth is that shaking off that fear takes patience w/yourself.

Here's my advice on making your big comeback, and shaking the fear from an old injury out of your body:

1) Take healing seriously.
If immobility is what you need: be immobile.
If tedious-terrible-annoying physio exercises are what you need: do them.
If yoga /stretching/strength training, acupuncture, or massage are what you need: do it.

Whatever it is you need to heal, do exactly that. Mentally, and physically, the conscious choice to heal correctly is an important part of the process, because it gives you time to do just that: process. Injuries can be kind of shocking.

So while you're healing you get time to get over that shock. And while you're rehabbing, you're shaking the shock out out of the body. One grueling exercise at a time.

2) Skate alone, and start anew.
Alone time on your skates is one of the most valuable tools in skating. Even in a team sport, you and your skates need to have a special relationship. That means you'll need alone time.

Going over basic skills, skating outside, or just wearing them in the house on your day off. The skates need to feel like an extension of your foot, and not the scary monsters in the closet that made you get hurt.

Have some fun on your skates, alone, and take your league's most beginner classes, before you're throwing yourself back into pack play situations. Just to get reacquainted.

3) Fall down. Get back up. A lot.
Falling down and getting back up can be either a scary, or empowering situation. Depending on where you're at mentally. I like to throw myself on the ground tell myself to get back up before anyone else gets the chance to. Especially before a returning practice/bout.

That way the ground/track don't feel like a foreign, scary place to end up. It's just part of a good, committed warm up. I still do this sometimes, even coaching, if I'm having an off say on my skates. Just to feel like a boss.

4) Write some new goals and affirmations.

Injuries feel like they're taking you back to where you used to be, but they're not. You'll never be the skater you used to be, you'll always be the new you.

The new you is forced to take the time to work his/her way back up. So... maybe the new you makes/takes the time to become an even more skilled, strong and athletic person than the old you ever bothered to be? Writing some new goals, and coming to new resolves will help you be the new person.

Let the old you go, that version of you is in the past. Who do you want to be now??

I've seen so many skaters COME BACK be better skaters than they EVER were before, (including myself, and I did it several times) by taking the time to do it right. Just tell yourself that you're one of those, if you want to shake off the fear monster and play as a better version of you than the world has ever seen!

Just take the time, and be patient with yourself. You can totally do it!


  1. Thanks Bonnie, I really like #2 very sound advice.

  2. This is great advise .. my healing started in the operating room!! and Coach Princess Lay U Out had this same advise.. "You'll never be the skater you used to be, you'll always be the new you." and if you follow this advise you will be a new and improved you!!...HUG

  3. A much needed read right now while I'm so close to being able to walk again after a broken leg. I was tempted to push my recovery a bit but I will take my time. Thanks Bonnie :)

  4. This is very good advice! I've been scouring the web since I'm now cleared to skate after a broken ankle :) I've been trying to figure out what the best skills to work on first are, besides the obvious of rolling around the track over and over again.