Stretching is magic. Seriously.
No matter which sport or activity, stretching is a key element of training – and derby is no different. If anything, it’s more important due to the precision and strength required to manoeuver around on skates.
Compared to any other cross-training, stretching is the easiest and most time-effective way to get results. A quick, regular stretch routine will have enormous benefits on your derby game, especially if you’re not from an athletic background.
Convinced yet? Well, here’s a few reasons stretching is awesome:
In derby, flexibility is what allows you to open your hips wide, or bend down low to avoid a hit, or lean across the track to block with your team-mate.
Stretching the same muscles on a regular basis will gradually increase the range of motion you are able to achieve. Better mobility means you’ll be able to sink lower into your derby stance, brake faster with your plow, and pull off that perfect transition.
Relief from tension and soreness
It’s hard to believe at first, but stretching feels good! If you find yourself sore or aching after practice, stretching will relax and reset your muscles, relieving your pain.
When you stretch, blood flow to the muscle increases. More blood flow means more nutrients and oxygen are flowing in, and the waste leftover from exercise is flushed out. This means faster recovery, as well as reducing that delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Stretching soon after exercise will be more effective than waiting until you’re already sore. If you can pinpoint the muscles which give you the most trouble and stretch them out straight after practice, or at least before going to bed, you’ll feel a great deal fresher the next day.
Combats muscle tightness
Tight muscles are really no fun. Even if they don’t cause obvious pain from aches and rattles, they can be dangerous for the health of your joints.
So many aches and injuries are caused by simple by muscle tightness. For example, runner’s knee – probably the most common athletic injury, frequently caused by tight thigh and calf muscles pulling the parts of the knee joint out of line. This slight malalignment, combined with repetitive action can stress the joint and cause damage.
Stretching will actively reduce tightness and tension in your muscles, with the effect of ensuring your joints are effectively supported when you skate.
If you have nagging joint pain, such as your knee, shoulders, hip, or back, I would certainly recommend incorporating stretching into your routine – you’d be surprised at the results!
Helps protect against injury
In derby, we’re always moving in weird and wonderful ways. Whether it’s an apex jump gone wrong, or a daring lunge across the track, we sometimes push our bodies just a little bit too far in the heat of the game.
When you are regularly stretching, you are teaching your muscles how to be in extreme positions. By taking them to the limit on the living room floor, you’re preparing them to cope with being taken to the limit on track.
For example, say you pivot on one leg a bit too roughly and twist your knee. A trained muscle will be accustomed to the rotational force, and will be able to adapt accordingly to the motion. An untrained muscle might tense up, resulting in a sprain.