If you've recently joined a men's or women's roller derby team, you may be excited at the prospect of finding camaraderie with individuals from all walks of life who are interested in the athleticism and inclusiveness of this quickly-rising sport. However, while fun to participate in, roller derby can have a lifelong impact on your joints and connective tissues, and proper conditioning and training is key to preventing chronic injuries. Read on to learn more about the best ways to protect your joints while practicing and playing roller derby.

Invest in good safety equipment

Most roller derby leagues won't let you step (or skate) foot on the track without the proper safety equipment -- but not all equipment is created equal. Purchasing kneepads or wristguards originally intended for skateboarding or another non-contact wheel sport may not provide you with the impact protection you need when giving and taking hits. By that same token, a bicycle helmet may appear identical to a roller derby helmet, but is unlikely to provide shock absorption in the places you'll need.

By visiting a roller derby supply store rather than a more general sporting goods store, you'll be able to chat with knowledgeable sales associates and get more information about the fit and function of the safety equipment necessary to keep you skating.

Maintain derby stance at all times

"Derby stance" -- or the crouching position skaters assume to give or take hits -- is key to preventing injury. Just as in football, rugby, and other contact sports, being hit while at a standstill and standing straight up can put tremendous strain on all affected joints; on the other hand, being in a crouched position with muscles flexed is likely to give you the strength to counter the hit, rendering it much less effective and reducing the risk of injury, while also putting some pressure on the person who hit you.

Because skating and standing in a semi-crouched position for hours at a time can be exhausting, it's important to condition yourself and practice squats and other leg exercises to ensure you have the strength to maintain this stance. 

Build up your bones

Whenever stress is put on a section of bone, it grows thicker and more impervious to injury -- so working on weight-training exercises that focus on the joints can help you build up the bones surrounding these joints, making it safer for you to give and receive hits. It's important to allow yourself some time after each weight-training (or derby skating) session for your body to recover. 

For additional information on how to protect your bones and joints while playing roller derby, contact an orthopedic doctor at a medical facility like Northern Care Inc Prosthetics & Orthotics.