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by Rebecca Lingerfelt, DPT


roller derby


We are proud to announce that Boston Sports Medicine is now the official physical therapy provider for the Boston Derby Dames Women’s Roller Derby League! What is roller derby and why should you check out the next bout? Roller derby is a competitive team sport played on a flat track, and the Boston Derby Dames are an all-female player-operated league that includes three (and a new one coming soon) home teams and two travel teams. A bout consists of two 30-minute halves and includes 5 players from each team on the track at once. Each team has a player called the jammer (with a star on her helmet to identify her), who each try to score by breaking through the pack, skating all the way around the track, and passing each of the four players on the other team as many times as she can.

It’s a physical contact sport with many potential penalties and potential injuries throughout training and competition. The most common injuries include scrapes and bruises from coming into contact with other players or with the track while skating. Beyond that, there can be more serious injuries from chronic overuse to trauma. The teams compete by skating counter-clockwise and the body can become asymmetrical from training to skate in one direction only. This can contribute to foot, shin, knee, or hip injury from muscle imbalance and subsequent tightness or weakness of the legs. These women are also spending a significant time on roller skates, where you roll your ankle inward or outward to steer and there is little support in the skate itself. If a person does not maintain good foot strength, the arches may collapse when not supported in the skates, leading to potential problems in the foot and further up the leg. Another source of pain can be the low back, from the prolonged leaning forward and twisting of the spine during play and from potentially tight hamstrings. If a person rounds the back while skating, this could result in low back muscle spasms or disc herniation if left unchecked for too long. During the competition, there is also risk of traumatic injury, including ligament sprains, meniscus tears, fractures, muscle strain, concussions, and bone contusions.

Despite (or maybe a little because of!) the high risk, roller derby has had a big resurgence in popularity in the past 5-8 years. Boston Sports Medicine is now doing what we can to keep the Boston Derby Dames doing what they love to do and staying injury-free too. If you are interested in seeing a bout, please visit to find out more. If you participate in a sport that is equally brutal to your body, come visit Boston Sports Medicine for an evaluation to rehabilitate your injury.


Dr. Lingerfelt is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine