We always stretch after our warmup, and we should all be stretching after practice as well (though many times this doesn’t happen at practice). After your first practice you will definitely be sore – no matter how fit you are (or aren’t). Here are some tips for how to make it better!
During the warm-up stretch, don’t go too deep and don’t bounce into it – the idea is to activate all your skating muscles and get your joints moving, not to finally nail your splits when you have never been there. Save the deep stretching for later, at home – and be sure to warm up well before you really get into it with the stretching. Foam rolling is another great way to achieve the same result – movement of muscle fibers and tissue that has been challenged.
Muscle soreness is normal after your first few practices or after a time off of skates – you’re using new muscles you don’t use often in everyday life. If you’re really stiff the next day, do a few minutes of movement (off skates) focusing on derby stance and weight transfer, then stretch the muscles that feel sore – but don’t overdo it. Your body needs time to adjust!
Roller derby requires lots of leg and core strength and balance. Good exercises to improve these include squats, deadlifts, yoga (especially one-leg balance poses), kettlebell training and calisthenics (push-ups, planks, wall sits, etc). However make sure you are trained in proper form before you start doing heavy strength training as there is always a risk of injury.
One thing to definitely avoid: frequent use of anti-inflammatories like Advil or Tylenol. Muscle soreness is normal and inflammation is important for recovery. Joint pain should not be ignored and using this type of medication can actually make things worse. If you hurt that much – see a doctor, a PT or an athletic trainer!