Ice hockey is a fast, high-contact sport, so injuries are not unexpected. While many injuries are relatively minor, some can be quite severe. Here is what you should know about the most common hockey injuries, how to prevent them, and how to recover from them.
Top Hockey Injuries
Beyond cuts, scrapes, and bruises, hockey also carries a risk of more serious injuries. Among the most commonly seen are:
Concussion: Concussions can occur when hockey players hit their heads on the ice, another player, the boards, the goal posts, or even the puck. A properly fitted helmet can help reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of a concussion. Players who experience symptoms such as headaches or dizziness should be seen by a doctor right away. Concussions can last for days to months, depending on severity. Players should be completely symptom-free for at least a week before returning to the ice.
Separated Shoulder: A separated shoulder can occur when sudden force is applied to the shoulder joint. This generally happens from falling on the ice or hitting or being hit by another player. Shoulder pads can help absorb shock, but they cannot eliminate the risk. Treatment protocols vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury.
MCL Injury: The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is located on the inside of the knee. Hockey is tough on the knees, and an MCL sprain is most likely after the outside of the knee is hit. Unless the sprain is severe, the player can normally resume playing in 2 to 3 weeks.
Hamstring Pull: Hamstring pulls typically occur from sudden forceful starts or bursts of speed. A proper workout routine that includes both stretching and strengthening exercises can reduce the risk for this injury. Treatment protocols depend on the specifics of the injury.
Ankle Sprain: Ankle sprains can occur when the ankle suddenly “rolls” under pressure, often due to a quick change of direction. Properly sized skates can help prevent ankle sprains. An ankle sprain could take the player off the ice for days to weeks, depending on severity.
Common Causes of Hockey Injuries
Hockey is a highly physical contact sport, so players are at risk for injury throughout every practice and game. Factors that are often implicated in hockey injuries include:
- Fast moving hockey sticks
- Inflexible goal posts
- High speed pucks
- Player to player contact
- Rigid boards
- Sharp skate blades
Preventing Hockey Injuries
It is impossible to prevent all hockey injuries, but following a few guidelines can dramatically reduce your risks:
- Warm up before every practice, game, or workout, including lower back, hip, and groin stretches
- Use proper protective gear for each position
- Follow the rules on and off the ice
- Cross-train in the off-season to maximize strength, flexibility, and coordination
- Maintain proper nutrition, hydration, and rest
- Learn and follow an exercise program designed for hockey players
Physical Therapy for Hockey Players
Physical therapy can be incredibly helpful for hockey players. We can conduct a complete physical therapy assessment to identify and correct flexibility issues, muscle imbalances, or other underlying issues before you are injured.
After an injury, you may be in a hurry to return to the ice. Yet your body has been through trauma, and proper healing is the key to avoiding reinjuring yourself. After your medical treatment is complete, we can provide you with a targeted path to safely rebuild your flexibility and strength while reducing your chances of reinjury.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready to start your physical therapy journey with a team you can trust, contact Raritan Physical Therapy at (732) 662-4400 to schedule your appointment.