Even with all the required protective gear, hockey injuries can happen to both amateurs and professionals. Aggressive skating; contact with other players; and quick, explosive movements all contribute to risk of injury.
Warming up before practices and games, strength training, and using proper form can all help reduce the risk of hockey injuries. However, even with the best preparation, injuries can still occur. Here are six of the most common hockey injuries:
1. Knee Injuries
When pivoting or getting hit in the knee by another player, the connective tissues in the knees can become stretched beyond their normal range of motion. This tearing or stretching of the ACL, PCL, or meniscus can result in knee pain and time off the ice. Depending on the severity of the injury, the treatment might include rest with physical therapy or surgery to repair a full tear.
2. Groin Pull
Quick turns on the ice and explosive movements while skating can lead to a groin pull or hip strain injury. This type of injury happens when the muscles in the groin or hip area are engaged too forcefully or suddenly, causing a stretch or tear in the muscle tissue. Groin pulls rarely result in surgery and often just require time off, along with cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling.
3. Hamstring Injury
Strains or tears in the hamstring muscles are also common for the same reasons: The muscles become overloaded and are pulled or torn. Contributors to this type of injury also include improper warming up, tightness in the quadriceps muscles, and weakness in the gluteus muscles.
4. Calf Muscle Injury
The muscle fibers in the calf area can also tear when overstretched. This often happens when skating quickly from a stopped position or skating faster than the body is trained for. These types of injuries are typically not too severe and can be treated with rest, cold therapy, and compression.
5. Shin Splints
Hockey players are particularly prone to shin splints, because of the position of the foot relative to the shinbone when skating. They can also be related to overuse and lack of proper stretching. Cross-training and incorporating a good stretching regimen can help prevent shin splints. When they do occur, switching to low-impact activities and applying cold therapy can help alleviate the pain while the injury heals.
6. Shoulder Separation
Hockey is a high-impact sport that can cause shoulder separation when a player collides with another player, the boards, or the ice. Improving stability in the joint with strength training can help reduce the chance of incurring this injury, but when it does happen, it can be quite painful.
Many of these injuries can be treated with a combination of rest, cold therapy, compression, and physical therapy. In some extreme cases, surgery might be required to fully repair damaged tissues. If you are recovering from one of these common hockey injuries, ask your doctor or physical therapist about using a Game Ready cold therapy system to help accelerate the healing process so that you can get back on the ice faster.