Which injuries are most common in hockey?
Typical hockey injuries happen as a result of the unique nature of the sport.
More than most other sports bruising and rupturing of muscles are common due to the hardness of the ball. And of course, the stick itself is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.
Obviously, there are some nasty accidents that result in fractures. Fingers are particularly at risk.
However, the largest proportion of injuries involve muscle strains. And most of them occur preseason.
So, although some injuries are an unavoidable consequence of a potentially dangerous game, the vast majority are avoidable.
We look at what you can do to prevent some common hockey injuries.
Preventing typical hockey injuries
As we have pointed out, muscle strains are the most common injury. They happen most often during general play and hint at the lack of adequate preparation for the game, or, at poor management of past injuries.
Although they can happen to any muscle, in hockey, they most often occur in the lower back, hamstrings, calves, and thighs. In fact, the majority of injuries in hockey are to the lower limbs.
A muscle strain, or pulled muscle, occurs when your muscle is overstretched or torn. They usually occur due to fatigue, by overuse, or through improper use of a muscle.
The signs that you have strained a muscle include bruising or discolouring, the sudden onset of pain and soreness and a limited range of movement. You should also look out for swelling or stiffness and weakness in the muscle.
Mild strains can be treated with ice and anti-inflammatories. More severe strains might require medical treatment.
These muscle strains are more often than not the result of poor conditioning. You should focus on preparing the body adequately for the sport rather than relying on hockey to condition you.
Preventing muscle strains
The first key to preventing muscles strains is focusing on good conditioning. Although hockey is a primarily aerobic based activity you need strong underlying muscles to cope with the stop-start nature of the activity.
When you decelerate quickly from a sprint, or when you burst into a sprint from a standing start, you are generating a lot of force through the muscles.
Functional exercises such as the leg press, squats, lunges or step-ups are all great for preparing the legs for hockey.
Poor flexibility is another major contributor to muscle strain. It is always an idea to work rigorously on becoming more flexible in the pre-season. Yoga, Pilates, and even deep-tissue massage can all be an aid to keeping flexible. And it certainly makes the process less laborious.
As a final part of the puzzle, committing consistently to adequate warm-ups is a must for avoiding muscle strains.
A warm-up should be completed before exercising or competing. During the warm-up it is important to gradually increase the intensity of your workout through physical activity which should include running and dynamic stretches (calisthenics).
So the good news is, through good preparation and proper body maintenance, most hockey injuries can be avoided.