Whether you're a weekend warrior or a professional player, so long as you're a hockey player – reading this will do you good. You already know that hockey is a sport that is fast paced, strategic and full body contact. Those three characteristics alone should tell you it's important to be in shape when playing this game. Most hockey injuries happen because of high impact hits during the middle of a game. A knee injury or a separated shoulder can be season ending with painful rehabilitation.
Incorporating a good stretching routine can help to minimize muscle imbalances, prevent injury, improve your exercise tolerance and your hockey performance.
Common hockey injuries, and their prevention, include:
Athletes may suffer a concussion without getting "knocked out" (loss of consciousness). Players, coaches and parents should be aware of the typical symptoms and signs, including "not feeling right" and headache. Any player experiencing symptoms or displaying signs of a concussion should not return to play and should be medically evaluated.
The most common shoulder injuries in hockey are a shoulder separation and a broken collarbone. Ice and the walls are not forgiving, unfortunately our bodies are. This is why we wear pads; we want something other than our bodies to absorb the impacts. So to prevent shoulder injuries you must make sure that you have the proper gear. Whether it's a pro game on the ice of the Rexall Place or a small game out on a frozen lake or pond with friends, ice is still ice. It's hard and the impact can snap small bones like your collarbone.
Hockey players are at risk for low-back injuries due to the flexed (forward) posture of skating and the frequent hyperextension (backward) stress. Low-back pain and/or a pulled muscle are the most common injuries. Stretching of the hip flexors along with strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles will help avoid these injuries.
Due to the mechanics of skating motions and the agility required while playing hockey, the hip joint and muscles undergo a lot of stress. Common injuries include hip flexor or groin strains, hip bursitis, or tears in the cartilage. A proper stretching and strengthen program as well as padding over the lateral hip can help prevent them. You should incorporate an off-season program of stability and strengthening exercises to help reinforce the smaller muscles of the hip which when weak often contribute to injuries of the larger muscles or joints.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of hockey injuries are mild. Most injuries involve the soft tissues: bruises, muscle strains, ligament tears, and cuts. Serious injuries are possible and players should avoid dangerous tactics. A few tips for preventing injuries include: