Like it or not, hockey is a high impact sport, meaning injuries are an eventual likelihood. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of your kids getting injured with safety equipment, safety education, and exercise. Yes, you read that right, exercise! Because some of the most common hockey injuries are to the muscles, ligaments and joints affected by the game, and they can all be prevented with proper training. Here are three of the most common injuries and our suggestions for prevention.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, the second most common injury experienced by hockey players is to the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament on the inner side of the knee. It can be separated or stretched by sudden turns or directional changes, resulting in injury. While those who suffer this injury don’t typically require surgery, and recovery is usually short, it’s quite painful! To avoid nasty knee pain, make sure your kids warm up and cool down thoroughly before and after each game. Strengthening the surrounding muscles will also help, so it's a good idea to do lunges and squats, both of which will strengthen the quadriceps and protect the MCL from undue strain.
Acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) and clavicle (collarbone) injuries frequently occur when a player is “checked", shoved against the boards, or when he/she falls on the ice. We sincerely hope that your children are abiding by the rules, therefore reducing the risk of contact related injuries shouldn’t be a problem.
The second cause of shoulder injuries is less violent but much more insidious: posture. Students, who spend hours sitting at a desk all day, are at risk of developing bad posture characterized by forward slouching shoulders. This puts hockey players at risk at for more serious injuries. Athletic Therapist Kevin Neeld explains here. His recommendation is to spend 30 seconds a day stretching in what’s known as cobra pose to offset some of the damages of sitting! Not a bad trade-off if you ask us.
Hockey players, especially those playing at higher levels, are prone to groin injuries. While this final injury prevention tip is more relevant to older kids and adults, we think it's important to get an understanding of injury prevention early-on and develop good habits from the start. Groin injuries are common in hockey because of the mechanics of the skating stride. According to Athletic Therapist Peter Nelson, the key to protecting this area is not so much stretching but strategic strengthening aimed at balancing the muscle groups in the pelvis. We recommend reading his full article here - he illustrates some really cool (and creative) exercises!
Please share this article with your kids and help keep them safe on the ice!