Ice hockey is a popular winter sport in the United States, with thousands of amateur and professional athletes playing every year. Ice hockey is a fast-paced sport that combines players of different size and speed together on an ice rink with furious non-stop action.
Due to the hard-hitting, physical nature of the game, players put themselves at risk for injury at any moment while playing. High-impact contact from other players, rigid boards, goal posts, skate blades, sticks, and pucks traveling at high speeds are all factors that can lead to injury in the sport.
The most common injuries in ice hockey include:
For athletes who have experienced a sports-related injury, the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine’s orthopaedic surgeons and board certified physical therapists will help to speed recovery and restore function.
Training Tips and Techniques
To help prevent the risk of hockey-related injuries, athlete’s can take the following precautionary steps to lower the chances of injury:
- Warm up to prepare the body for activity.
- Stretch the lower back, hips, and groin.
- Wear all of the proper protective equipment designed for each position.
- Know the rules of the game and abide by them.
- Train in the off-season to make the body stronger, more coordinated, and flexible.
- Maintain proper nutrition and hydration to help you perform better during training
and for faster recovery.
Off-Ice Balance Drills
- Stand on one foot with eyes closed for as long as you can.
- Single-leg squats. Progress to single-leg squat, hopping from leg to leg.
Medicine Ball Twists/Toss
- Turn sideways to a partner and rotate your trunk and throw the ball. Twisting and throwing builds torso strength and dynamic stability needed when shooting a puck.
- At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week, such as running, bicycle riding, stair climber, or elliptical. Build your heart and lungs so you’ll have plenty of wind to move across the ice.
- Build explosive leg strength and balance by jumping laterally over cones or boxes.
Individuals should consult a physician before beginning any kind of training or conditioning program.