Ice hockey is growing in popularity throughout the country. However, players and parents alike should understand the common injuries that can occur in this sport. Athletes often crash into one another, collide with the caging and fall on the ice, leading to injuries that are painful and physically limiting. People keen to play ice hockey can enjoy the game safely by knowing the risk of injury and what steps to take to prevent them.
Facial and Head Injuries
Head injuries are unfortunately quite common in this sport. Despite wearing helmets, hockey players still often suffer blows to their heads and faces. Some of the more common facial and head damages found in this sport include:
- Black Eyes
- Facial Lacerations
- Fat lips
- Cracked, Chipped, or Missing Teeth
- Broken or Dislocated Noses
These injuries can range from mild to severe. The severest cases require players to get stitches or undergo facial reconstruction surgery.
Arm and Shoulder Injuries
Athletes put their arms and shoulders at risk when they play this sport. As they swing their hockey sticks or maneuver the puck across the ice, they are exposed to being hit by another player’s stick or injuring their own arms because of their motions. Arm and shoulder injuries are:
- Dislocated Shoulders and Elbows
- Pulled Muscles
- Sprained Elbows, Shoulders, and Wrists
- Broken Collarbones
Mild injuries like strains and sprains can be treated with ice and rest. Fractures and dislocations require surgery, physical therapy or wearing a cast or sling until the injury is healed.
Leg, Hip, and Feet Injuries
Hockey players wear shin and knee guards, as well as high-top skates to protect their legs, hips, and feet. Even so, injuries to these areas are common. Players could suffer:
- Pulled Groin Muscles
- Meniscus Tears
- Dislocated Hip Joints
- Torn ACLs and PCLs
- Achilles Tendonitis
Leg, hip, and feet injuries can be devastating and bring a player’s season to an end. They also can require surgery, physical rehabilitation, and extensive rest before they are properly healed.
Back and Spinal Injuries
Back and spinal injuries are among the most debilitating in ice hockey. Even with athletes abiding by the rule of “Heads up, don’t duck,” they still are at risk of hurting these bodily areas. Common back and spinal injuries include:
- Fractured Vertebrae
- Torn or Pulled Muscles
- Fractured Ribs
- Herniated Discs
Mild injuries like pulled back muscles or herniated discs require that players rest and avoid playing for days, if not weeks. However, injuries like fractured vertebrae and paralysis often end a player’s ice hockey career to an end permanently.
Once people understand the physical risks of this sport, they can take the appropriate steps to prevent being injured. Before taking to the ice, hockey players can play safely and avoid being hurt by following these precautions.
Preseason Health Screenings
Before the season starts, hockey players should undergo a physical exam at their doctor’s office. Their doctor can check for any medical conditions that could raise their chances of being hurt while playing.
Exercise and Conditioning
Athletes can minimize their risk of injury by conditioning and exercising before and during the season. Lifting weights, running, and doing aerobic exercises will help strengthen their muscles, bones, and joints.
Regulations require that players wear safety gear while playing. Helmets, knee pads, and shin guards can protect some of the most vulnerable parts of their bodies.
Play by the Rules
Obeying the rules of the game can also prevent people from being hurt. Keeping their hockey sticks below their waists, avoiding fistfights, and respecting the referee’s calls can keep players safe on the ice.
Ice hockey is a fun and fast-paced sport that can put athletes at risk of being injured. Players can play safely and avoid being hurt by knowing the common injuries and taking steps to prevent them.