Hockey Injuries – Treatment, Management & Prevention

Hockey Goalkeeper celebrating a goal
A hockey goalkeeper celebrating a goal

Ice hockey is a fast moving contact sport and, as such, carries significant risk of both serious and mild injuries. We summarize  below what are perhaps the five most commonly reported hockey injuries.

Among the potentially serious hockey injuries, concussion can perhaps have the most serious consequences. Many believe that this condition is present only if the player loses consciousness . However, it can also be the result of a glancing blow to the head from a stick or elbow that leaves the player fully conscious. If diagnosed with a concussion, the best advice is to seek professional medical help immediately and follow medical advice. It is extremely important not to underestimate the danger of this type of injury and the difficulty you may face in recovering fully from it. Of course, the best way to prevent this type of hockey injury is to wear a helmet and other protective equipment for the head and face.

Collarbone fractures (or clavicle fractures) form another category of acute hockey injuries.  They tend to result from direct blows to your elbow, outstretched arm or outside part of the shoulder. Falling onto the tip of your shoulder is another common cause of this injury.

Other commonly experienced hockey injuries include shoulder separation, knee ligament injuries, groin strains and high ankle sprains.The products below may help to promote recovery from these injuries once a player experiences them. You can also find some additional information on managing common hockey injuries, including concussion, here. However, as with most other sports, the best way to manage the risk of injury is to follow a properly designed off season physical fitness program. Another way to manage the risk is to warm up and cool down properly before and after a game or training session.

Use Athletic Tape To Treat Hockey Injuries

Hockey is a fast moving sport with plenty of inter player contact. It places a significant amount of stress on players’ knees and ankles. If a player starts a game with unprotected knees or ankles that may have been previously injured, there is a greater chance of re-injury. To avoid this, players should tape their knees and ankles to provide reinforcement. For highly contoured areas like these, the player may find that an elastic adhesive tape conforms better to the joint and therefore provides less support. If taping less contoured areas like the shoulder, a non elastic adhesive may be preferable. Either way, using an adhesive tape for hockey should be a serious consideration. It can be an effective way to prevent injuries like high ankle sprains that hockey players experience from time to time.

Unlike wearing a brace for support, using athletic tape  for hockey games offers a low profile solution that will fit under clothes and inside footwear. It will not interfere with the player’s mobility or range of motion. An increasing number of taping products are hypoallergenic. Where possible, hockey players should choose these products to ensure long lasting comfort while wearing adhesive tape.

Other Remedies

In addition to wearing athletic tape to support weak or unstable joints, hockey players should work to strengthen these vulnerable joints through a series of prescribed exercises. Taping for hockey games should be regarded only as a temporary solution to the problem of weak or injury prone joints. A sports physiotherapist can help to design a program that you can follow over time to gradually strengthen your knees and ankles. Doing so will help them to withstand the stresses that are a part of hockey and allow to to spend more time in the game. You will also be able to return to play that much sooner following any injuries that you do sustain.

Suggested Adhesive Tape Products for Treating Hockey Injuries

Non Elastic Adhesive Tape Products

Elastic Adhesive Tapes

Cohesive Tapes

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Using Kinesiology Tape to Treat Hockey Injuries

Hockey players  can experience several types of injuries that can be either acute or overuse injuries. The overuse injuries include knee ligament injuries, high ankle sprains and groin strains. Players can manage these injuries by wearing kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape, when applied properly, will interact with the natural muscle movements to lift the skin over damaged tissues and allow fresh blood and oxygen into the site of the injury. This will help to reduce pain, promote healing and reduce muscle fatigue. Using kinesiology tape for hockey injuries will allow players to continue competing and training while the tape uses the natural movements of the joints and muscles to promote healing.

For maximum benefit, when wearing kinesiology tape for hockey injuries, please remember the following points:

  • Ensure the area to which you intend to apply the tape is clean and dry;
  • Remove all oils, lotions and creams from the area of skin to which you will apply the tape.
  • Shave the area before application to remove all body hair;
  • Apply the tape about an hour before your game or practice starts. This will give the adhesive a chance to take effect.

Unlike traditional adhesive tape, kinesiology tape does not rely on restricting the movements of your ankle, groin or knee. Instead it relies on the natural movements of the body parts to do its work. As a result, the benefits of wearing this tape actually increase the more time you spend wearing it. Players can wear kinesiology tape for hockey injuries for days at a time, even through showers and games. The tape works continuously the the entire time, which makes for even greater effectiveness. For best results, you should wear kinesiology tape during your hockey games or practice, allowing it to work “in real time”.

For additional guidance on managing and treating back and shoulder injuries in hockey, read this post.

Suggested Kinesiology Tape Products For Treatment of Hockey Injuries

Tex Classic

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Using Ankle Braces for Hockey Injuries

Using an ankle brace for hockey will help to protect against the type of ankle sprains players commonly experience. Typically, when a hockey player experiences an ankle sprain, these tend to be sprains of the Anteroinferior Tibiofibular Ligament (AITFL). This ligament is situated higher up on the foot than the ligaments that are typically involved in an ankle sprain. As a result, those in the sport typically refer to hockey ankle sprains as “high ankle sprains”.

In hockey, high ankle sprains typically occur when the player’s skate gets stuck. in the ice. Alternatively, the player may get the skate stuck against the boards at the boundary of the rink. When this happens  and the player’s foot continues twisting outwards, the ligament is subject to high forces that may cause it to tear. In serious cases, this can actually result in a fracture of the lower leg.

Once the player  experiences this type of injury, he or she will need to rest the ligament to give it a chance to heal. The use of ankle braces for hockey sprains will stabilize the ligament and promote healing. It is also advisable to wear an ankle brace after your return to action and while playing hockey games or practising. Doing so will support your ankle and help to prevent recurrence of the injury. It will also increase confidence and help you to compete with more confidence in the health of your ankle.

An ankle brace for hockey will need to fit inside your footwear. To do so, it will need to be a low profile  design such as the McDavid Stealth Cleat Ankle Brace. A breathable brace that can also provide compression for improved blood flow is preferable.

Suggested Ankle Braces

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Using Face & Mouth Guards To Prevent Hockey Injuries

Face & Mouth Guards for hockey players can provide vital protection against serious facial injuries. Hockey is fast moving and somewhat random in nature and involves frequent contact with other players as well as with equipment and fixtures.

Concussion is perhaps the most serious injury in this group. Interestingly, in male hockey, which permits “checking”, it is also among the most prevalent injuries to the head, face or neck area. Although mouth guards for hockey players are useful accessories, only the use of a hockey helmet will help to protect against concussion injuries. You can find additional advice on treating and managing concussion injuries here

If you are not using a helmet, the use of a face guard for hockey may be a wise measure if you have previously suffered an injury to the eyes, nose or other parts of the face. It will protect the injury from contact with foreign bodies and help to ensure that healing continues uninterrupted.

Injuries to the mouth, tongue and teeth are also factors in the sport of hockey. Players should obviously consider the use of  mouth guards for hockey games in order to reduce the risks of these injuries. The cost of dental treatment of injuries caused by a blow to the mouth far outweighs that of a mouth guard. That makes a mouth guard for hockey an extremely productive investment for a hockey player. In addition to protecting your mouth, tongue and teeth, a well designed mouth guard can help to protect your jawbone from fracture.

Caring For Your Mouth Guard

To ensure you get the maximum benefit from your mouth guard, follow the appropriate steps for its care. Clean it before and after each use using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Doing so will reduce the risk of oral health issues that you could face as a result of using an unclean mouth guard for hockey.

Suggested Mouthguards

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Using Hip & Groin Supports to Treat Hockey Injuries

Groin injuries in hockey can involve any one of six muscles of the adductor muscle group. Furthermore, if not treated properly, these injuries can become chronic and threaten a player’s career. They comprise between 10% and 11% of all injuries in hockey. The importance of allowing these injuries to heal properly means that the use of properly designed hip & groin supports for hockey injuries is essential. These supports will stabilize and support the adductor and adjacent muscles and ligaments. They will therefore have an opportunity to recover properly, making it less likely that the injury will become chronic.

Probably the most popular option for use as a groin support for hockey is a pair of compression shorts. They are tight fitting and sufficiently low profile to easily fit under a hockey player’s uniform. As a result, a hockey player can wear them during games or practice to proactively protect against the risk of groin injury. For best results, use breathable shorts such as the Bio Skin Compression Shorts. They will wick perspiration away from your body and allow you to stay cool and comfortable throughout the game.

Another option for use as a groin support for hockey related injuries in a groin wrap. You can use this for injuries like quadricep or hamstring strains. However, it may not be ideal for use during athletic activity such as playing hockey. It will however, give you the option to adjust tightness depending on the degree of support you need in particular situations. 

As with all sports and other activities, the preferred option is to follow an off season training program. If properly designed, and in conjunction with the use of a groin support for hockey injuries, such a training program will reduce the risk of injury recurrence. 

Suggested Hip/Groin Supports

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Shoulder Supports for Hockey Injuries

Ice hockey is a contact sport in which there are frequent collisions between players. The collisions can be either accidental or deliberate. In addition, players can collide either with the boards along the boundary of the rink or with the ice. A possible result of these collisions is a damaged shoulder. More specifically, a player may suffer a shoulder separation injury in the form of damage to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Recovery from this injury requires resting the joint and allowing the damaged structures to heal naturally. This process will be faster if the player chooses to use one of a number of shoulder supports for hockey injuries.

Shoulder separation involves tearing of one or more of the ligaments connecting the collar bone to the shoulder blade. In addition to falling onto your shoulder, this injury can be the result of trying to break a fall with your hand or experiencing a blow to the shoulder. These are two scenarios that are relatively common in hockey. For recovery to take place, the torn ligament requires a chance to rest. This can be helped by using a shoulder support for hockey (or an arm sling) that will  relieve the shoulder of the weight of the arm .This will in turn reduce the strain on the joint. In addition to promoting the healing process, a shoulder support will reduce pain. Although you (obviously) cannot wear your shoulder support while playing, you will benefit from wearing it whenever you can. This will give your shoulder ligaments as much rest as possible and promote their recovery.

Using shoulder supports for hockey injuries is therefore an effective treatment after experiencing an injury. However, an even better approach is to reduce the risk of such an injury in the first place. One way of doing so is to follow an effective off season training program. The better the player’s physical condition, the lower the risk of any type of injury.

Suggested Shoulder Supports

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