Team sports are typically aggressive, and hockey is one sport that has a high risk for injury. Players are prone to injuries that can potentially impact them for the rest of their lives. When two teams of players seek to gain control of a puck and score goals against their opponents, there’s bound to be friction and collision. That the game is fast paced and hockey sticks, skates and collisions only serves to heighten the chances of injury.
Most injuries occur because players are struck by the stick or by the puck, causing fractures, sprains, lacerations and even open wounds, while others are caused from direct contact with other players.
Shoulder injuries are common and dislocated shoulder bones or broken collarbones are inevitable. Sometimes a sling and rest is sufficient but in serious cases surgery has to be performed which can have lasting repercussions. The elbow and wrist are also areas that are frequently injured. Bursitis and recurrent inflammation can cause enough damage to keep athletes off the ice.
The worst injuries are perhaps those to the head where players suffer concussions and sometimes lose consciousness. Although these don’t occur as often, when they do, they are severe and damage can be irreversible. Broken teeth, noses, and jaws are also common injuries that can happen in the head area.
Of course as with any game that causes you to stretch as you play, the hip joint and groin muscles are extremely vulnerable. A direct blow to the hip can cause inflammation and injury. Although pads are used to protect these areas, they do not always provide full protection. Lower-back injuries due to hyperextension and constant use coupled with pulled muscles can cause havoc on a player’s body.
Pulled hamstrings and groin strains are very common in fast pace sports that require sudden spurts of speed and change in direction. Sometimes these are so painful that players can’t skate off of the ice and can cause long term absences.
Hockey players have to constantly evade their opponents by changing tactics and direction; this can damage cartilage within the knee. Rehab combined with surgery (if the tear is severe) can keep players on the bench for a long time.
While injuries are an inevitable part of sports, players can correctly strengthen their muscles, understand their bodies’ limitations, and teach the body to respond correctly when required to prevent injuries. While injuries cannot be fully prevented, players can strive to be fully aware of their bodies to prevent themselves from being off the ice for extended periods of time.