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Hockey Injury Prevention Cheat Sheet by

hockey     injury     prvention


The intrinsic hazards of playing hockey cannot be completely elimin­ated, but the risk of injury can be substa­ntially reduced. Fortun­ately, the overwh­elming majority of hockey injuries are mild. Most injuries involve the soft tissues: bruises, muscle strains, ligament tears, and cuts. Serious injuries are possible and players should avoid dangerous tactics. A few tips for preventing injuries include:
Obtaining a preseason screening examin­ation by an experi­enced athletic trainer or physician to identify existing injuries and uncover defici­encies.
Participating in a sports­-sp­ecific condit­ioning program to avoid physical overload.
Obtaining high-q­uality equipment that fits well and is not damaged, worn-out, or unders­ized.
Enforcement of existing rules. Players and coaches should always demons­trate sports­manship and mutual respect for their opponents and the officials.
Following injury and treatment, a post-i­njury evaluation ensures successful healing and guides safe return to play.
Expert consul­tants contri­buted to the tip sheet: Michael J. Stuart, MD
Sports Tips provide general inform­ation only and are not a substitute for your own good judgement or consul­tation with a physician. To order multiple copies of this fact sheet or learn more about sports injury preven­tion, please visit www.ST­OPS­por­tsI­nju­rie­


The chance of sustaining an injury depends on many variables, including the level of partic­ipa­tion, player position, protective equipment, violent behavior, and personal suscep­tib­ility due to pre-ex­isting injuries and style of play. Injuries occur much more frequently in games and increase with each level of partic­ipa­tion.


Athletes may suffer a concussion without getting "­knocked out" (loss of consci­ous­ness). Players, coaches, and parents should be aware of the typical symptoms and signs, including "not feeling right" and headache. Any player experi­encing symptoms or displaying signs of a concussion should not return to play and should be medically evaluated.

Shoulder Injuries

The most common shoulder injuries in hockey are a shoulder separation and a broken collar­bone. These injuries occur from direct contact of the shoulder with another player, the boards, or the ice. Treatment can include a sling, rest and in serious cases surgery.

Elbow Injuries

The point of the elbow is a frequent area of contact, which can result in the develo­pment of bursitis. Thick and scarred bursal tissue (which feels like bone chips, but isn't) can be a source of recurrent inflam­mation. The best prevention method is wearing elbow pads that fit well and have an opening for the elbow, soft padding, and a plastic outer shell.

Wrist Injuries

A fall on the outstr­etched arm or contact with the boards that forces the wrist up or down may cause a fracture. Players should try bracing themselves against the boards using their forearms instead of their hands.

Back Injuries

Hockey players are at risk for low-back injuries due to the flexed (forward) posture of skating and the frequent hypere­xte­nsion (backward) stress. Low-back pain and/or a pulled muscle are the most common injuries. Stretching of the hip flexors along with streng­thening of the back and abdominal muscles will help avoid these injuries.

Hip Injuries

The hip joint and groin muscles are suscep­tible to injury due to the mechanics of the skating stride. Some of the most common soft tissue injuries in hockey players include a groin strain and a hip flexor strain. Off-season streng­thening and dedicated stretching before and after practice are important to prevent these injuries. In addition, a direct blow to the outside of the hip can cause a hip pointer or trocha­nteric bursitis. Hockey pants with reinforced padding over these vulnerable areas may help protect them.

Knee Injuries

The medial collateral ligament is most suscep­tible to a sprain because of the leg positi­on—­pushing off the inside edge of the skate blade—and contact to the outside of the knee. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) disruption and meniscus tears (torn cartilage) can also occur but are less common in hockey than in other sports such as football, soccer, and basket­ball.

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