What troubles ice hockey players

Do you love ice hockey? Are you an active player or you have in plan to let your children play this sport? Before deciding you should think once again about the pros and cons. Ice hockey is fairly tough game with set rules… but mainly it is a contact sport, which brings several negatives. In this article we will try to explain you the most common health problems which affect hockey players.

HOW DOES IT LOOK? LITTLE BIT ABOUT BIOMECHANICS…

As in most sports, even ice hockey demands using some parts of the body more than the other. So there is naturally also disbalanced pressure, which logically has to be sooner or later lead to overload. Let’s analyse very simply the typical hockey posture and biomechanics of the movement, why is being used during the game.

The basis of success for a hockey player is adroitness, flexibility and speed. This range of abilities is greatly completed by strength. It is not optional for ice hockey player to keep a straight posture in order to be ready for action. So he/she has to stay in a constant basic squat position and a slight bow in order to effectively receive and process the passes, move fast across the ice, and dexterously end the action. The game on ice demands the player to be in typical ice skating posture, that means bending the ankles, knees, hips and trunk slightly bowed forwards (10-35°). For a fast movement on the ice you need big explosive strength in the legs. This movement is secured by pushing of one leg and ability to bear the pressure on the other leg in the deep squat. There is also a use of energetic swing during the game play.

Another point is the way of holding the hockey stick, usually it is held with both hands (one hand on the end and the other lower) on one side (left or right). The player then plays with this hand position majority of the time with the hockey puck, which has an effect on his/her musculoskeletal system. During shooting, we can see the hockey player in 4 different phases, winding up, swing, interaction and stretch. The whole body is involved in the shooting technique, but shoulder joints the most along with neck, hip and knee joints and rotated trunk.

The overload is thus usually connected to shoulder joints, which can even without the contact with other player end in partial dislocation (subluxation). The knees and hip joints are usually overloaded because of the big pressure due to the leaning and swinging phase which leads to big acceleration. Lumbar spine is burdened already with the long-term bow, which is unnatural position. It also doesn’t cope well with the rough hits, whether in legs or caused by a contact with another player on the barrier.

Unpleasant and frequent problem is also occurring with painful underbelly, or even severely strained groins. It is caused by a specific pressure during ice skating, sudden changes in direction, and dynamical pushing.

HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

It is simply unavoidable to deal with such posture even though it causes overload, in order to reach the correct technique and good results. The answer to this problem is not stopping to devote yourself to the sport you like, but rather finding ideal compensation exercise, which will involve the less used parts of the body and keep this way balance of the muscle groups. The hockey coach or physiotherapist can advise you in the area of compensational exercises.

INJURY

Health problems are usually result of the injury. Ice hockey is a tough, contact sport on the ice field full of hard surfaces, such as ice and barrier, and it involves many risks. In addition to that, each player has a wooden hockey stick, fast moving hard hockey puck and sharp blades on the ice skates of each player. By that we don’t want to paint a horror picture, but it is good to know how things are.

Broken nose, ribs and other bones, cutting wound on the legs, cut Achilles tendon and many other unpleasant problems are unfortunately part of this sport. In most cases you cannot avoid these problems. You can prevent them only with a perfect training preparation and quality gear.

FOULS

The estimation says that every third injury is caused by fouls. It is especially happening by younger players, who are overly motivated and the mental setting is in connection with hormonal levels which results in aggression. So in the heat of the game, they release the tension with a hit into another player, pushing the opponent on the barrier, collision with the hockey stick, and lastly also fist fight without the gloves. Therefore mental preparation of the athletes is optional in this case as well as professional leadership, concentration and sufficiently complexive regeneration.

WAYS OF DEALING WITH THE PROBLEMS

You can find informations about the existing compensation methods in the article: Compensational physiotherapy and shockwave therapy during active sport.

Shockwave therapy is optional in treating the injuries. More informations about the effects of the shockwave therapy can be found in article: Specifications and effects of the shockwave therapy.

Specific injuries can be cured within the complexive rehabilitation with use of physiotherapeutic kinesio taping and shockwave therapy.

Read these articles : iliotibial syndrome (ITBS) and use of shockwave therapy in sports.



Author:
FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic

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