Whether you’re playing ice hockey or field hockey, it’s an intense game. With that comes the potential for concussions and back injuries, among other injuries. While there is no way to completely avoid all injuries, there are some steps you can take to help ensure your safety and the safety of other players.
As with football, concussions are a serious concern in hockey. Hockey is a fast-paced contact sport, and with that comes the risk of injuries like concussions. However, there are some things you can do to lessen the risks of concussion.
“Heads Up” Applies to Hockey, Too
You should not be using your helmet to make contact with another player; this puts you at risk for a concussion and may also violate the rules of the game. In fact, you should aim to keep your head up during the whole game. Look around, and be aware of your surroundings. This will help you to avoid an accidental collision that you weren’t prepared for.
Watch Where You Hit
Avoid checking, or hitting, other players in the head or from behind. By making contact with another player in these areas, you not only the other player at a higher risk of concussion, you also risk a penalty against yourself. In order to promote safety, there were rules made against both of these types of hits.
Strengthen Your Neck Muscles
By building up the strength of your neck muscles, you may reduce your risk of concussion. If you know you are about to take a hit, you can flex your neck muscles, which can help to reduce the back-and-forth motion of the head that can cause a concussion. The stronger your neck muscles are, the more effective this move will be. Resistance exercises, dumbbell presses, and shrugs are good ways to help build up strength in the neck. Try working with a trainer to learn the proper way to do these exercises.
Wear the Right Helmet
Make sure your hockey helmet fits properly. It should fit securely on your head and fasten tightly so that it does not move while in play. You also need to make sure you are wearing the helmet correctly; make sure it isn’t tilted too far forward or back so that it protects all the right areas.
Preventing Back Injuries
In particular, lower-back pain is common among hockey players. This is due to the flexed posture required for skating combined with frequent hyperextension during gameplay. Here are some things you can do to help lessen your risk of lower back pain.
Warm Up Before Playing
By starting out with warmed-up, stretched muscles, you are putting yourself in a good position to avoid muscle tightness during the game. Muscle tightness can inhibit your ability to play and make it difficult to move the way you want to.
Strengthen Your Core and Hip Flexors
When your core muscles and hip flexors are weak, it causes the smaller surrounding muscles to work harder to compensate. When these muscles are overworked, you’ll start to feel pain. This is why it is important to participate in strength training regularly. If your team doesn’t have a strength training program, you might want to consider working with a professional trainer on your own.
Hockey is a strenuous, demanding game, and muscle fatigue is common. This is why hydration is so important. Your muscles are more likely to fatigue easily and start to spasm if you are dehydrated.
While there is a high risk of injury in hockey, by taking the proper precautions and following game rules, you can reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others.