Ice hockey is Canada’s most popular sport, with more and more individuals taking interest in the game over the past decade. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous contact sports, with both amateur and professional athletes sustaining serious injuries because of the game.
Whiplash injuries can occur when there’s a sudden acceleration and deceleration of your head and neck. It can be a quick forward and backwards motion or side to side. Typically, athletes experience whiplash when they’re tackled unexpectedly or suffer a fall, causing their neck to jerk with forcibly. The sudden movement may cause injury to the cervical ligaments, joints, discs and soft tissue surrounding the head and neck.
Whiplash injuries can often go unnoticed for up to a day because the symptoms aren’t always directly associated with neck pain. You may also experience headaches, neck stiffness, increased muscle tension or tightness in the neck and shoulders, or numbness/tingling down your arms. However, it’s crucial to identify the symptoms in a timely manner in order to treat the condition to prevent any long-lasting impairments or chronic pain that may develop if the injury is left unaddressed.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are two ligaments inside the knee and they are responsible for providing stability to the knee, especially during movement. The ACL and PCL can be torn (partial or full) in both contact and non-contact situations. Injury to an athlete’s ACL/PCL can occur when there’s direct contact (e.g. a player falling onto another’s knee) or when the athlete is pivoting/twisting when their foot is planted or when their knee is hyperextended. After an ACL/PCL sprain, it may become very swollen and it might feel “unstable” when you try to stand and walk. You may have also heard a “popping” sound at the time of injury. If you suspect an ACL/PCL injury or have a very painful and swollen knee, please see a health care professional as soon as possible to receive the proper treatment.
Ankle injuries are all too common for hockey players. Skating your way across the ice tends or making contact with another player can cause you to twist and turn your ankle at odd angles. This can cause the ligaments in your ankle to stretch beyond their capacity and tear. Ligamentous injuries can range from mild to severe. Some indications that you may have injured your ankle are: pain, swelling, difficulty putting weight onto your ankle and limited ankle movement.
If you believe you have injured your ankle, please see a health care professional such as your family doctor or physiotherapist to assess your ankle injury and provide you with various treatment options to help you get back to playing hockey.
How to Prevent Hockey Injuries
Although they aren’t entirely avoidable, there are a few things that can reduce the chances of painful injuries:
- Participating in a comprehensive warm-up routine prior to practice and games. Warm-up exercises may include a light jog/skate, dynamic stretching and strengthening or balance exercises.
- The warm-up routine should be sport-specific and emphasize the muscle groups that will be used most during the game.
- Wearing well-fitted and proper safety gear/equipment
Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute clinics assist with sports medicine and physiotherapy. Located in St. Claire, Thornhill, Sheppard, and greater Toronto, they offer a myriad of services. These include active release techniques, sports massage, and sports podiatry among others.
Get in touch with their team by calling at 1-844-223-7364 to learn more about their services!