Unfortunately, injuries are often the price hockey players pay while competing in their chosen sport. Aches and pains are a part of life no matter if you’re a recreational player or an elite NHL star. There are several injuries which are considered common to hockey players, but on the bright side, most of these can be treated by physiotherapy. Just about all parts of the body are susceptible to injury regardless of the amount of pre-game preparation and protective equipment worn. Hockey players will find the most common areas of the body affected by injuries are the knees, shoulders, arms, hips, legs, and head. We’ll take a look at these common injuries below and the best way to deal with them.
Most knee injuries suffered are sprains or tears to the capsular and/or medial collateral ligaments (MCL). Tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are rare in hockey as they typically occur more in turf sports such as soccer, rugby, and football. These common hockey injuries can be treated by our team of professional therapists at Fit Physiotherapy. For instance, a sprained MCL can be helped along by using an active range of motion method which will enable you to fully extend and flex the joint. The muscles and soft tissue that surrounds the ligaments are mobilized and the pain can be relieved via ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy.
Deep friction massage can also be utilized to help speed up the healing process. Depending on the severity of the injury, a progressive exercise program can be followed to help a player regain the strength in the affected joint. In some instances, knee braces may be worn when returning to the ice or the knee could be taped to help prevent further damage.
Shoulders and Arm Injuries
One of the most common upper-body injuries for hockey players is a separated shoulder. The Acromioclavicular (AC) joint can be separated if a player falls to the ice on his or her shoulder or is checked heavily into the boards. As well as being separated, a shoulder can also be dislocated. Players may also suffer from fractured hands or wrists if they’re slashed by their opponents’ sticks and the ulnar ligament can be torn which leads to a condition known as gamekeeper’s thumb.
The AC joint can be treated through soft tissue mobilization of the rotator cuff, trapezius, and pectorals. Again, out team at Fit Physiotherapy will speed up the healing and control the pain with ultrasound and TENS therapy along with stretching, active range of motion and specific strengthening exercises. In some cases the player may be advised to wear a strap or brace when returning to action.
When it comes to thumb and wrist injuries such as strains and sprains, the extensors and forearm flexors will undergo soft tissue mobilization. Ultrasound and TENS therapy will alleviate the pain and speed the healing process while passive range of motion, active range of motion, and strengthening and stretching exercises will be performed. Specific wrist and thumb braces are also available for players who require them.
Pain in the hips can slow hockey players down or sideline them when there has been abnormal contact in the area between the joint’s ball and socket. Players can also suffer from contusions and muscle tendon strains around the hips. Our therapists will be able to determine exactly where and why you’re feeling pain and will use the proper techniques necessary to help speed up your recovery. This may include strengthening exercises for your core and hips as well as active and passive range of motion and soft tissue mobilization.
At Fit Physiotherapy we are also experienced in treating and rehabilitating players who have suffered head injuries such as concussions. This type of common injury occurs when a player’s brain is shaken inside of the skull following a forceful impact or collision. It can be the result of a body check or a fall to the ice. A concussion can be the result of a direct hit to the neck, face or head as well as a form a whiplash injury. In general, the majority of concussions gradually heal themselves over a period of about seven to 10 days. However, in more severe cases, the effects may still be felt several weeks later. If you’re still feeling the symptoms of a concussion after three weeks you could be suffering from post-concussion syndrome (PCS). This means you may be dealing with fatigue, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, memory loss, and/or irritability.
Our team of therapists is trained in managing concussion symptoms and can evaluate the cause of the problem and help treat it. Since all head injuries and their symptoms are unique we will thoroughly evaluate your condition and create a personalized plan for your treatment. Many treatments focus on the vestibular system which includes your inner ears and their connections to the brain. If you’re feeling pain, tightness, or soreness in the neck these problems can be alleviated via the management and strengthening of the proper soft tissues. Before returning to the ice, players will also have their heart rates monitored to be sure they’re ready for action.
If you’re suffering from any type of hockey injury, please feel free to contact Fit Physiotherapy for a complete evaluation of your condition and treatment program which will have you back on the ice as soon as possible.