Hockey relies heavily on both upper and lower body musculoskeletal anatomy, as well aerobic and cardiovascular endurance. Among the most critical muscles used are: abdominal muscles, oblique muscles, erector spinae muscles and associated back muscles, hip extensors including the gluteal and hamstring muscles and hip flexors and quadriceps muscles. Muscles of the core are particularly critical for hockey. Core muscles include the abdominal muscles (such as the rectus abdominus and more importantly, the transverse abdominus), and the internal and external oblique muscles. Quadriceps and gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus are relied on for power. The gluteus maximus is used to extend the leg at the hip. Quadriceps muscles in the thighs also play an important role. The inner thigh muscles are used in abduction. Among upper body muscles, the anterior and middle deltoids and biceps muscles are the most heavily used.
Most Common Hockey Injuries
Hockey players are prone to a variety of overuse injuries due to movement inherent in the game, as well as assorted acute or traumatic injuries. Back muscle strain or back ligament sprain, groin strains, hip flexor strain, adductor strain, and tendonitis of the hip, pelvis, and groin; hip, knee or shoulder injury, wrist, hand and finger injuries, head and neck injuries including concussion and assorted contusions are all commonplace. Risk of traumatic injury comes from possible impact with hockey sticks and balls. The most common injuries include:
- Contusions, which may occur in the upper or lower body
- Neck and spine injuries
- Knee injuries, particularly sprains to the medial collateral and capsular ligaments
- Shoulder injuries, including acromioclavicular, or AC joint separation, (also known as a separated shoulder) as well as shoulder dislocation
- Gamekeeper’s thumb, resulting from the tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament
- Fractures of the hand and wrist
- Concussion, ranging from mild to severe and involving brief to extended periods of unconsciousness.
- Injuries to the shoulder joint occur frequently in the game. The shoulder joint is composed of the humeral head and the glenoid fossa of the scapula. This highly mobile joint is relatively exposed, making it highly vulnerable to injury. Subluxation of the shoulder occurs when the humeral head slips out of joint, occasionally causing temporary paralysis. Fractures of the clavicle are also a common affliction, requiring proper medical attention.
Injury Prevention Strategies
- Always properly warm-up (including practice skating) prior to play
- Allow an adequate cool-down period and perform after-game stretching
Three Hockey Stretches
- Reaching Lateral Side Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then slowly bend to the side and reach over the top of your head with your hand. Do not bend forward.
- Kneeling Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.
- Kneeling Heel-down Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.