Sports Injury Treatment: Prevention

Youth Ice Hockey Injuries

Ice hockey is one of the fastest growing youth sports. Playing ice hockey will help you improve your fitness and coordination while having lots of fun. You will also learn skills like discipline and teamwork. But ice hockey is also a high-speed, contact sport. It can cause serious injuries.

Many hockey injuries can be prevented, and you can take steps to lower your risk of injury.


How Can These Injuries Affect Me?

As a young player, you may be at higher risk for injury than adult players. And a serious injury could cause long-term problems because your brain, bones, and joints are still growing and developing. Many kinds of injuries can occur while playing ice hockey, including:

• Soft tissue injuries:
• Bruises and cuts.
• Injuries to the attachments between bones (ligament sprains) and the attachments of muscles to bones (tendon strains). These injuries occur mostly in the knees, ankles, shoulders, and back.
• Injuries that result from contact with other players, the boards, the ice, the puck, or a hockey stick. These can include:
• Broken teeth.
• Broken bones, such as a broken collarbone or wrist.
• Damage to elbow joints or shoulder dislocations.
• Spinal injuries.
• Concussions. This is a type of head injury that can happen after a blow to the head or body. In young players, a concussion can lead to long-term brain injury.
• Overuse injuries. These happen after repeating certain movements too many times, often from overtraining. They often affect the back, groin, and hip.


What Actions Can I Take To Prevent Ice Hockey Injuries?

Take safety measures before play begins:

• See a health care provider for a physical exam before starting play for the season. Let the health care provider know about any:
• Previous injury.
• History of asthma.
• Allergies.
• Heart condition.
• Other medical conditions.
• Make sure you have trained and practiced before playing in a game. This should include working on strength, flexibility, and conditioning. Begin during the off-season.
• Ask whether your coaches and trainers have basic first aid training and emergency backup available.
• Check that the rink is safe. This includes a safe ice surface, safe rink enclosures and boards, and breakaway goals.
• Warm up and stretch before every practice and game. Cool down afterward.
• Make sure you are well hydrated before and during practices and games. This includes drinking 16 to 24 oz of water 2 hours prior to exercise.
• Start with an in-house program to learn basic skills and rules before playing in games or joining a travel team. Travel team games are more competitive, and injuries are more common.

Use proper equipment
Equipment should fit well and be in good condition. Proper equipment for ice hockey includes:

• An approved helmet with full face mask.
• Safety glasses for players who wear glasses.
• A mouth guard.
• Protective gloves.
• A complete set of pads.
• A padded bra for girls.
• An athletic supporter with a cup for boys.
• Hockey skates that fit properly and have good ankle support.
• Proper goalie equipment when playing that position. This should include thick leg pads, chest and arm protection, a blocking glove, a catching glove, and goalie skates.

Use recommended techniques

• When bracing against the boards, use your forearms instead of your wrists.
• When falling on the ice, avoid falling on an outstretched arm and open hand.
• Know the rules of your hockey league. Most hockey injuries occur during body checking. Some youth hockey leagues do not allow body checking.
• To avoid injury:
• Do not check another player from behind.
• Do not lead with your head.
• Do not raise a stick above waist level or use the stick as a weapon.
• Do not fight or try to physically intimidate another player.

Follow basic safety rules

• Play for the love of the game, not only to win.
• Rest is important. To help your body recover:
• Take a rest day each week.
• Only play on one team during a season.
• Take breaks from hockey by playing other sports.
• Let coaches and trainers know about any pain you are having.
• After an injury or a concussion, return to play only after you have been cleared by a health care provider.
• Do not play or practice if you are sick, tired, or hurt.
• Take medicines only as told by your health care provider.
• Do not use steroids.
• Do not use any sports supplement without checking with a health care provider.


How Can I Tell If I Have An Injury?

Common signs of injury include:

• Severe pain.
• Any pain that does not go away or comes back every time you play.
• Stiffness or weakness of the back, hip, or groin.
• Numbness or tingling.
• Swelling or bruising.
• Limited movement.
• Weakness.
• Loss of athletic ability or stamina.

Knowing the signs of a concussion is very important. These include:

• Headache.
• Dizziness.
• Confusion.
• Nausea and vomiting.
• Any loss of memory or consciousness after a blow to the head or body.

Always tell your coach, parents, and trainers if you have signs of an injury. Never hide an injury or try to play through the pain.


Where To Find More Information

• American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: orthoinfo.org
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/headsup

Contact A Health Care Provider If:

• You have signs of an injury that are getting worse or are not improving with rest and treatment at home.

Summary

• Ice hockey is a high-speed contact sport that includes a risk of some serious injuries. Common ice hockey injuries in young people include soft tissue injuries, broken bones, and overuse injuries.
• Hockey players are also at risk for a type of brain injury that can happen after a blow to the head or body (concussion). Concussions in young players can lead to long-term brain injury.
• Many ice hockey injuries can be prevented by having proper equipment, using good technique, and following basic safety guidelines.
• Always let your coach, parents, and trainers know if you have an injury. Do not hide an injury or try to play through the pain.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.


Document Released: 04/29/2019 Document Revised: 04/29/2019 Document Reviewed: 04/29/2019
Elsevier Interactive Patient Education © 2019 Elsevier Inc.

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