8 Common Hockey Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Written By James Seeds, MD on March 10, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks wasted little time making NHL history this season. As of this writing they have yet to lose in regulation, and their 16-0-3 mark is good for the longest point streak to start a season in league history. With the city buzzing about the 2013 Hawks, James R. Seeds, MD, is here to go over some of the most common injuries and how they can be prevented.

8 common (and serious) hockey injuries

Head: concussions
Shoulder: broken collarbone, shoulder separation/dislocation
Elbow: inflammation (bursitis)
Wrist: fracture due to falling on an outstretched hand
Thumb: ligament injury when thumb is forced away from the hand
Hip and Groin: muscle strains
Knee: ligament injury
Back: lower back pain/pulled muscles
Prevention tips

  • Have a pre-season examination by a Sports Medicine Physician. On a related note, you can contact Dr. Seeds’ practice, Midwest Bone & Joint Institute, at (847) 931-5300.
  • Know the symptoms of a concussion. NEVER return to the ice until medically evaluated and cleared.
  • Never step onto the ice without a properly fitting helmet complete with full facial protection (facemask) to help avoid concussions, cuts, broken teeth, neck and eye injuries.
  • Wear cushioned elbow pads to minimize injury due to frequent hits to the elbow.
  • Tuck the tongue of the skate under the shin pad to protect the ankle from potential lower leg lacerations caused by skate blades.
  • Protect hands with quality hockey gloves that fit properly and provide the necessary support for the thumb.
  • Attempt to break falls by bracing against the boards using the forearm rather than an outstretched hand.
  • Always keep the head up and try to use the shoulder blade or hip/buttock area to protect the neck when making contact with the boards.
  • Protect knees by wearing reinforced shin guards with padding over the knee area.
    Avoid dropping the shoulder when colliding with the boards.
  • Wear hockey pants with shock-reducing padding.
  • Stretch before and after practice.
  • Always wear the properly sized shoulder pads that provide appropriate cushioning to protect from forceful blows to the shoulder area.
  • Participate in a hockey-specific conditioning program that includes strengthening of the neck muscles.
  • If injured, have a post-injury evaluation by a qualified Sports Medicine Physician. Always follow recommended treatments and timelines regarding a safe time to return to the ice.

James R. Seeds, MD holds a double board certification in both Orthopeodic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He was fellowship trained in Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute (Birmingham, AL) in the company of internationally renowned surgeons Dr. Lawrence Lemak and Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Seeds is a partner at the Midwest Bone & Joint Institute (Algonquin, Barrington, Elgin and Geneva, IL).