As winter approaches, ponds will be freezing and players will be in the middle of their hockey season. For some, skating is a recreational activity that starts once the water freezes. It is very tempting to just throw on your skates, get out there, and start playing. However, numerous injuries can occur when people start skating for the first time since the previous year. Once you are out on the ice there can be several possible orthopedic injuries due to falling.
While the temperature continues to drop, this is the ideal time to get your muscles tuned up for the upcoming skating season. Skating requires multiple different muscle groups than normal daily activities or even typical exercising. It places high demand on core, hip and knee musculature. These are some exercises that will help you prepare for skating—squats, lunges, side shuffling sprints, and sit ups just to name a few. Skating or playing pond hockey requires quick bursts of speed, and if your muscles are not ready, the result can be muscle spasms, hamstring strains or muscle tears. In conjunction with muscle strengthening and conditioning, stretching is another preparation to consider prior to hitting the ice. The main muscles to stretch are hamstrings and quadriceps. Stretching and strengthening these muscles prior to skating will help to prevent injury.
In addition to muscular injuries, falls on the ice can lead to serious bone and joint injuries such as fractures, bone bruises, joint dislocations and head trauma. Specific equipment is the first line of defense when trying to prevent one of these major injuries. A helmet is the first important piece of equipment to help prevent concussions and other serious head traumas. Also suggested are elbow pads which will tremendously help to prevent bone bruising and severe broken bones.
For current hockey players, there are multiple exercises and training tactics to improve your game and keep you out on the ice. As a former hockey player, I have experienced that the two major focus areas to address would be core rotational strength and hip strengthening. To tackle these areas, make the exercises functional with a rotational component such as a lunge and turn with a medicine ball, or using a BOSU ball with a chop technique. There are many other exercises to focus on as well since sports-specific exercises can be tailored to each player’s individual needs. It might be helpful to consult with a physical therapist if you’re serious out there on the ice either as an athlete or a recreational skater.
Michael Demetriades DPT received his doctorate degree from Quinnipiac University and is a practicing therapist with Amity Physical Therapy’s Branford office. He has experience in working with patients of all ages and all types of injuries. He is a previous varsity hockey player, well versed in modern athletic injuries. Amity Physical Therapy was founded eleven years ago by Michael Dow MSPT. The practice has three offices in Woodbridge, Branford and Hamden. Michael Demetriades can be reached in Branford at 203-433-4683. Or visit www.amitypt.com.