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Prevention is better than the cure – Interview with Beeston Hockey Club Physio

After my recent visit to Beeston Hockey club, I decided to delve further into the realms of the sport by investigating the types of hockey injuries that commonly occur.

There are approximately 1,050 hockey clubs across the UK, who all actively encourage new people to start playing the game. Schools and universities also have teams and are great ways to start your hockey journey. Participating in the sport is relatively inexpensive and equipment can often be borrowed from clubs. It is a team game, which provides social interaction and is a fantastic way to improve fitness and stay in shape. With all this in mind, it is easy to see why hockey is a sport on the up.

What are the most common hockey injuries

Probably lower back and hamstring related injuries. The guys spend a lot of time in a flexed and rotated position, so this can put quite a strain on the lower back and hamstrings. Thankfully at our level, the boys are generally quite diligent with their self management. They’ve all got foam rollers, and muscles that they know they need to work on with these, which probably means we don’t have quite as many injuries as other clubs might. Aside from that, the lads are always picking shredded fingers and broken nails etc!

What is the worst injury you have ever seen

I’ve actually been quite fortunate, in that I’ve never really had to deal with any serious injuries. I’m hoping to keep that track record, but you’ve obviously always got to be prepared for these things. I’m sure at lower levels of hockey there are a lot of impact injuries, and blood injuries. But the lads at this level are so quick and precise, that thankfully those injuries are rare. But given the speed at which the ball is played, I’ve heard a few horror stories of facial injuries generally. I know Kate Walsh broke her jaw during London 2012, and I’m sure that’s not uncommon.

Which area of the body takes the most strain when playing? Are men and women affected differently

As I mentioned previously, the hamstrings and lower backs are generally under quite a lot of strain in hockey. Hockey is quite a one sided game, so its important to find a balance between ensuring that any imbalances are addressed, but without compromising the players performance. I think we’re getting a lot better at this as a profession, by ensuring that we’re strengthening as well as lengthening.

The springy pitches can also cause a few ankle and knee issues now and again. I’ve just started working with the girls this season, and we’ve been doing some screening, which has been quite interesting. Its seems to be that their knees are under quite a lot of strain, largely due to their q-angle and glutes weakness. So we’ve started putting together individual programmes to address these weaknesses, in the hope that we can avoid any serious injuries such as ACL ruptures. Prevention is obviously a lot better than cure.

With all this in mind, I decided to provide aspiring and professional hockey players with some key safety advice…

Safety advice for Hockey Players

  • Players should undergo a fitness testing prior to their season
  • Players should routinely warm-up and cool down, including adequate stretching, before and after play.
  • Particular attention should be given to thoroughly warming-up and stretching the ankles, hips and lower back.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment.
  • Goalkeepers should wear a helmet and face guard during training and competition.
  • All players should wear shock absorbent shin guards during training, informal play and competition.
  • All players should wear properly fitted mouth guards to prevent dental injury.

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