Hockey: How to Reduce the Incidence of Groin & Abdominal Injuries in Early-Season Hockey

Hockey: How to Reduce the Incidence of Groin & Abdominal Injuries in Early-Season Hockey

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Does pre-season conditioning really help hockey players reduce the likelihood of injury? Absolutely!

And it doesn't take much to achieve some injury protection. A study involving NHL players has shown a huge decrease in groin and abdominal injuries among players who perform simple pre-season skating sessions -- whether on ice or dry-land.

The Study
The study involved 1557 players from 27 NHL teams. Incidence of groin and abdominal injury during training camp was tracked, along with the number of sport-specific pre-season training sessions the players had performed.

The groin and abdominal injuries -- a major problem among hockey players -- included any muscle strain injury involving the hip flexor, hip adductor or abdominal muscles. Hernias were included, and the injuries were reported if they were serious enough to cause a missed practice or game.

The pre-season sport-specific training sessions were not necessarily complicated. They involved only 30 minutes or more of ice skating, hockey scrimmaging, in-line skating or work on a skating machine or slider board.

It was found that players who performed 18 pre-season skating sessions were three times less likely to sustain a groin or abdominal injury during training camp than those who performed fewer sessions!

Eighteen sessions was considered the optimal minimum in terms of groin and abdominal injury prevention. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to achieve -- it's the equivalent of only three half-hour skating sessions per week for six weeks.

It was also found that players who had sustained a groin or abdominal injury in the previous year were twice as likely to sustain another injury.

Skating may be the last thing your hockey players are thinking about during the heat of the summer. But they should get themselves out on their skates, roller blades or slider boards in advance of their training camp. Research has show that it will dramatically reduce their chance of injury.

This is particularly important for players who have a history of groin and abdominal strains.

Reference: Carolyn Emery & Willem Meeuwisse (Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary), Risk Factors For Groin Injuries In Hockey, Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 2001.

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