The Most Common Ice Hockey Injuries

Updated on March 25, 2021

There is no denying ice hockey is a dangerous sport. Players skate around the rink at 20 miles per hour armed with sticks while hitting the vulcanized rubber puck over 100 miles per hour. It is no surprise injuries are common in ice hockey.

Our very own Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the first team we look for in the NHL betting markets, have three players nursing injuries on the sidelines at the time of writing this article. The Penguins have seen 17 of its players hit by injury from January 1, 2021, through to March 25, 2021.

“Pittsburgh Penguins” by NHL  is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

A study published on the British Journal of Sports Medicine website revealed how prevalent ice hockey injuries are. Dr. Markku Tuominen and his team recorded all the injuries in men’s International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship tournaments over seven years. A total of 844 matches involved 303 different teams consisting of 6,666 players who took to the ice. The findings are pretty startling.

The study recorded 528 injuries caused during a game and an additional 27 injuries that occurred during practice. An injury rate of 14.2 injuries per 1,000 player-games shows how dangerous the sport can be. Body checking, which is frequent in the sport, along with contact from the players’ sticks and the puck, accounted for 60.7% of injuries.

Knees were the most frequently injured lower body part, with the shoulder commonly injured when looking at the upper body. Unsurprisingly, arenas with flexible boards and glass surrounding the rink helped reduce injuries by 29%.

Thankfully, for the players, the majority (53.8%) of injuries were acute, allowing players to return to play within one week. However, 14.5% of injuries sustained resulted in the player spending at least three weeks in recovery.

The Most Common Ice Hockey Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common in ice hockey; most are caused by colliding with the boards and glass around the rink. Injuries to the Acromio Clavicular joint (AC joint), particularly sprains to the joint’s ligaments, tend to be damaged through a fall onto the tip of the shoulder, but hockey players damage theirs through frequent collisions.

“Jarg” by NHL  is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injuries make up the vast majority of ice hockey players’ knee injuries. The MCL links the thigh bone and the shinbone and is easily sprained when the knee is twisted or subject to an opponent’s force during sport.

The very nature of ice hockey makes MCL injuries commonplace. Skaters are twisting and turning throughout a game and have to stop suddenly and change direction rapidly. A skate planted in the ice and an opponent clattering into them is the perfect grounds for an MCL injury.

Hockey players wrap up their ankles to give them extra support, but high ankle injuries are right up there with the most frequent injuries. Like MCL injuries, ankle syndesmosis often occurs when the skater is turning quickly, with one skate planted firmly on the ice. The foot twists outwards, resulting in ligament damage to the joint between the Tibia and Fibula, a section of the ankle not protected by the player’s skate.

The study alluded to early found 14% of the injuries it recorded were fractured bones. Clavicle fractures made up the vast majority of this injury type. This injury goes hand-in-hand with the AC joint sprains and is generally caused by falls on the ice or collisions with the boards and opponents.

Concussions make up almost 10% of injuries, although the actual figure is thought to be much higher. Players want to continue playing even if they have taken a sharp blow to the head, and concussion-related symptoms may not show for several hours or even days after the injury occurs. Checks from opponents cause most concussion-causing injuries. Suffering a blow from a stick or the puck generally results in a laceration or contusion and not a dangerous concussion.

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