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The FIH Pro League rages on. Does competition increase injury risk and how do we manage this?
With less than 50 days to go until the finale of the FIH Pro League, participating teams are still battling it out for a place at the Grand Final. For the men’s teams, May has already seen victories for Spain and Australia. For the women’s teams, Argentina has had a strong start, beating both the USA and Australia.
This weekend, Great Britain’s men and women battle Argentina and Belgium, along with the US women’s team facing off against China. Anticipation for Olympic qualification continues to rise, but with training and competition demands reaching their peak, injury risk rises unless managed properly.
Improper injury management increases the chance of injury no what level of competition you compete in. Taken away from the sport they love, injuries can be highly frustrating for athletes.
Let’s take a look at some common hockey injuries and good rehabilitation practice so you can keep you - and your head - in the game.
Common hockey injuries
Hockey is a mess of legs, arms, and sticks flailing about. So injuries can occur at any time. On and off the field you often see:
Knee problems - The fast-paced twisting nature of hockey can cause ligament and cartilage damage.
Ankle sprains - Rolling the ankle is very common and can leave you on the sideline for weeks.
Groin injuries - Side-to-side movement requires strength and power in the groin. It’s often undertrained for the demands of hockey, which increases the chance of strain.
Hamstring issues - Rapid acceleration and lack of development or flexibility in the hamstring are usually the culprit. In extreme cases, recovery time could take around 6 to 12 months.
Dental and mouth damage - Without mandatory protection and a reliable mouthguard, these horrific injuries would be much more common and severe.
The urge to rush back into training can cause further problems down the line and should be avoided at all costs. Practising patience, despite the desire to start playing again, can be beneficial in the long-term. It also applies to the rehab exercises set by your physio. Continue with them after recovery to turn your previous weaknesses into strengths and greatly reduce your risk of re-injury.
A proper warm-up before training or competition should go without saying. With better blood flow to the muscles, you have a greater range of movement and are better prepared for the rigorous demands of hockey.
Taking the time to focus on flexibility and relieve excess muscle tension is often forgotten. Regular stretching, massages, and foam rolling are just some of the methods to do this.
Avoid hardcore training that your body isn’t conditioned for. Make regular progressive improvements in training. This can be accompanied by a strength training program, ideally specific to the demands of hockey. Muscular imbalances can be corrected and preventable injuries are kept to an absolute minimum.
Extra effort and diligence in both injury prevention and rehabilitation go a long way. It keeps you on the field, enjoying the game you love. Or, if you’re sitting on the sidelines, you can rest assured you’re doing everything you can to get back into the action.
As the official mouthguard supplier to GB Hockey, with us, you can train and compete at your best without the worry of dental injury. If you participate in hockey - or any form of ball, stick, or contact sport - make sure you’re equipped with one of our self-fit sports mouthguards. You can shop by sport, level of protection, or age here.