Well, that was crazy. For the first time in over two decades, Vancouver was cold enough for its lakes and ponds to freeze deeply enough to skate safely on. As a born and bred Albertan, when I wasn’t in school I spent every waking hour on frozen lakes, ponds, and outdoor rinks playing hockey. It’s just how the rest of Canada does things in the winter time. You can imagine my excitement when I found out I could experience the winters of my childhood five minutes away from Kitsilano Beach. While it was extremely cool for Vancouverites to get a small taste of a real Canadian winter, there’s a good chance it’s been awhile since most of us have strapped on the skates and gone for a whirl on the ice. Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a rookie, here are some injuries you might need rehabbing after this week of real Canadiana.
For those new to skating, a fall is the most likely injury you can sustain. For figure skaters, it’s a fact of life and can be quite debilitating depending on where you land. Often, one will instinctively stretch an arm out to help break the fall, which commonly results in a wrist injury. This can range from a mild sprain to the wrist ligaments or a much more serious fracture. Knee injuries can also occur after a fall, leading to patellar malalignment, patellofemoral pain syndrome, ACL/MCL sprains, and the dreaded meniscus tear. Thankfully, ALL of these injuries can be treated easily with proper physiotherapy and a solid home exercise program. Tumbles that end with the head contacting the ice can produce a concussion, which must be taken very seriously. Pleae visit this link for more information on signs/symptoms related to concussions: https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/Hockey-Programs/Safety/Concussions/Facts-and-Prevention
For our more experienced skaters, repetitive overuse and high-speed impact injuries dominate. Due to the constrictive nature of a skate boot, repetitive loading/stretching of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia can cause subsequent tendinopathy and fasciopathy (that’s just fancy physio talk for sore feet/ankles). Those playing contact hockey have a much higher risk of MCL/ACL tears, hip labral tears, as well as the dreaded groin strain. If I had a nickel for every hockey player I’ve treated that had a recent groin injury…well you know the rest. This has implications for your hockey team’s performance as well. From 2010-2015, the Stanley Cup-winning team has been in the top five least-injured teams (according to man-games lost) during the regular season. In that same timeframe, the five most injured teams (with the exception of the Pittsburgh Penguins) had among the worst records and fewest postseason appearances. It is clear that injury rates play a huge part in the success of a team (unless you happen to be playing with Sidney Crosby). At Physio Room, we’re all about the team; so if you want to be a good teammate, try to stay healthy!
While you cannot always avoid an injury on the ice, there are numerous ways to prevent one. Visit one of our providers at Physio Room for a quick screen to determine if you have any muscular imbalances, faulty movement patterns, or biomechanical limitations that may put you at higher risk for a skating injury. Your physio will provide you with some prehab exercises and a proper warm-up routine to fire up those glutes and dynamic stabilizer muscles to decrease your chance at getting injured while playing.
Seeing a provider at Physio Room is a lot like getting on the ice when you never have or it’s been awhile. Novel, exhilarating and so, so different. You’ll be left wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.