Injury Prevention for Ice Hockey Part IV: Case Studies!
This is our fourth, and final, piece to the Injury Prevention for ice hockey Series. Today, I would like to look at several snapshots and evaluate risk of injury based on what we have discussed so far. If you haven’t seen the 3 previous posts in this series, please go back and visit them here:
- Part I: An overview of topics, common causes of injury, and biomechanics as a factor to consider in preventing injuries.
- Part II: A deeper discussion of biomechanics and the “physics” of injury prevention.
- Part III: Tools you can use to begin injury prevention at home (a collection of favorites)
As we have learned, the “central cylinder” is often forgotten, but is incredibly important in prevention of injury. Today, we are looking at only a snapshot, a moment in time, so many factors will be unaccounted for: speed of collision, the players knowledge of the coming hit/ability to brace for impact, and much more. Accordingly, this is not intended to be an all-inclusive evaluation, but rather a visual demonstration and application of the concepts previously discussed.
Let’s take a brief look at 2 case studies:
In the photo above, the solid lines represent the approximate angle of the ribcage and the pelvis (each is estimated through padding and clothes). The dashed lines represent the approximate front and back edge of the ribcage and the pelvis.
In an ideal position for impact, the lines should create a perfect rectangle (similar to the red lines on the Maple Leaves player (white jersey). Based solely on factors we can evaluate from the photo, I would propose that the player on the left is at higher risk of injury.
Notice the player on the left has an “open scissor” position of ribcage and pelvis. In other words, the solid lines are not parallel and if continued out further to the left, they would intersect. The dashed lines demonstrate a good position of the ribcage relatively on top of the pelvis.
Like the previous photo, the solid lines represent the approximate angle of the ribcage and the pelvis (each is estimated through padding and clothes). The dashed lines represent the approximate front and back edge of the ribcage and the pelvis.
We see some similarities between this case and Case 1. In this photo, the player on the right has a very large angle between ribcage and pelvis (solid lines), whereas the left hand player keeps the two parallel. In this case, both players have a ribcage position offset from the pelvis (dashed lines that do not match up). I would venture a guess that the left hand player started close to proper position, but the force of the impact is causing the offset. Let’s explore that further.
The ability to absorb force and allow impact to occur may, at various times, require “breaking” from the proper position we have been discussing. The major key is about control: can the player control the offset, allowing the tissue structures to bend, flex and stretch as they were designed? Or does the player lose position so haphazardly that the tissue structures are yanked, tugged, and pulled at abrupt and aggressive increments? Can you see where controlling your positioning is also an important aspect of injury prevention?
In this case, I believe that the right hand player has an increased risk of injury over the left hand player. Furthermore, when comparing Case 1 players and Case 2 players, I believe the player at highest risk of injury is the right hand player in Case 2. This does not guarantee he will become injured, but it does warrant some attention to help him achieve longevity in his career.
Thank you so much for following us through this 4 Part Series about injury prevention for ice hockey. I hope you have found it helpful, not only in application to the sport of hockey, but more fully in application to Injury Prevention in general. I am a firm believer that with sports, as with all great things in life, risk is inherent. Nothing can be predicted fully. Nobody has a crystal ball. However, it is our task, as players, coaches, and medical professionals, to control and improve as many factors as we can. Let’s stop waiting for injuries to happen and instead, “Get to the Root of the Problem.”