How to Prevent and Treat Common Ice Hockey Injuries

injured hockey players
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Ice hockey injuries are common and range from minor annoying aches and pains to serious traumas. Ice hockey injuries are generally defined as either chronic (overuse) injuries or acute (traumatic) injuries.

Overuse injuries are cumulative aches and pains that occur over time and can often be prevented with appropriate training and rest. Traumatic injuries are often accidents that occur suddenly and can't be avoided but may require immediate first aid.

For both recreational and professional ice hockey players, it's essential to wear appropriate ice hockey safety equipment including helmets, pads and protective gear, to reduce both the risk and severity of injury. Even so, a hockey player may still sustain an injury on the ice.

The Most Common Ice Hockey Injuries

Hard body checks, player collisions, forced collisions with the walls and ice, and direct blows from the puck, flying sticks, and skates all add up to injuries and underscore the inherent danger of ice hockey.

Statistics indicate that the large majority of ice hockey injuries are caused by direct trauma during games.

Muscle Cramps

A cramp is a sudden, intense pain caused by a muscle involuntarily and forcibly contracting and not relaxing. Strenuous exercise or dehydration may contribute to the development of muscle cramps.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

This is the sort of muscle soreness experienced from 12 to 48 hours following a tough workout or game. Getting enough rest often is all you need to recover.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are the most common type of hockey injury. The best immediate treatment for sprains and strains is the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Cuts and Lacerations

Cuts and scrapes to the head and face also top the list of hockey injuries, but using helmets with a full face shield has reduced the severity and frequency of these injuries.

Bruises and Contusions

Flying skaters, sticks and pucks, along with the many collisions on the ice frequently leave hockey players tending a variety of bruises and contusions.

Overtraining Syndrome

Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who train beyond the body's ability to recover.

Head, Neck, and Shoulder Injuries

  • Black eye
  • Concussion
  • Fractured clavicle (shoulder)
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Shoulder separation
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Whiplash
  • Neck strain
  • Burner or stinger of the neck

Knee and Leg Injuries

Foot and Ankle Injuries

  • Ankle sprains
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Blisters

Hand Injuries

  • Wrist sprains
  • Finger fractures
  • Wrist tendinitis

Back Injuries

  • Muscle strains of the back
  • Low back pain
  • Herniated disks

Tips for Preventing Injuries

Experts agree that wearing appropriate safety equipment—such as helmets, mouth guards, and protective pads—can reduce the risk of serious ice hockey injuries.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.