Physical Therapists Help Hockey Players Stay on the Ice

APTA Recommends Exercise Programs to Prevent Injuries

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 12, 2009 — The excitement of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs will inspire young players and weekend warriors to hit the ice. But, traveling up to 30 miles an hour on a quarter inch blade of steel and stopping instantly will put anyone at risk for injury. According to American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson Mark Mortland, PT, ATC, team physical therapist of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there are special precautions one can take to help avoid the multiple injuries that can occur in this high-speed, high-impact sport.

Whether due to impact or overuse, the range of ice hockey-related injuries varies greatly, almost more so than any other sport. "At the professional level, we do not see 'common injuries' because the whole body is susceptible to injury due to the nature of the game," said Mortland "However, because these are pro athletes, they have access to higher levels of care than the ordinary, casual player. That said, there are steps young players and weekend warriors can take to help avoid getting hurt."

APTA and Mortland recommend an exercise regimen that includes a dynamic warm-up, cool down, and overall core strengthening to help prevent injuries that keep you off the ice:

  • Dynamic warm-up: Warming up should include a combination of dry floor and ice exercises. On the dry floor, running in place, lunges, high knee exercises (high, fast marching movements), and static stretching (stretching while standing in place) can be used to prepare for the game. On the ice, players should combine warm-up laps and sprints.

  • Post-game / post-practice cool down:
    It is important to stretch the muscles while they are still warm. Focus on static stretches (stretching while standing in place) of large muscle groups such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, and hips.

  • Overall core strength:
    Developing strong abdominal muscles (crunches, sit-ups, and other core exercises) can help to avoid low back pain, a common injury often a result of the crouched positions of the players. Core strength also helps players better handle the crushing impacts one can endure during an enthusiastic game of hockey.

"The important thing to remember is that a proper exercise regimen can help prevent a variety of injuries that can result from any activity, aside from high-impact sports like ice hockey," concluded Mortland. Physical therapists work with individuals to design specific exercise and treatment programs to cater to their specific needs. See your physical therapist for an individualized program or visit www.moveforwardpt.com to find a physical therapist near you.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.

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