With the popularity of minor hockey in Canada, the need to prevent injuries in our young athletes becomes an important discussion. Hockey ranks as one of the top three causes for sports-related injuries in children. But, something as simple as warming up before a game, and warming up correctly, can prevent or lessen the seriousness of some of the most common injuries from ice hockey like:
Separated shoulders or broken collarbones
Inflamed elbow joints
Groin or hip flexor strains
Pulled ligaments or muscles
Proper safety equipment is an important factor, but so it proper physical training. Warm-ups are a key component of conditioning and should precede each game and practice in order to:
Raise your body and tissue temperature to increase your heart and respiratory rate
Increase your blood flow and metabolic process
Decrease the amount of resistance in tissue, which allows for a greater range of movement
Reduce the risk of muscle and tendon pulls
According to Hockey Canada, to be effective a good warm-up should raise your body temperature and affect as many muscle groups as possible. It should also be made up of both general and sport-specific exercises, and include both an off-ice and on-ice warm-up, as well as a cool-down. For examples of a variety of off- and on-ice warm ups, visit: www.onlyhockeytraining.com
It’s recommended that each warm-up consist of the following:
General total body warm-up – low intensity aerobic exercise, such as jogging or skipping off-ice and skating circles or cross-overs on-ice.
Dynamic warm-up – controlled exercises that take joints and muscles through their entire range of motion, such as jumping jacks or burpees off-ice and trunk rotations or shoulder extension stretches on ice. Click here for an example of an effective dynamic warm-up, off-ice.
Speed, agility and quickness warm-up – hockey-specific exercises, such hopping or pattern drills off ice and skating or puck handling speed drills on ice.
The cool-down is the opposite of the warm-up, but just as important. It helps the body recover following exercise by reducing muscle soreness, helping the body get rid of waste, preventing blood pooling and reducing adrenaline levels. The cool-down usually involves 5–10 minutes of light aerobic activity and stretching.
For more information on hockey safety, visit the Hockey Canada’s Safety Program resource page.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (2010) STOP SPORTS INJURIES — Keeping Kids in the Game for Life. Taken from www.STOPSportsInjuries.org
Hockey Canada (2017) Stretching Information Guide. Hockey Canada Safety Program. Taken from https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/Hockey-Programs/Safety/Essentials/Downloads.aspx
Mendes, Ian (2014) “Kids’ sports in Canada: All new stats for parents.” Today’s Parent. June 10.
Kintec (2015) 5 Common Hockey Injuries. November 4.