Field hockey is one of the most popular non-contact sports. Like every other sport, the players are exposed to injuries that can be classified as extrinsic and intrinsic injuries. Extrinsic injuries are injuries resulting from being hit by a hockey stick or ball while intrinsic injuries are as a result of internal force or injuries caused by overuse. Extrinsic injuries are less common for professional field hockey players considering most of the field hockey rules protect the players. Players are therefore most likely to suffer from intrinsic injuries.
Below are the 5 most common injuries that field hockey players are exposed to.
- Ankle Sprains
This is arguably the most common injury in field hockey. It occurs when the ankle ligament is torn as a result of the foot sole turning inwards or outwards in relation to the ankle especially on unstable ground. The ankle sprain has 3 grades depending on the severity of the injury. A mild sprain is grade 1 and involves a slight stretch of the fibers, partial tearing of the ligament is considered as a grade 2 ankle sprain while a complete tear of the ligament is referred to as a grade 3 ankle sprain.
- Knee Injuries
Knee Injuries are as a result of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL provides stability to the knee joint. ACL injuries can be very severe and may require surgery to completely heal. These injuries are common to field hockey players because they are a result of deceleration, sudden rotation, or hyperextension which is very common in the sport. The type of playing surface can contribute to knee injuries depending on the resistance of the playing field when the player tries to come o a complete stop or sudden rotation.
- Hamstring Injuries
The hamstring is made of three muscles at the backside of the thigh between the hip and the knee. Hamstring injuries are normally caused by short spurts of speed especially when the player does not warm up before the game. It can also be caused by a lack of flexibility of the hamstring muscles and the hip flexors.
- Groin Injuries
Groin injuries are primarily caused by straining the abdominal muscles, adductor muscles (inner thigh), and hip flexors. Field hockey involves sideways movement which frequently uses the inner thigh muscles which are susceptible to strain considering they are the less trained muscles. Groin injuries can be as a result of activities that cause explosive hip flexing such as sprinting, sudden twisting, and turning at high speed a practice very common in field hockey.
- Shin Splints
Shin splints refer to exertional leg pain common to field hockey players because of running on hard surfaces like artificial turf or uneven surfaces. Shin splints can also be as a result of repetitive bending and being excessively flat-footed.
Most of these injuries can be avoided by ensuring the player’s training routine includes warm-up and cool-down sessions. They can also be avoided by effectively stretching and following recommended practice exercises that condition muscles. In case of any injuries, it is also important to take time off to heal completely to avoid going back to the sidelines. Have an injury-free season!