There is nothing worse for an athlete than being sidelined with an injury. The reasons are numerous, but sometimes, depending on the cause, particular injuries could have been avoided. Keep yourself injury-free next hockey season by avoiding the following mistakes.
1. Insufficient Rest
Listening to your body is important; don't push it beyond its limits. Getting a full night's sleep has many mental and physical benefits for athletic performance. When you are physically achy but still want to work out, substitute floor stretching or a light workout.
2. Poor Nutrition
Although we all deserve to splurge now and then, condition yourself to make healthy food choices at every opportunity—to the point where you make them automatically. Think more about long-range benefits than short-term gratification. Avoiding foods with high sodium, saturated fats and refined sugar can have benefits to your health as well as positive sports performance impacts.
3. Incorrect Body Weight
When you're overweight, you not only reduce your stamina and endurance, you also place additional stress on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. On the other hand, being underweight can lead to low energy levels when you need peak performance, and to both metabolic and immune system problems. Maintaining an ideal weight range is difficult but not impossible. Regular exercise routines and smart food choices can make it a reality.
4. Improper Use or Care for Equipment
Not properly caring for equipment can lead to injury. Examples: failing to use proper safety protocols or protective gear when it's called for; neglecting to upgrade equipment; or failing to repair defective equipment. It's not uncommon for the inside lining of your skates to wear down, just when those bladed shoes are becoming comfortable! If you can't buy a new pair right away, purchase new inside shoe liners, or add Gorilla Glue tape to "re-line" the spots that have worn out. Gorilla Glue tape is also useful if your hockey stick has a hairline crack. That's a six dollar purchase versus $100 for a new stick—plus you get to use your favorite stick a bit longer. At the very least, today's equipment can be washed, and I strongly recommend doing so on a regular basis.
Years ago, kids learned that if a piece of equipment wasn't doing its job, some modification or customization might be called for. "Safety first" is the overarching theme, and hockey is no exception. Unlike professional players, most young athletes do not have training staff ready with on-the-spot equipment repairs, medical treatment for sore muscles and aching joints, and other physiological pains and discomforts caused by strenuous competition. In the sport of ice hockey, even some equipment sold today may be inadequate for preventing injuries to vulnerable parts of the body.
5. Substance Abuse
Using steroids to gain a physical edge has tremendous downsides, both short term and long term. Never use prescription or illicit drugs for casual purposes. Your best bet for preventing hockey injuries and improving athletic (and metabolic) performance is to stick with established and proven practices in rest, food, equipment and activities.
Photo Credit: star.com
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock