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Olympic Sport Highlight: Hockey

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Hockey is an exciting Olympic sport that originated in Canada in the early 19th century. Men’s ice hockey has been a staple in the Olympics since the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, while women’s ice hockey was added in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Once you have mastered the difficult skill of learning how to ice skate, hockey is a great sport that offers many health benefits for both the professional athlete and the casual skater. Hockey is a great way to burn calories, work the cardiovascular system, and strengthen muscles in the core, gluteus, hamstrings and calves. Developing these muscles helps to build endurance for the game.

Hockey Injuries

Someone who is very familiar with hockey injuries is Tara Mounsey (pictured above), NEBH orthopedic nurse practitioner and Olympic athlete. Despite several significant knee injuries and subsequent surgeries, Tara went on to win a gold medal at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano Japan and a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Because hockey is a collision sport, many injuries occur from contact with other players, the stick, the puck, and the boards. Non-contact injuries can occur from overuse or acute trauma, and include bruises, muscle pulls and ligament tears and cuts. Common serious injuries include broken teeth, concussions, broken bones, dislocations, and spine and spinal cord injuries.

Hockey Injury Prevention

Before you play your first game, make sure you have mastered basic skating skills, for instance skating forward and backward, and the ability to stop. Warming up either on or off the ice prior to engaging in a game or practice is also helpful in preventing injuries. Additionally, it is important to have the necessary equipment.

Equipment includes:

  • Helmet with facemask
  • Mouth guard
  • Face shield
  • Shoulder pads
  • Elbow pads
  • Gloves
  • Jersey
  • Pants-which include girdle and shell
  • Cups and supporter
  • Shin guards
  • Socks
  • Skates
  • Stick

Goalies should have additional protection, including:

  • Leg pads
  • Catch glove
  • Blocker
  • Chest and arm protector
  • Helmet with face mask
  • Goalie skates and stick
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