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Hockey is known for a high level of contact, which can cause injury. While hockey players were a significant amount of padding to cut down on injuries it is still possible to experience a traumatic injury to a variety of different body parts. In general, the number of hockey injuries increases the longer the player is on the ice. However, most hockey injuries are relatively mild.

Hockey players are prone to injuries that affect the entire body. This includes the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, back, hip, and knees. The most common hockey injuries are muscle strains, ligament injuries like sprains or tears, bruises, contusions, cuts and abrasions, bursitis, and fractures.


The incidence and severity of hockey injuries are related to several factors:

  • The level of participation
  • Player position
  • Protective equipment
  • Violent behavior
  • Personal susceptibility of the player due to pre-existing injuries
  • Style of play

Risk Factors

There are intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for injury. Intrinsic factors are a child’s individual musculoskeletal issues, which can include skeletal immaturity (bones and joints that are still developing) or muscle weakness. Extrinsic factors are the environment in which an athlete performs, which can include the level of competition: how much, how hard and how long play lasts.

Other common risk factors for hockey injuries include

  • Concussion can occur as a result of traumatic impact of the player’s head either with the ice, the boards, the stick, or another player.
  • The most common shoulder injury in hockey is a shoulder separation or clavicle fracture occurring from direct contact.
  • A fall on an outstretched wrist that forces the wrist back can result in a wrist fracture.
  • Hip flexor and groin injuries can be related to the stride of the skater.
  • The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is the most vulnerable to injury due to the position of the knee when hockey players push off during skating.

Prevention and Performance

Playing by the rules, and wearing the proper equipment is critical to preventing hockey injuries. In addition to contact-related injuries, players also need to guard against injuries that can occur as a result of poor conditioning, or being unprepared for the level of activity.

Other ways to avoid injury include

  • The player should have a pre-season screening by a sports health professional to identify any existing injuries and potential risk areas of risk.
  • A pre-season, sports-specific conditioning program will enhance performance and decrease the risk of injury.
  • Players should use high-quality hockey equipment that fits properly and is not damaged or worn.
  • Strict enforcement of the rules will help decrease the risk of injury.
  • Avoiding dangerous tactics will decrease the risk of serious injury.
  • The use of elbow pads that fit well, have an opening for the elbow, soft padding, and a plastic outer shell will decrease the risk of elbow injuries from contact with the ice, boards, or another player.
  • To avoid wrist injuries the player should attempt to brace against the boards using the elbows and not the hands.
  • Hockey pants with reinforced padding at the hips can prevent hip pointer or tronchantaric bursitis from a direct blow to the hip


  • Did you know that hockey injuries occur more frequently in games than in practice?
  • Did you know that as the level of participation increases so do injuries?
  • Did you know that the majority of hockey injuries are categorized as mild?

Common Conditions

  • Muscle strain
  • Ligament sprains
  • Shoulder separation
  • Fractured clavicle
  • Bruises
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Contusions
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) knee injury
  • Elbow bursitis
  • Wrist fracture
  • Hip strain
  • Groin strain
  • Hip flexor strain
  • Hip pointer
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Meniscus tears

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