Field hockey is played globally and is recognised as one of the oldest sports. Players are required to have great fitness levels and agility to move rapidly and change directions when needed.
The risk of lower body injuries in hockey is present because of the dynamic nature of the sport and that players (with the exception of the goalkeeper) have to frequently bend over during playtime. By having a better understanding of how the lower body functions, players can improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Common Field Hockey Injuries
Field hockey has evolved over the years in terms of rules, surfaces and equipment. Today, it is played on natural grass, artificial turf and indoors. These changes have had an effect on the types of injuries observed in players.
The position of the player and playing style can also determine the types and frequency of injuries. For example, studies show that midfielders and defenders, the two most active positions, have the highest number of injuries compared to strikers and goalkeepers.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Applied Sports Science established that the most frequently injured parts of the lower body in 75 field hockey players were the thighs and hip. Players also reported cases of low back pain and cramps of the hamstring muscles.
Another study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine highlights that a player’s history of injury followed by age and weak hip muscles are the most significant risk factors contributing to lower body injuries in hockey.
Poor physical conditioning, improper rehabilitation, limited movement and an early return to play following injury can also increase the risk of injury. Proper hip movement is very important in hockey and weak hip muscles can impact the overall performance of a player.
Foot Posture and Injury Risk
Recreational and professional hockey players with poor foot posture may be at a greater risk of injuries during playtime. A player with flat feet, for example, may experience more stress on the knees, legs, hips and lower back.
This is because when the foot arch collapses, it causes the shin and thigh bones to twist internally, leading to abnormal movement of the lower body. The posture misalignment that results from this can affect the form and technique of a player. With repeated stress on the lower body and poor alignment, problems may gradually develop in the legs, hips and lower back.
Treatment and Supportive Care
Dynamic warm-ups and stretching exercises should be incorporated both during training and before a match. Personalised training programmes should be considered based on the player’s history of injuries. Strengthening the hip muscles through active rehabilitation is also important to improve hip movement.
MASS4D® insoles support the feet in their optimal posture to promote proper alignment and reduce abnormal movement of the lower body, especially the hips.
MASS4D® foot orthotics can be beneficial as part of an active rehabilitation programme to promote proper function of the feet. This can help players recover faster and reduce risk of injuries caused by excessive stress and misalignment of the lower body.
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Reference: Badr, M. A. M. A. A., Gaballah, A. M. A. (2015) Common Injuries among Male Field Hockey Players According to Playing Positions. Journal of Applied Sports Science: March 2015, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 19-26.
Reference: Ryan, J., DeBurca, N., Creesh, K. M. (2014) Risk Factors for Groin/Hip Injuries in Field-based Sports: A Systematic Review. British Journal of Sports Medicine: May 2014, Vol. 48, No. 14. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092263
Pilates refers to a series of exercises that target the core – the abdomen, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thigh, and so on. The movements involved in pilates also help to improve flexibility and posture while promoting core stability.