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How Did We Get Here? - Hip and Groin Pain in Hockey Players

If you missed the first part of this series, go ahead and click here to get an overview of what I mean when I’m talking about hip and groin pain.

Why are hip and groin injuries in youth hockey on the rise?

  • The number of games kids play in a season these days is NUTS!

  • Weight training and learning how to move effectively takes a back seat to skill development

  • Kids hide aches/pains from their coaches and parents to avoid being benched

  • Physical Therapy/rehab SUCKS at helping hockey players

“When I was 16, I think I played about 115 games in a season between high school and AAA hockey.” - A player I’m currently working with.

An NHL season is 82 games with a total number of possible games being 110 (if every playoff series went 7 games). We have 16 year olds playing more games in a shorter time period than NHL players. That is a BIG problem, but it's not the only problem contributing to the high prevalence of groin and hip pain in hockey players.

In addition to the volume of games, our youth athletes (across all sports) are not being adequately prepared for their sports. With the intensity, skill, and demands of youth sports exploding in the past couple decades, the need for high quality weight training programs is at an all time high. Unfortunately, weight training and high quality movement usually takes a back seat to skill development. The number of teenage hockey players that I see who can barely balance on one leg, have hips so stiff they can’t squat, have lifting programs that are designed for a football player, or have simply never been on a consistent weight training and conditioning programming is astounding - but not surprising.

If you played a sport growing up, especially a contact sport like hockey, you probably played through pain and maybe even hid true injuries to avoid having to sit out. In my 16 year old brain, I remember thinking that unless the coach pulls me off the field, I’m going to be out there. This mentality can serve athletes well and teach them to persevere when things are getting tough, but the biggest con of this mentality is that it can allow a small ache/pain to develop into a larger more complicated injury. If you take away one thing from this book it should be this

“Don’t let small problems turn into big problems”

If you/your kid/ a player on your team is dealing with a small ache or pain, get it evaluated ASAP!

When a player ends up sustaining one of the injuries we discussed earlier in the book, the care they receive will be an absolute toss up. In some instances, a player will get lucky and get a medical team that gets them back on track ASAP. However, the majority of the time, the providers treating youth hockey players simply don’t understand the demands of the game well enough. This is especially true of physical therapists, even if they work at big name facilities or “sport medicine” practices. PTs at these practices are generally really good at helping players in the early stages of rehab, but tend to have difficulty in later stages of rehab with providing high-level return to play programs that are specific to hockey.

If your hockey player is struggling with hip or groin pain, you can reach Dr. Dave at Blue Iron Physio by email or by call/text at 201-431-0828.

Best, Dr. Dave

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