Hockey season is underway, and as we all enjoy cheering on our favourite team, the health impacts from injuries for those who take to the ice as players can be very significant.
Hockey is one of the fastest team sports, with players skating up to 60 km/h and hockey pucks flying up and down the rink at 160 km/h, so injuries are bound to happen. Even in “non-contact” games there are slips and falls into rigid boards, goal posts, skate blades and hockey sticks. We often talk about the risks of concussions in impact sports, but consider what the financial impact could be of high-risk injuries that can take you out of the game – and take healthcare dollars out of your pocket.
Getting active with hockey can be great for your health (even if it puts you at risk for injury):
- The fast pace of the game can help burn a huge number of calories. Each player burns about 0.061 calories per pound, per minute.
- It helps you develop your cardiovascular system, as you breathe hard and work to supply your muscles with oxygen.
- Starting and stopping – skating fast then resting on the bench – is like high intensity interval training, which can boost your metabolism.
- You develop your leg muscles, such as the hamstrings, calves and hip flexor muscles and build endurance in your triceps, forearms and shoulder muscles.
- You can improve your bone strength, balance and hand-eye coordination, making you more agile and less prone to injury.
- Exercise releases endorphins and can improve your mood and relieve stress.
Like any sport, hockey can result in injuries and unexpected healthcare costs – even when you are just playing for fun and fitness. Consider these risks:
- Dental Injuries
Did you know that up to 39% of all sports injuries are dental related? They are common in ice hockey. Mouth guards can slip and a wayward puck, stick or elbow puts you at risk of having teeth knocked out or having your jaw broken. A cracked or fractured tooth and root makes drinking and eating painful. Most dental injuries will be visible but some are not, which is why you should consult a dentist (and have insurance in place).
This is probably the most common but least reported hockey injury because it can occur from even a small trauma to the head caused by a stick or elbow. Symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, problems balancing, and mood changes may persist for a couple of days or up to several months. You may require prescription drugs and therapy – which can be covered by health insurance.
- Knee Injuries
Overstretching the ligament of your knee can happen when another player falls into you or you have an awkward fall onto the ice or into the boards. It also happens with a quick change in direction that stresses your knee. It’s painful – and can also require prescription medication, a knee brace and therapy which can be costly unless health insurance is in place.
- Ankle injuries
Skate bite (a.k.a. lace bite) is ankle pain from inflamed tendons resulting from stiff, poorly broken in new skates or older skates whose tongue has become inflexible. More commonly, when your skate gets stuck in the ice or against the boards and your foot twists outwards you can have a “high ankle sprain” that can take weeks to heal. In severe cases you can fracture lower leg bones and may even need durable medical equipment like a cane or wheelchair to help you get around (which may be covered by your health insurance).
- Upper extremity injuries
Fingers can be easily fractured. Sprains, strains, dislocations, lacerations, and contusions are common on shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. Bone or cartilage damage can cause pain – needing medication and therapy – for days, months and even years. Overuse or trauma to the elbow can cause bursitis – swelling and tenderness – that may require antibiotics. Prescription drug coverage is vital.
Beyond providing prescription drug coverage, consider supplemental health insurance as your “hat trick” of protection (just like getting three goals in a game) with options like
- Dental coverage
- Accidental Dental to repair or replace natural teeth which were damaged as a result of a blow to the mouth is included with extended health benefits
- Basic dental coverage for preventative cleaning, polishing and scaling, routine examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions and root canal therapy
- Major services for full or partial dentures, crown or onlay restorations, bridges
- Orthodontic Services to straighten teeth and correct bite
- Therapy coverage
- Chiropractor, footcare specialists (Chiropodist/Podiatrist), Naturopath, Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Acupuncturist and Registered Massage Therapist (RMT).
- Durable Equipment coverage
- Aids for daily living including braces, casts, custom foot orthotics, canes, crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs
Don’t let any hockey injuries linger because of out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The sooner you have health insurance in place, the sooner you can deal with them and the sooner you can be back on the ice! Call us today.