Currently, the most common in-game injuries in field hockey consist of ankle sprains, fractures of the hand, and knee ligament injuries. However, 53-59% of players experience low back pain (LBP) during the season, with many of these players needing to sit out practices or games.1,2 There are a few easy things you can do to help decrease your risk of experiencing LBP as a field hockey player, at any skill level.
- Incorporate core strengthening exercises into your offseason program
Most athletes would benefit from improved core strength. By improving the core, it takes some stress off of the back and allows you to keep your spine in better positioning. Studies have shown that off-season training programs that include core strengthening have decreased the overall rate of LBP the following season.3 Some of the exercises you should consider including in your program are front and side planks, dead bugs, bird dogs, and kettle bell carry’s.
- Include trunk extensor endurance training
Off-season endurance training of back musculature has been shown to result in decreased occurrences of LBP the following season.3 These muscles are used throughout the game, to allow you stay in that forward crouched position. Ways to improve the endurance of these muscles include performing trunk extension on an exercise ball, performing superman’s, or laying on your stomach and lifting your chest off of the ground. With all of these, it is important to hold these positions for time, instead of a certain number of repetitions, in order to improve your endurance.
- Strengthen all hip musculature
Due to the constant requirements of a crouched position while playing field hockey, your hip musculature needs to be activated in order to take some stress off of your back.4 Make sure you have a complete program, targeting all muscles surrounding your hips. Good exercises to include are squats, single leg squats, lunges in multiple directions, lateral stepping with a resistance band, and single leg deadlifts. Make sure you are performing all of these with good form and focusing on both legs equally.
Although field hockey naturally puts an increased amount of stress on your back, pain is something that you do not have to live with. As with any musculoskeletal issue, it is better to address these issues as soon as possible, so that this does not become a chronic issue. If you are experiencing pain, you do not need a script in order to visit your local Sports PT clinic for an evaluation today!
- Dick R, Hootman J, Agel J, Vela L, Marshall S, & Messina R. Descriptive Epidemiology of Collegiate Women’s Field Hockey Injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, 1988-1989 Through 2002-2003. Journal of Athletic Training. 2007; 42(2): 211-220
- Wege M, Bester MM, & Crous LC. The Relevance of the Hip Extensor Muscles to Low Back Pain in Elite Female Field Hockey Players. SA Journal of Physiotherapy. 2006; 62(3): 21-26
- Clarke L. A comparison study between core stability and trunk extensor endurance training in the management of acute low back pain in field hockey players. Health Sciences. 2009
- Wege M, Bester MM, Crous LC, Kidd M, & Harley YXR. Hip extensor muscle strength in elite female field hockey players: kinanthropometry. African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation, and Dance. 2007; 13(2): 135-148