Why are there so many ankle injuries in hockey – Andy McDonald

The St. Louis Blues are to hockey what the Cincinnati Bengals are to football. They have had some good, solid years, but they can never seem to put it together. This year is no different, they have lost 7 in a row and can’t seem to catch a break. Well, Andy McDonald can. He broke his ankle in a game against the Montreal Canadians. He went into the boards and came out with a broken ankle. No luck for the Blues or Andy McDonald.

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Broken ankles aren’t anything to mess with. We’ve discussed how to treat a broken ankle in the past, but I wanted to take the time to add some more information about it, specifically how hockey players are at an increased risk of ankle injuries.

Whenever a bone is broken there are three things involved:

  1. Fracture or crack: When a bone breaks it can either fracture or crack. Whenever you hear the term fracture about a bone it’s broken. Fractures are slight breaks, while cracked bones are broken in two. Fractures are easier to treat than cracked bones in most cases.
  2. Pressure: Bones are very strong. Based on their weight they are some of the strongest naturally occurring things in the world. Bones do a great job of providing strength through soft and hard construction. When they break it’s due to outside pressure, force or trauma that exposes the weakness in the bones.
  3. Healing:  Bones heal wonderfully. The body starts with clotted blood as a foundation and then builds upon it with crystals in something called a bone matrix. This is where the hardness of the bone starts.

Hockey players are more susceptible to broken ankles due to the constant pressure they put on their ankle joints. They are constantly pushing to start and pushing to stop. Sometimes they get hit as they are doing this, which exposes the weakness in the bone.

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Ankle problems in the NHL are so bad that they actually sell devices in their store to prevent ankle injuries. If you can’t trust the NHL to peddle you something useful, there are two medical studies focusing on ankles and the NHL. The first one looked at the, wait for it, St. Louis Blues. It’s summary:

Syndesmosis sprains represent a significant injury in hockey players with an extended time lost and, unlike in other sports, are a more common injury than lateral ankle sprains.

The second study looked at the equipment used. Who knew people looked into this? This study said:

Alternatively, plantar flexion range of motion was severely limited in the current/fitness skate conditions due to the rigid posterior aspect of the skate boots

Fascinating. I wonder if Andy McDonald availed himself of these studies?



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