How dangerous is ice stock sport

Fit on bare ice

A steaming glass of mulled wine in hand, with a little bit of humor and “target water”: this is what around 200,000 curling athletes across Austria love about the most popular organized winter sports in this country. "The great thing about curling is that little strength and basic fitness are required," says Dr. Martin Herzeg, general practitioner and specialist in orthopedics in Villach and team doctor of the Villacher SV ice hockey club. "As with ice skating, if there are not serious previous stresses - for example in the form of severe cardiovascular diseases or joint damage - old and young can be on the ice immediately."

The equipment for that sport, in which an ice stick weighing around four kilos is pushed as close as possible to a “target pigeon”, is manageable, even in the smallest village a lane can be set up if necessary. "Depending on the level of play, overall fitness is improved in curling, eye-body coordination is trained, the psyche is positively stimulated, the immune system is strengthened in the cold and the shoulder, upper and forearm on the throwing side are specially trained," explains Mag. Oliver Steinwender, sports scientist and Performance diagnostician at the im.puls sport institute in Carinthia. There is no specific training program for curling, but Steinwender recommends that those who are hungry for training should improve their general fitness. "They should improve their stamina through sports such as cycling, hiking or Nordic walking and work on their body and core tension with exercises for the abdominal and back muscles."

Vulnerable wrist

But even with this seemingly harmless social sport, the mirror-smooth surface causes involuntary “hopscotch”. In some winter seasons, some accident hospitals recorded more injuries from curling than from tobogganing. When hobby athletes with contorted faces from the ice rink head straight for the emergency room, fall injuries after a loss of balance are typically the cause.

“Falling forward and trying to catch yourself with your hands is classic. This often results in a wrist injury or even a broken spoke, ”explains orthopedist Herzeg. But even falling on the buttocks or head often rudely stops the fun and can end with coccyx bruises or skull injuries such as concussions. Herzeg: "Even more seldom - but extremely dangerous - are so-called impaling injuries when a player falls with his chest on a standing ice stick." The Villacher sees the injury situation - with a few exceptions - but generally relaxed. “In curling, alcohol is traditionally sometimes involved. That doesn't exactly improve coordination skills. Otherwise it is a very safe sport. "

Perseverance & grace in ice skating

In contrast to sociable stick sports, it is above all the dancing elegance that drives many amateur athletes to "root out" their ice skates in winter. Especially for office-stressed city dwellers, sport on the only three millimeter narrow runners is one of the few ways in an urban environment to burn up to 400 calories per hour. A good mood quickly arises when you go ice skating. “Not only does the psyche benefit from this, ice skating also trains significantly more body parts than ice stock sport,” explains Steinwender, who assigns speeding on the ice to endurance sports. "Especially with regular exercise, on the one hand the cardiovascular system is strengthened, on the other hand the front and back of the thighs are trained and the overall stability of the upper body is improved by activating the back extensors."

More stable on the wobbly board
In order to prepare for cool adventures on razor-sharp runners in autumn, Steinwender advises not only endurance training, for example on the ergometer, but also, above all, fine-tuning the coordination of the lower extremities. “This can start with standing on one leg while brushing your teeth in the evening. If you are more ambitious, you can increase stability from the ankles to the hips on flexible training equipment such as pillows, balance boards or coordination seesaws, ”says the sports scientist. The Board of Trustees for Road Safety counts an average of around 4,500 accidents per year across Austria that end in hospitals. "The injury patterns after falls largely coincide with those in ice stock shooting," reveals orthopedist Herzeg. “However, the higher speed leads to more broken bones and more frequent falls backwards and injuries to the pelvis, spine and tailbone. It is also not uncommon to find cuts on the hand and fingers from the runners of others. ”In the event of an injury to the musculoskeletal system, Herzeg advises that the area should be cooled and immobilized as an initial measure. "In the event of severe head injuries or even loss of consciousness, do not move the injured person, but bring them into a stable lateral position, keep the airways free and get professional help." ‘

Passion & gang checks in ice hockey

Fast, faster, ice hockey! When the “cracks”, packed in thick protectors, sprint while chasing the puck, hit with a stick or crash into one another in a duel, they are exhausting themselves in the fastest team sport of all. Ice hockey brings the pulse values ​​three times the normal range and burns up to 700 calories per hour, depending on the level and body, even in the hobby area. However, the old saying "No pain, no gain" also applies here, because the physical strain and the risk of injury are significantly higher than, for example, when ice skating or curling. "Ice hockey inherently requires more basic fitness and robustness," says Herzeg, who himself regularly unpacks the stick in a Carinthian hobby team. "Therefore, joint problems or artificial joints, existing heart diseases, neurological pre-stresses such as multiple sclerosis or previous skull injuries as well as reasons for ice hockey are to be advised against, such as overweight or an age over 60, if the ability to coordinate clearly declines."

Muscle armor makes the difference

However, if you are fit and motivated enough to chase the little hard rubber puck, you will also benefit a lot. "Ice hockey is a high-speed sport that involves sprints and high performance peaks," explains Steinwender. “Stamina, speed and the muscles of the legs, torso and side of the arm are put under massive strain. An important building block for this is, similar to ice skating, training the stability of the torso, hips, knees and ankles on tilting surfaces such as the balance board. In addition, however, the core of the body in particular needs good muscle armor against the dangers of impact and bumps. ”This can be achieved with exercises for the hips, lower back, stomach and up to the first rib. The importance of such "protective training" is obvious, because the armored "cracks" are exposed to injuries from duels, impact with the gang or injuries from puck and baton. "Around 80 percent of all injuries in ice hockey result from duels," reveals Herzeg. Very often the shoulder or knee are affected after an impact or an involuntary twisting movement, resulting in bruises or cruciate ligament and collateral ligament injuries. Bruised fingers and knocked out teeth are also not uncommon. “The most dangerous, however, are head injuries, from concussions to cerebral haemorrhage, which accounts for a third of all injuries,” says Herzeg, who is a big fan of the sport despite all the risks. "If you really have a passion for ice hockey, you won't let go of it."

Protective equipment on slippery terrain

All sports on ice have one thing in common: the high risk of falling. "While everyone now puts on protectors in ice hockey, the use of protective equipment for ice skating and ice stick shooting is unfortunately still in its infancy," complains the Villach orthopedic surgeon Dr. Martin Herzeg. The most important prop he sees is a helmet made of lightweight plastic, which is indispensable for hockey with at least a half-visor or a grille as eye protection. It is only slowly coming into fashion in ice skating, but it is also highly recommended there, as is the case with ice stock sport, in order to avoid serious traumatic brain injuries when falling on the head. Wrist and knee protectors would also be useful for all three sports, as well as good gloves to protect against cuts from runners or hard impacts of the hands on the ice.

Supplement in combat-oriented ice hockey

* Leg protection against gang impact,
* Elbow protection,
* Shin guard,
* Breast and back armor,
* Groin guard for the genitals and
* Mouth guards for teeth equipment.

Special non-slip shoes are recommended for ice stock sport. Herzeg warns: "Especially in hobby sport, protective equipment is more important than in top-class sport because of the unpredictability of those involved."

im.puls sport - Institute for Exercise and Health

As of 11/2018