Accessibility Tools

Hip and Groin Injuries That Affect Hockey Goalies

Ice hockey is a physically demanding sport involving rapid movements and specialized techniques, making it one of the most injury-prone sports. Hip and groin injuries are particularly common among ice hockey players, as the unique nature of the sport can place a significant amount of stress on the hip joints.

With this in mind, goaltenders are at a higher risk of developing hip and groin problems due to the unique physical demands of their roles. Techniques such as the “butterfly style” can strain their hip joints as they rely heavily on their lower body to protect the goal.

How Modern Goalkeeping Predisposes Athletes to Hip and Groin Injuries

The butterfly style, a more modern goalkeeping technique, involves frequent and rapid dropping down to the knees. Goalies rotate the hips 90 degrees internally to keep the padding parallel to the ice and block attempts to score.

What’s crucial to note is that this technique regularly exposes the hip joint to excessive internal rotation, often beyond the hip range of motion (ROM). This happens only during side splits in ballet, kicking in martial arts, and similar extreme movements in other sports.

Goalies drop down into the butterfly position at least 45 times for full or half saves – and many more during daily practices. They also have to constantly perform bending and twisting movements to stop the puck, making them susceptible to hip and groin problems over time.

Hip and Groin Injuries Affecting Hockey Goalies

Below, we explore common hip and groin problems in hockey goalies that can impede their performance on the rink.

  1. Groin Strain

    The groin area comprises a group of muscles called the adductors. These extend from the inner pelvis to the inner part of the thigh bone and are essential for stabilizing the leg during movement, especially in actions involving pulling the legs together or stabilizing the body during lateral motions.

    Because of this, repetitive and quick side-to-side movements can overstretch or tear the adductors. Wide stances, sudden ‘splits’ and powerful leg kicks performed when blocking shots can also put a strain on this muscle group and cause groin injuries.

    Groin strain symptoms generally include the following:

    • Sharp pain in the inner thigh
    • Pain when spreading the legs apart or bringing them together
    • Weakness in the groin muscles
    • Swelling and bruising within 48 hours of the injury
  2. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

    This orthopedic condition primarily involves two anatomical structures: the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (the socket in the pelvis). FAI occurs when bony abnormalities on either or both structures increase friction during hip movements.

    Hockey goalies are particularly susceptible to FAI due to the extreme hip motions required by their position. Repetitive movements, deep squatting positions and even getting up from the butterfly position can lead to and aggravate the impingement.

    Symptoms of FAI typically include:

    • Groin pain (often aggravated by turning, twisting, or squatting)
    • Stiffness or a decreased range of motion in the hip
    • A sharp stabbing pain during sudden movements
  3. Hip Labral Tear

    The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the thigh bone meets the pelvis. Surrounding the pelvis’s acetabulum is the labrum, a ring of cartilage providing stability and cushioning for the joint.

    However, the butterfly drop, where the knees are bent and thighs are splayed outward, is particularly strenuous for the hips. Over time, these actions can lead to tearing or detachment of the labrum from the acetabulum.

    Players suffering from a hip labral tear may experience symptoms such as:

    • A sharp, catching pain in the groin or hip area
    • A catching or locking sensation in the hip joint
    • Stiffness or limited range of motion in the hip
  4. Hip Flexor Tendinitis

    The hip flexor muscles, primarily the iliopsoas, enable hockey goalies to perform athletic movements. This muscle group connects the lower spine and pelvis to the femur and facilitates powerful leg movements during play.

    Unfortunately, repetitive strain, sudden leg extensions when making saves and rising out of a butterfly position can lead to the overuse of the iliopsoas muscle. Moreover, frequent and aggressive directional changes increase stress on the tendons, resulting in inflammation.

    Players with hip flexor tendinitis may experience pain in the front hip or groin area, weakness in the upper leg and decreased range of motion.

  5. Sports Hernia (Pubalgia)

    Also known as athletic pubalgia, this is a strain or tear of the muscles or tendons in the lower abdomen or groin area.

    Hockey goalies are particularly vulnerable to this injury due to the dynamic and sudden movements required during play, such as lunging, twisting, and quick directional changes to block shots. The repetitive stress and forceful contractions can lead to an overuse injury, ultimately resulting in a sports hernia over time.

    Athletic pubalgia symptoms often present as:

    • Sharp groin pain aggravated by sports-related activities
    • Pain that radiates to the thigh
    • A sensation of weakness or a feeling that something has torn

Treating and Recovering From Groin and Hip Injuries

If you’re a goalie experiencing hip and groin problems, it’s crucial that you adhere to a recommended period of rest and avoid movements that may exacerbate the injury. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises guided by a medical professional can also help you maintain flexibility without putting undue stress on the injured area.

Surgery is not always required in treating groin and hip injuries in hockey goalies. Initial approaches typically involve rest, physical therapy and pain management strategies. However, surgical intervention may be necessary to restore function and enable a return to the ice in cases of severe tissue damage or chronic conditions that hinder performance.

Return to the Ice With Confidence With American Hip Institute

While hockey goalies are prone to groin and hip injuries due to the role they have to play, proper conditioning, warm-up routines and strengthening exercises can help mitigate the risks. More importantly, listening to their bodies and seeking timely medical attention can reduce downtime, improve outcomes and help goalies maintain their performance on the ice.

If you’re worried about your hip or groin injury recovery, know that you can always look forward to personalized care and the best possible outcome at the American Hip Institute. Our orthopedic specialists are trained and experienced in advanced hip preservation and restoration techniques. Best of all, we tailor your treatment to your needs and goals to help you return to the rink with confidence and ease.

Contact us today to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you return to your top-level performance.

Contact us to schedule an appointment
with our specialists today.

Contact us

You may also like...

  • blog-images

    Elbow Sprain? Here’s How to Heal Faster

    The elbow joint, a marvel of engineering, allows us to perform countless tasks with ease. From raising a cup of coffee to throwing a baseball, it hinges, rotates, and extends, all thanks to a complex network of bones, ligaments, and tendons.

    Read more

  • blog-images

    Is Hip Pain Impeding Your Runs? Here’s How to Get Back on Track

    Running is a great way to stay active and improve your overall health. It strengthens your heart, lungs, and bones, and can even boost your mood. But for runners, one area can be particularly vulnerable: the hips.

    Read more

  • blog-images

    Top 5 Patient Questions About Hip Osteoporosis

    Do you ever wonder if sudden hip or pelvis pain is a sign of something more? May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, a timely reminder to focus on bone health. As we age, our bones naturally become less dense, increasing the risk of fracture...

    Read more

Contact us to schedule an appointment
with our specialists today.

Contact us