When it comes to physically intense and demanding sports, hockey is second to none. It’s sometimes been referred to as a “collision” sport. Combining intense player contact with high speed and fast cuts and stops, there are plenty of injuries, especially to feet and ankles. Being hit by a 6 oz. slab of very hard rubber traveling at more than 80 miles per hour can do some serious damage too.
Ice skates are extremely stiff around the ankles providing more support and stability to players. Therefore, common foot and ankle injuries in hockey are somewhat different than those found in most other sports.
When an athlete rolls his or her ankle, the resulting injury is called an inversion sprain. Another type of sprain is known as a high ankle sprain which are common to hockey players. These injuries occur slightly above the ankle to the tendons that attach the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) to the ankle. Typically, this happens when the skate blade catches a rut and the ankle rolls inside to outside (eversion). Pain often becomes worse when you flex your foot upward, such as when going up or down stairs. Unfortunately, high ankle sprains often take a while to heal—usually at least 6 weeks, and sometimes much longer.
Lace bite is particular to hockey and is marked by pain that can stretch from the front of your lower leg and ankle to your toes, across the top of your foot. It’s usually the result of inflammation and aggravation of the tendon that connects your tibia to your big toe. This tendon is important for dorsiflexion which simply means pulling the front of your foot up toward your leg. When severe, taking strides or simply putting your skate on can be extremely painful to unbearable. Most of the time, the problem is that the tongue of the skate is pressing too tightly against the tendon, which can be deeply aggravating as you try to skate around a rink.