California Rubber

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From the Trainer’s Room: How to deal with knee, MCL injuries when it comes to hockey


cp head shot 2016The medial collateral ligament in the knee (MCL) was the second most common injury in NCAA hockey in 2013, as stated by Grant, Bedi, Kurz, Bancroft and Miller.

The study showed that only concussions had a higher injury rate in male collegiate players.


The MCL is one of four ligaments in the knee and is located on the inside of the knee connecting the femur and tibia. The ligament’s purpose is to provide support to the inside of the knee, helping to prevent inward movement of the joint. This ligament can be injured when a player is either hit from the outside of the knee, placing an inward force on the knee, or when the player pivots or twists the knee and the skate sticks into the ice.

Though MCL injuries can be painful and debilitating, they rarely require surgery to repair them. Since the MCL is located outside the joint capsule, unlike the ACL and PCL, it typically gets decent blood flow and heals fairly well. Full recovery time usually ranges between two and eight weeks.

Rehab initially should be focused on regaining full motion of the knee, reducing swelling and regaining strength. As the ligament heals, the rehab should be focused on linear or straight forward movement that does not place any inward force on the knee. The unfortunate thing here is that skating and shooting does place this type of force on the knee and will be one of the last phases of the rehab.

Overall, MCL sprains are pretty common in hockey, but they heal fairly quickly and most fully recover without any long-term issues.

Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with eight years’ experience in the NHL. Chris currently owns Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County.

(Nov. 15, 2017)

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