One injury mechanism in ice hockey is impact with the boards. We investigated whether more flexible hockey boards would provide less biomechanical loading on impact than did existing (reference) boards.Methods
We conducted impact tests with a dynamic pendulum (mass 60 kg) and with crash test dummies (ES-2 dummy, 4.76 m/s impact speed). Outcomes were biomechanical loading experienced by a player in terms of head acceleration, impact force to the shoulder, spine, abdomen and pelvis as well as compression of the thorax.Results
The more flexible board designs featured substantial displacement at impact. Some so-called flexible boards were displaced four times more than the reference board. The new boards possessed less stiffness and up to 90 kg less effective mass, reducing the portion of the board mass a player experienced on impact, compared with boards with a conventional design. Flexible boards resulted in a similar or reduced loading for all body regions, apart from the shoulder. The displacement of a board system did not correlate directly with the biomechanical loading.Conclusions
Flexible board systems can reduce the loading of a player on impact. However, we found no correlation between the displacement and the biomechanical loading; accordingly, displacement alone was insufficient to characterise the overall loading of a player and thus the risk of injury associated with board impact. Ideally, the performance of boards is assessed on the basis of parameters that show a good correlation to injury risk.