- By Dana Sparks
Youth Hockey Players: “Heads Up, Don’t Duck”
With more than a half million U.S. children playing hockey, there's a renewed effort to keep them from getting hurt. As the young players careen toward the boards, it's almost instinctive for them to duck their heads. But experts say that's the wrong thing to do. USA Hockey and Mayo Clinic have released a video with powerful animation demonstrating the dangers of players tucking or ducking their heads as they hit the boards. A training program called “Heads Up, Don’t Duck” teaches players to instantly choose the safest posture for impact. Orthopedic surgeon Michael Stuart, M.D., says, “If you can’t avoid head contact, always keep your head up and don’t duck. When the head is up, the normal curvature of the spine has more shock-absorbing ability. When the head is down, the spine is straight, which makes it more susceptible to fracture that can damage the spinal cord.” Dr. Stuart is also co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and chief medical officer for USA Hockey.
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