Background Impact to boards is a frequent cause of injury in ice hockey. Improving the board design to reduce the biomechanical loading of a player at impact is one option to prevent injury.
Objective Compare the impact performance of different ice hockey boards and investigate whether so-called “flexible” board designs are to be preferred over standard designs.
Design Impact testing of ice hockey boards under laboratory conditions using a dynamic pendulum as well as anthropometric test devices (crash test dummies).
Experimental Setting Three board elements including glazing (total length: 7 to 9 m; total height: 2.9 to 3 m) were mounted in the laboratory. A total of 8 systems were tested: two systems featured a standard design while 6 systems represented recent designs that claim to be more flexible. The test conditions were chosen based on previous studies. A pendulum (mass: 60 kg) impacted the boards at heights of 1 m (below handrail) and 1.4 m (on glazing) with velocities of 3.37 m/s and 4.76 m/s. The dummy experiments used a fully instrumented ES-2 dummy that impacted the board in a standing position (mimicking a body check position) at 4.76 m/s.
Main Outcome Measurements The deformation of the boards was measured at 1 m and 1.4 m height. Additionally biomechanical relevant measures were recorded using the dummy. The performance of the board and the biomechanical loading of a player were assessed.
Results Generally a “flexible” board design allows for more deformation than a standard design, but the performance varies strongly between different board models/ products. While standard boards deformed 13.4±3.6 mm and 30.7±13.1 mm at 1 m and 1.4 m height, respectively, “flexible” boards deformed 40.1±13.3 mm and 56.2±17.7 mm. Acrylic glazing enables more deformation than glass glazing (10–60% increase). The results were consistent for dummy and pendulum impacts.
Conclusions Recent board designs exhibit a larger deformation performance compared to standard designs.