Trent Svenningsen PT, B.Sc. F.C.A.M.T., Gunn IMS practitioner
Hockey season is suddenly upon us. Minor hockey teams are concluding tryouts and evaluations, NHL training camps are underway, and "Beer leagues" are starting all over the city. Like many sports that we participate in, particularly as adults, hockey encompasses unique movements and skills that require a degree of preparation. Keeping this in mind, as well as the fact that warm-up time is limited in most adult leagues it is vital for injury prevention to make your warm-up match the sport.
Step one – Make sure you are not the last person out of the dressing room so you can take advantage of the little time you have to warm-up.
Step two – Start with skating, this should be like a crescendo in music which starts off small and ends up big and loud. Start with short-easy strides, gradually lengthen and then exaggerate the stride so there are no surprises for your muscles come game time.
Step three - As you progress, work in some position specific movements for example: pivots and transition to backwards skating if you are a defensemen, stops and starts if you are a winger.
Step four – Add some hard acceleration towards the end as if it was game on!
During the slower portions of your skating warm-up, work on your upper body and consider the following:
Grasp your stick in the middle of the shaft and rotate your forearm so palm is up and down with elbow bent and again with arm outstretched to hit the shoulder.
Tuck your stick behind your back under your arms and exaggerate the rotation that occurs with shooting and skating.
Take some "shadow shots" mimicking the movement of shooting or passing.
Puck handling can be done here too but don't allow it to distract you from getting your legs going…
Towards the end of warm-up shoot some pucks, start with a wrist shot and progress to snap and slap shot. One of the worst things you could do is jump on the ice and just start shooting pucks, most of your power comes from your legs, if they are not ready your shot won't be nearly as effective!
The above can be accomplished in the under-five minutes most leagues allow.
Current research suggests that the old methods of coming out on the ice and stretching may be counterproductive and actually increase your chance of injury. The best method is a dynamic warm-up that takes each joint and muscle to its end range in a sport-specific manner as above.
This is just one example of a warm-up; there are many other sequences but the basic underlying principles are the same. If you have any specific areas that need attention, continue your warm-up on the bench until your first shift and throughout your first shift or two, remember the crescendo, start off quiet and end loud.
To improve flexibility and enhance recovery, prolonged stretching should be done after the game or as soon as is practical. Make sure you stretch your groin, quads, hamstrings, and glute muscles. Don't forget about forearms, calf, back and shoulders too. By following a routine like this you will reduce those nasty groin, hamstring, and shoulder strains that can follow you all season.
If you have any questions, we are always happy to help!