Stretching for Hockey
Today officially starts the second week of my Hockey Development Coaching Program. Since this is the first time I’ve done anything like this, I’m pretty excited that the first week went so smoothly. There was one small error (An incorrect link that I quickly fixed), but other than that smooth sailing. If you haven’t signed up yet, click the link below to do so now. Eric Cressey’s Coaching Call is coming up tomorrow and you won’t want to miss that!
Speaking of Eric, he was nice enough to send me over a few interesting articles last week on the effect of muscle damage on range of motion (ROM). I asked for the articles in reference to the idea that specific static stretches immediately following activity may help restore adequate joint ROM.
The thought process here is two fold:
1) Short-term activity-related reductions in joint ROM may increase injury risk until the ROM is recovered back to baseline levels
2) Given that ROM limitations are still present 96 hours later (see Jamurtas et al., 2005), and that most hockey players (and all athletes for that matter) are skating/playing on a daily basis, it’s probable that ROM doesn’t ever fully recover. With this in mind, static stretching following activity may help accelerate the joint ROM recovery and therefore minimize accumulative shortening of muscles and consequent quasi-permanent reduction in ROM.
I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s a simple concept. Take a little ROM away each day (by not allowing full recovery) and eventually you lose a lot of ROM.
The take homes from these papers were that repeated eccentric (muscle lengthening) muscle actions can lead to muscle damage that results in a subsequent reduction in ROM. In hockey, the waters get muddy when you start to identify which muscles groups have a high eccentric emphasis and which have a shared concentric (muscle shortening) and eccentric emphasis.
Regarding hockey (and hockey training), I think we can extend this concept a bit and just look at what feels “tight” following playing on the ice or training and spend a few minutes doing specific stretches to address that.
For instance, after playing on the ice hockey players should perform the following stretches:
1) Seated Glute Stretch (pull knee to opposite shoulder)
2) 1/2 Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (with glute contraction)
3) 1/2 Kneeling Rectus Femoris Stretch
4) Wide Stance Quadruped Stretch
5) Standing Lateral Hamstrings Stretch
6) Prone Abdominal Stretch
7) Pec Stretch
This may seem like a lot, and it is, but it’s worth it. Your body needs to recover to rebuild. Spending a few minutes after most practices and games going through this circuit will likely ward off some of the hip flexor, groin, and lower abdominal injuries that keep you out of play for weeks and months.
To your continued success,
Jamurtas, A., Theocharis, V., Tofas, T., et al. (2005). Comparison between leg and arm eccentric exercises of the same relative intensity on indices of muscle damage. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 95, 179-185.
Reinold, M., Wilk, K,., Macrina, L., et al. (2008). Changes in Shoulder and Elbow Passive Range of Motion After Pitching in Professional Baseball Players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 36(3), 523-527.