A 2013 study from Philippon et al. found that over 1/3 of 10-12 year old hockey players have a structural change in their hips that limits hip flexion range of motion. Roughly 1/2 have hip labral tears.
In players aged ~16-19, nearly all players had both diagnosable hip impingement AND hip labral tears.
There are several important messages here:
✅ Hockey players at all ages have structural changes that will affect how they move, and therefore which exercises/patterns are most appropriate for them. At a minimum, it’s important for performance coaches to be aware and actively look for these limitations. Ideally, there’d be a screening process to help identify limitations before they start training.
✅ The prevalence of these structural changes appears to increase with age, and it’s reasonable to expect the severity of the limitation to increase with age. The older the athlete you’re working with, the more likely they have some level of limitation. As a result, how you select and coach the athletes through exercises should change.
✅ Not all players with these limitations will be symptomatic. In fact, most won’t. From a performance coach perspective, the goal is to keep them asymptomatic. However, for the player, it’s important to realize that identifying these issues through imaging should NOT be a fast pass to surgery. There are several rehab and training strategies that can help players stay healthy despite these diagnoses that should be exhausted before surgery is recommended.
Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.
To your success,
P.S. For more information on how to assess movement and integrate specific strategies to improve mobility and movement quality in training, check out Optimizing Movement. Don’t have a DVD player? Send me a note through the contact page after you checkout here Optimizing Movement and I’ll get you a digital copy of the videos!
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.