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Hockey Strength and Conditioning

Everyday at Endeavor I see people doing “rotator cuff” exercises. I’m not against doing some cuff work, but people often make a fatal mistake-they load too heavily!

Your body has amazing adaptive powers. If you use heavier weights, you’ll recruit larger muscles often at the expense of the muscles you’re targeting. Consider these two examples:

1) Exercises involving glenohumeral (“shoulder”) external rotation are usually performed to the rotator cuff muscles that assist in external rotation (teres minor, infraspinatus). If the load is too heavy your posterior deltoid will take over and imbalances around your shoulder are exacerbated.

2) High load core exercises (e.g. rollouts) can become very rectus abdominis (the “6-pack” muscle) dominant, sometimes at the expense of the transverse abdominis. The same is true for teaching people to “fill up their belly” with air to stabilize their spine without teaching them to pre-tension their core first. The problem with this is that the rectus doesn’t attach to the spine or share the lumbodorsal fascia connections that the transverse abdominis and obliques do, meaning your core strength may not create the spinal stability you’re looking for.

One of the things I’m starting to include in more programs these days is intentional low load exercises like:

-Alternate DB Row (intention: stimulate spinal stabilizers)
-Standing Belly Press (intention: stimulate “inner core” in anti-rotation pattern)
-Alligator Breathing (intention: teach diaphragm breathing)

I love helping people get strong, but I think low load training is necessary to improve stability and overall movement quality. After all, if stabilizers aren’t doing their jobs the larger surrounding muscles need to split attention between creating stability and demonstrating strength/power. The key to strong, powerful, efficient movement is appropriate joint stability.

Keep training smart!

Kevin Neeld

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