Today’s Thursday Throwback highlights a structural abnormality that affects the overwhelming majority of the hockey population specifically and much of the elite athletic population in general.

While the tone of this post (and the linked article) is specific to one structural abnormality, the foundational theme is not. The real message here is that every athlete is built differently, both from their genetic make-up and how they’ve adapted to stressors over the course of their lifetime.

As a result, it’s incredibly important that coaches appreciate these individual variations and don’t attempt to coach every athlete into a somewhat arbitrary movement “norm”. Often times athletes are patterning movement around the range of motion that they have and can control. If an athlete doesn’t have the motion to perform an athletic movement correctly, it’s wise to dig deeper to see if it’s a structural or functional limitation. If functional, use whatever tools you have to improve it. If structural, coach around it. Either way, the goal is to optimize movement.

Check out the post, and post any thoughts/comments you have in the section below!

Hockey Hip Injuries: Femoracetabular Impingement

Femeroacetabular impingement (FAI) is an anatomical abnormality that anyone that trains hockey players needs to be aware of. In the most simple sense, FAI affects hip flexion ROM, especially past 90 degrees. This will necessarily lead to restrictions in many common lifting and jumping movements and will affect a player’s skating stride.

Mike Reinold recently posted a terrific article from Trevor Winnegge that I think you should read.

Check it out here >> Femoroacetabular Impingement: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of FAI

I don’t think strength coaches need to go through a screen for every possible injury that a player may incur, but I do think it’s important to be able to recognize signs of injuries or anatomical abnormalities when the player is warming up and training off the ice.

This article did a great job of outlining information related to the diagnosis and treatment of these injuries, but I think the real insight comes from the discussion section. I don’t always spend time reading through the discussion in most articles, but this was well worth the time. When you read it, you’ll see comments from people like Mike Reinold, Eric Cressey, and Jeff Oliver (really bright guys).

Pay special attention to comments regarding how FAI will affect movement so that you can be on the watch for this. Here’s a glimpse at some of my additions:

Round 1
We see a good number of these cases as well since the majority of our athletes are hockey players. As Eric mentioned, most have terrible soft-tissue quality around the hip.

The Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis mechanism probably holds extra weight amongst hockey goalies, who grow up dropping to their knees in an almost uncontrolled free fall at ages when they surely don’t have the muscular development to control the motion.

Given the magnitude of these surgeries, we try to focus on conservative approaches. Using single-leg work gives the hips more degrees of freedom, but keeping the athlete above their hip flexion end-range also helps ensure that we’re not getting compensatory lumbar movement.

Round 2 (In response to Jeff Oliver’s comments)
Great point about not being “knee benders”. Because of my history working with hockey players on the ice, it seems that most coaches want their players to skate with the “ideal” stride. I think FAI is one illustration of why some players may opt for a different pattern.

Lumbar compensation, in some plane, is almost inevitable when people reach their hip flexion ROM, especially in bilateral lower body exercises. The only difference between FAI athletes and “normal” athletes is that FAI athletes will hit that hip flexion end range sooner, in at least one hip. If it’s a unilateral problem, you’ll likely see one hip drop below the other during squatting. That’s why I like single-leg work so much for these athletes-it gives the spine options as to which plane to move (namely that lateral flexion becomes more available) and lessens the compression load. This way, if an athlete fails to stop at THEIR end range (which they need to be educated on), they’re in a less damaging environment.

The Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis involves some, typically blunt, force that causes a shift in the growth plate at the femoral head/neck junction, which negates the head/neck offset (at least this is the theory). I’ve heard this attributed to things that kids naturally do like jumping out of trees, falling while playing on the playground, or repetitively free falling to your knees while learning how to play goalie! Now, with no femoral head/neck offset, when the femoral head recentrates in the acetabulum, hip flexion will be limited and it’s likely that the repetitive attempts to push hip flexion past the newly found limits will cause some accumulated trauma locally, which (in my opinion) could lead to additional bone growth and therefore an additional exacerbation of the problem. I know that’s long-winded; I hope it all makes sense. Feel free to email me if you have other questions.

Again, I highly recommend you read the whole article. Knowledge is power, and given that FAI is leading to surgery in a lot of cases, the more you know about to the more you can prevent FAI leading to excessive labral damage and future osteoarthritis (as is often the case when FAI goes unchecked).

Check it out here >> Femoroacetabular Impingement: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of FAI

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University

In preparation for our Endeavor Staff Meeting last week, I spent a couple hours reading new research related to hockey players. Much to my surprise (because not a lot of research is done on the hockey population), there was actually some pretty interesting stuff out there. Check it out:

Laterality differences in elite ice hockey: An investigation of shooting and catching orientations

I wouldn’t say this is “groundbreaking”, but it’s intriguing. This study found that right-handed players were better goal scorers, left-handed players were better playmakers, and that there was an increase in left-handed goalies at higher levels (I always hated shooting on lefty goalies as a player!). Obviously, this isn’t to say that leftys can’t score goals and rightys can’t make passes, only that there is a tendency for more of the opposite to occur.

A 7-year review of men’s and women’s ice hockey injuries in the NCAA

The rate of concussion was 0.72/1000 exposures for men and 0.82/1000 for women, and the rate remained stable over the study period. Player contact was the cause of concussions in game situations for 41% of women and 72% of men. This goes to show that concussions are AT LEAST as big of a problem in women’s hockey as they are in men’s. Strength, speed, and awareness are the best ways to combat these!

Complex training in ice hockey: the effects of a heavy resisted sprint on subsequent ice-hockey sprint performance

This study found that performing a single heavy sled-resisted sprint on the ice was sufficient to improve 25-m on-ice sprint times. With my background in neuroscience, this isn’t surprising. Heavy training results in an increased neural drive to the working muscles. This does provide an on-ice training application for power skating work though. By performing heavy sled-resisted sprints, resting for a few minutes, then performing an unloaded sprint, you can train the body to use a greater proportion of the skating muscles’ capabilities to operate at higher velocities. The key is to provide ample rest between the two bouts (2-3 minutes), and not just run the players into the ground. Sean Skahan wrote a great post on this on his site: Complex Training in Hockey

Cellular responses in skeletal muscle to a season of ice hockey

This was the one that really stood out to me. The authors took metabolic enzyme samples from the vastus lateralis (lateral quad muscle) pre- and post-season and parlayed these findings to adaptive changes that occur in the muscle across the season. The result was “a smaller (p < 0.05) cross-sectional area (CSA) for both type I (-11.7%) and type IIA (-18.2%) fibres and a higher (p < 0.05) capillary count/CSA for type I (+17.9%) and type IIA (+17.2%) were also found over the season. No changes were found in peak oxygen consumption (51.4 ± 1.2 mL kg(-1) min(-1) vs. 52.3 ± 1.3 mL kg(-1) min(-1)).” This led the authors to conclude that “based on the alterations in oxidative and perfusion potentials and muscle mass, that the dominant adaptations are in support of oxidative metabolism, which occurs at the expense of fibre CSA and possibly force-generating potential.”

Taken at first glance, these findings would seem to question the “hockey players don’t need aerobic training” argument. A slightly deeper look at this information shows that the authors didn’t demonstrate an absolute increase in capillary count, only an increase in capillary count PER cross sectional area of the muscle fibers. In this regard, it’s especially relevant that cross sectional area decreased significantly in both Type I and Type II fibers. This means that capillary count could have also decreased, but decreased RELATIVELY LESS than the cross sectional area of the muscle fibers. I also think it’s important to note that these findings were from one muscle only, and it’d be difficult to make body-wide assumptions based on these findings.

At the risk of sounding stubbornly narrow-minded regarding my opinion on conditioning for hockey players, I think this study just further highlights the need for in-season training to maintain muscle mass. 12% and 18% decreases in the cross-sectional area of Type I and Type II muscle fibers, respectively, is pretty substantial! I’d be interested to see how the findings in this study would change if muscle mass was maintained throughout the season. I’d also be interested to see how the strength profiles of these players changed.

Risk Factors for Groin Strains in Sports from Mike Reinold

Mike Reinold is a really bright guy and I’ve enjoyed reading his work for the last several months. In this post he highlights a study on soccer players indicating that the top two risk factors for groin strains are previous strain and adductor weakness. If you’ve been following my work for a while this won’t be news to you, but it’s nice to know that the research community it continuing to find that this is the case. The more evidence we have that these are the two most common factors, the more convinced we can be that we’re on the right track by taking steps to maintain adductor strength and prevent initial injuries form occurring in the first place.

Last, but certainly not least, I think Body By Boyle Online has RAPIDLY established itself as one of the top strength and conditioning resources available. What started as a site to deliver the training programs used by Michael Boyle Strength and Conditioning to establish itself as the #1 Gym in America has expanded to include an incredible amount of information, including some of Boyle’s top presentations, and presentations from Sue Falsone (Physical Therapist from Athletes Performance) and my friend Nick Tumminello. When the site first came out, I thought it was a great option for individuals that wanted to follow a structured training program, and for strength and conditioning coaches that wanted to take the guess work out of program design for their clients. Now I think it’s a must-have for all strength and conditioning professionals. I’m blown away that they’d put so much content on the site and still only charge around $60/month to access it. Click the image below to head over to the site and see everything they have to offer.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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What a week. Things have been really chaotic as I get ready to launch my new hockey training project and as our Tier I youth and Junior players return back to Endeavor for their off-season training.

I wanted to let you know about a special opportunity I just found out about. In January I mentioned that my friend Joe Heiler from SportsRehabExpert.com was putting together a “Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar”. If you missed that post, you can check out it here: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

In a nutshell, Joe compiled an absurdly prestigious list of the top physical therapists, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches in the world and interrogated them for their best information.

Contributors included:

Gray Cook and Shirley Sahrmann
Robert Panariello
Stuart McGill (bonus interview with Chris Poirier from Perform Better)
Craig Liebenson and Clare Frank
Mike Reinold
Greg Rose
Mike Boyle
Gary Gray
Eric Cressey

The interviews were done so well that I actually emailed Joe afterward and (politely and respectfully) asked him what he was thinking giving them away for free. If you didn’t register for the teleseminar, you really missed out on an incredible opportunity to here some of the most brilliant people in human performance history speak.

Luckily, Joe has put together all of the presentations (including bonus presentations by Nick Tumminello and Charlie Weingroff) into one great package for a more than reasonable investment.

Click here for more information: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

Let me take a second to say that this is NOT for everyone. I know a lot of the people that read my site are youth hockey players or coaches that have no interest in this aspect of things. If this includes you, then do NOT buy this. A lot of the science talk will be over your head and you won’t get a ton out of it.

If you ARE a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or strength and conditioning coach, this is definitely information you should hear. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever get this type of line up again, and you really can’t beat the price tag: $29.99. Think about the travel, food (for me this would probably exceed $100 itself…but I eat a lot), hotel and admission costs associated with attending a weekend seminar to get this SAME information. I still think Joe is crazy for giving this away at this price, but he’s really dedicated to making quality information easily accessible, and I have a ton of respect for that!

Click here for more information: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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My friend Joe Heiler, the brilliant Physical Therapist behind SportsRehabExpert.com, just sent me an email announcing the final line-up to his FREE “Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar.”

Check out this list of presenters!

Gray Cook and Shirley Sahrmann
Robert Panariello
Stuart McGill (bonus interview with Chris Poirier from Perform Better)
Craig Liebenson and Clare Frank
Mike Reinold
Greg Rose
Mike Boyle
Gary Gray
Eric Cressey

I don’t know how he managed to get those names to join forces for this (or why he’s offering this seminar for free), but I’m really excited for the seminar. This list includes the most influential Physical Therapists, Strength Coaches, Chiropractors, and Athletic Trainers in the industry, and they ALWAYS deliver unbelievable content.

Gray Cook, Shirley Sahrmann, Stuart McGill, Mike Boyle, and Eric Cressey have all had a profound impact on the way I train my athletes. In fact, from my desk at Endeavor I can see at least one book from each one of them!

The presentations will begin on January 27th and run every Wednesday night at 8 pm. Joe mentioned that he knew that time may not work for everyone so he’s making all the presentation recordings available for up to 48 hours afterward.

This is one of the few presentations/seminars every year that you MUST be a part of. Last year’s was incredible and the line-up is even better this year! Since it’s free…and you have two days to listen to each presentation, you really don’t have an excuse not to.

Click the link below for more information or to register:

Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Remember that this is a FREE teleseminar! At the risk of offending you, you’d have to be stupid not to register: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar

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