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Hockey Tips – Flexibility

December 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Stretching/Yoga

Flexibility allows you to reduce your risk of injury and also to perform at the highest levels of your athletic abilities.  With all of the aspects a hockey player needs to focus on, stretching effectively is one of the areas that is often overlooked.  Today we would like to go over the basics to give you a foundation to work off of when incorporating this into your workout program.

Stretching focuses on three main parts of your body: your muscles, tendons and ligaments.  To make sure we know exactly what we are doing, let’s define what each of these three things are.  Wikipedia’s definition of “muscle” is:

A band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body.

“Muscles” are probably the most recognized of the three only because its usage is so widespread.  You probably hear “muscle” in some form or fashion at least once a day.  It can be used to describe any kind of physical feat as well.  For example, “That winger just muscled off that defender!”  Know that muscles are the reason 98% of people decide to workout… So they can show off their muscles.

Part two of the equation is “Tendons”. “Tendons” are defined as:

A flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone and is capable of withstanding tension.

Tendons distinguish themselves by “joining muscle to bone”.  The most common tendon found in the body would have to be the “Achilles’” tendon.  The “Achilles’” as it’s often referred to, is found just above your heel on the backside of your leg.  Because tendons join your muscles to your bones, this is the reason tendon strains and injuries can be so debilitating and time-consuming when it comes to recovery.

The last part of the equation is the “ligaments”. The definition of ligament is:

A ligament is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone or bone to cartilage and supports and strengthens joints.

The main role of ligaments is to make sure that your body stays in proper alignment and to prevent abnormal movements of the joints.  Even though ligaments can be really strong, they can be stretched or torn.  The most common ligament injuries are in the knees, ankles, and wrists.

Now that we know how these three body parts interact with one another let’s talk about how we can improve and strengthen them through increasing your flexibility.  Before doing any kind of exercising, it’s extremely important that you warm up.  Warming up doesn’t have to be anything complicated.   Running the arena stairs, jumping jacks, or burpees are effective and basic warm-up exercises.  By warming up, you’re allowing your body to get heated up, provide lubrication to your joints, and get oxygen and blood pumping throughout your body.  Usually 10-15 minutes of warm-up is sufficient.  You want to have a light sweat going after your done warming up.  Once the body is warm, it’s a great time to start your stretching routine.

Stretching comes in two different varieties…  Static and dynamic stretching.  We’ve talked about the differences of these two types in an earlier post so we won’t go over them again but know that they each have a place in your routine.   As a hockey player you want to make sure that you take the time to focus on stretching the six major areas of your body.

These are:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders, Upper Back & Arms
  • Wrists and forearms
  • Lower Back
  • Upper legs and groin
  • Calves and ankles

In the upcoming posts, we are going to show you stretches that will help loosen up these parts of your body but in the meantime make sure you are spending at least two minutes one each one of the sections.  Until then, here are some general stretching guidelines you should be following.

Stretching guidelines:

  1. Make sure you warm up.
  2. Stretching should be a “fluid” motion.  Make sure your movements are not “herky jerky”.
  3. Don’t overstretch. Some tension is what you are going for. If you don’t feel the tension lessen after 5 seconds, loosen up the stretch.
  4. Don’t Bounce! Bouncing causes the body to contract its muscles which could lead to an injury.
  5. Optimal stretch hold time = 30 seconds; Minimum is 10 seconds.
  6. Stretch every day.
  7. Stretch with a partner.
  8. See a physician if a pain from stretching lingers for a few days.
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Get To Know Why Is It Imperative for You To Stretch Before a Workout

December 28th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Strength Training

Ice hockey players go through extensive dry-land training and exercises before they actually step on the ice rink. It is mandatory for every beginner to undergo several distinct training sessions in order to make sure that he can play ice hockey without hurting himself or other players. One of the most prominent training sessions in this regard deals with stretching exercises.

One may ask why stretching is so crucial for ice hockey workouts. Well, there is a simple answer to this question. It is important because it helps you achieve muscle flexibility so that you can slide and skate easily on the ice rink. Carrying out stretching exercises is basically a proactive measure. It helps prevent injuries. During ice hockey drills or tournaments, you may have internal injuries or a muscle tear as a result of constant movements. Since your body and muscles are not used to such dynamic shifts, it is necessary for you to train yourself prior to hitting the rink.

Once you attain flexibility, you can perform better. While weight lifting and cardio training are the most talked about training methods for ice hockey, the importance of stretching cannot be ignored. The underlying reason behind why stretching is so needed is because of the unique features of the playing surface. An ice rink is a place that is basically frictionless from the surface and you must therefore have incredible core power and flexibility to hold your balance while playing.

In addition to your routine exercises, the best time to stretch is before the start of the game. This practice should be conducted off-ice and under the supervision of a trainer or coach. Stretching will help you move freely without exerting a lot of pressure. You can save your energy and muscle power for other dynamic moves you need to make during the game. Stretching is how you actually reduce the risk and the possibility of injuries while playing or practicing.

Stretch training involves several parts of the body like quads, thighs, spinal cord, hamstrings, hip flexors, etc. Stretching exercises benefit you in a number of ways and are the best way to warm up a player before the game. You can achieve a higher range of movements through enhanced body posture and muscle mechanisms. Since stretching exercises focus on limb movements, you get the opportunity to attain a higher level of limb power and strength. You can employ this increased amount of strength and motion efficiency against the competing team to win the game.

Stretching exercises help you relax your muscles as you move them in different angles. A pre-game training session will warm up your muscles to achieve optimum flexibility and avoid injuries. On the other hand, stretch training that is done after the game helps you lengthen your muscles as they are already in active mode. It’s obvious that you will be exhausted and may be in search of a proper meal to satisfy the hunger, still allocate a few minutes for post-game stretching. Consequently, you will be in a position to have effortless movements all around the ice rink. So play well and stay safe!

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Miscellaneous

From our family to yours… May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Good luck in your holiday tourneys and let’s hope we have some NHL hockey in the New Year… This is getting unbearable!