Author: ANCHOR PHYSIO Jon Wiseman
Read time: 4 minutes
As far as team sports go, hockey is one that is very physically demanding. Unlike field and court sports, in which running (a very familiar and practiced movement to most people), Hockey is played in a different set of circumstances. Without boring you with an essay about biomechanics, suffice it to say that the motions involved in hockey (skating, crossovers, shooting) place a very unique strain on the body. Because of this, a hockey player needs to prepare their body in specific ways to prevent injury and improve performance.
Listed below are 3 staple exercises that every hockey player should be performing during off ice days in order to maximize their training on the ice. Try getting these exercises in 2-3 times per week for maximum benefit.
1. Copenhagen plank
Value: this modified side plank is perfect for hockey as it targets the groin muscles (adductors); a primary muscle used in the forward skating motion as well as changing directions. Strengthening these muscles can improve explosiveness as well as decrease risk of groin strains.
Setup: begin with any raised platform that is at about knee height and has open space below it. Set up on your side with your top knee on the platform and your bottom elbow on the ground as you would in a side plank. Next, while bracing your abdominals and pushing your bottom elbow into the ground, raise your hips off the ground by driving your top knee into the platform, and simultaneously raising your bottom leg up. Hold in this top position with knee, hip and top shoulder all in line.
Parameters: 2-3 sets of 2 repetitions with 20 second holds/side. Rest 60 seconds between sets
2. Half kneeling diagonal band chops
Reason: This exercise builds the rotational strength through the middle of the body that is required for powerful shooting and skating.
Setup: begin in a half kneeling position, with the inside knee up. Ensuring that the band is secured about 2 feet above the height of your shoulders, grab the band with both hands, rotating the chest towards where the band is fixed. Next, with straight arms, bring the band towards the pocket of the opposite hip, rotating the chest in the same direction. Make sure that the pelvis stays straight and does not rotate through the whole motion. Return the the beginning point with straight arms and repeat
Parameters: 3 sets of 12 repetitions/side. Rest 30 seconds between sets
3. Weighted half kneeling hip flexor stretch
Reason: This 2-for-1 dynamic stretch targets two notoriously tight muscles in hockey players: the hip flexors and the groin muscles. This stretch will help to reverse the bent over position that is required in hockey, providing much needed length and reducing risk of muscle strains.
Setup: begin in a half kneeling position, holding a weight in both hands. Keeping the pelvis facing straight forward, turn the front leg to the side until it is 45 degrees out to the side. Next, drive your hips in the direction of the front knee until you feel a comfortable stretching in the groin of the leg that is forward and/or the hip flexor of the leg that is down. Hold this for 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Use a heavy enough weight that creates a comfortable stretch and that you feel you can control.