Hockey Tips to Keep You in the Game - Part 1

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Returning to Play

Nick Yu, MPhty, BA (Kin), CSCS, Registered Physiotherapist

The most common time for injuries are during the pre-season, first half of the season or when returning back from injury. This can be due to a combination of deconditioning, poor physical preparation, and rapidly increasing workload. Athletes can avoid this by gradually building up their workload, addressing any weaknesses or deficits and completing a graded return to sport program which can take 4-6 weeks. 

GRSM client doing physio rehab to return to hockey

Stretch Out Your Hockey Career

David Burnett, BScH, MScPT, Registered Physiotherapist

GRSM hockey tips warm up

Pre-Game or Pre-Training

Begin by performing a general 5-10 minute warm-up. Off ice this could include jogging, cycling on an exercise bike, or gently skipping to get the blood flowing to all parts of the body. On ice, use low intensity skating. Follow with dynamic stretches and mobility exercises. These are controlled movements through your full range of motion. Start with slow, low intensity movements and gradually progress to full speed game-like movements. You should not feel pain. Finally, move to a more technical and speed based warm-up which should include short high intensity, hockey specific drills with recovery time between drills to ensure you are not fatigued before your game. This should take about 15-30 minutes to complete – so arrive at the rink in plenty of time! 

Post-Game or Post-Training 

After a game or training session, cool down by gradually reducing the intensity of your skating on ice, or by walking or cycling on an exercise bike off ice, for about 5 minutes to allow the body and the cardiovascular system to gradually return to its resting state. A cool down allows waste such as lactic acid that has built up during exercise to dissipate and may reduce your chance of having Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Follow with static stretching directly after a short cool down before the muscles have cooled completely. Stretches should be held for approximately 60 seconds – you should feel a “stretch” and not pain.

GRSM client demonstrating good stretch form

Beware of Muscle Strains!

Brian Findlay, BA(Hons.Kin), MScPT, ​Registered Physiotherapist

Muscle strains are very common in many sports and especially hockey because of the quick and powerful movements needed to be successful. A mild muscle strain can sometimes get overlooked and people will just allow time to help decrease their pain but these injuries shouldn’t be ignored. An assessment by a Physiotherapist or other health care professional can be helpful to determine the underlying cause of any recurring muscle strains, get you moving more effectively on the ice, and prevent future injuries.

The Risk of Muscle Contusions

Blake Scott, MPhty, BA (Kin, Hons), Registered Physiotherapist

A muscle contusion is usually the result of a direct blow from an opposing player or piece of equipment (such as a hockey puck). Hockey players can be susceptible to muscle contusions when blocking shots. The direct blow causes muscle damage and bleeding at the site of impact. Management of contusion involves minimization of bleeding and swelling followed by stretching and strengthening. Heat, alcohol, and vigorous massage must be avoided following a muscle contusion. Special care must be taken to blocked shots at the foot or ankle. If the athlete is unable to weight bear or has point tenderness around the ankle or foot she/he should seek immediate medical advice to rule out a fracture.

Hockey Goalie rehabilitation tips physiotherapy
Nick Yu
Registered Physiotherapist
David Burnett
Registered Physiotherapist
Brian Findlay
Registered Physiotherapist
Blake Scott
Registered Physiotherapist
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