PART III: Hockey-Specific Recovery to Stay on the Ice Longer

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Welcome to a three-part series from SportsCare Performance Institute tailored for today’s athlete. With a focus on ice hockey, SportsCare’s Strength and Conditioning Coach and Athletic Trainer Scott Gunter takes a look at three areas of improvement from warm-up to prevent injury, maximizing on-ice performance and endurance, and reducing recovery time to stay on the ice for longer periods of time.

Week One we looked at hockey-specific warm-ups to maximize performance and prevent injury. Last week, we took a look at hockey-specific dryland drills to improve on-ice power and this week, in our final installment, SportsCare focuses on hockey-specific recovery drills to help you increase stamina and stay on the ice longer.

For more information on the SportsCare Institute, the proud physical therapy and marketing partner of the New York Red Bulls and a proud partner of the New York Rangers, visit them here.

Part III: Hockey-Specific Recovery to Stay on the Ice Longer 

The final component of a sound training program is recovery. While many athletes are already familiar with static stretches, training-specific recovery takes a look at the energy systems, movement patterns, and muscle groups targeted in the workout or training session. With this in mind, it is also important to look at the training program and sport as a whole to assess specific areas of muscle imbalance and favoring tendencies to create an individualized recovery progression. I use the term “progression” because many corrective exercises can be incorporated here, which may be evolved over time for a long term functional benefit.

In my previous article on hockey-specific warm-ups, I commented on desired range of motion. Specifically, I noted that one goal of a dynamic warm-up is to open up our mobility to your current range of motion with the goal of recovery being to increase mobility where needed and develop stability where appropriate. The difference here is many of our range of motion exercises will be held for longer periods of time with an emphasis placed on increasing end range of motion.

With the amount of time it takes to train, travel and compete, you want bang-for-your buck exercises that target all your problem areas and encourage readiness for the following training session or competition. For hockey we are going to want to address muscles that are commonly strained with standard quadriceps and hamstring stretches, in addition to mobility exercises that address rotation and the muscles on the inside and outside of the hips.

If time permits, consider a complete foam rolling session of the muscles you intend to target for more effective stretching. As previously discussed, foam rolling and other myofascial release modalities work to inhibit the muscles through neuroreflexive relaxation. Utilizing this strategy prior to stretching can help you gain range of motion in shorter time while desensitizing the muscles to delayed onset muscle soreness which may be disrupting your recovery.

Add these four exercises to your post-workout routine for more effective recovery and improved performance in your next training session:

1. Sidelying windmill x 5-10 ea. side (breathe in and out in terminal position attempting to lower your shoulder closer to the ground with each breath out
2. Supine Figure 4 Stretch x 20-90s ea. side
3. Hip 3-Way Stretch x 20-90s ea. (breathe out in each terminal position-forward, middle, backwards)
4. Half-Kneeling Hip flexor x 20-90s ea. side (Not displayed in video) – Enter a lunge position with your back knee down on a foam pad for comfort. If your right knee is down, raise your right arm into the air and reach forward and across your body while pushing the hips forward with an upright torso. Shift the stretch to different portions of the quad ​by breathing out and contracting the core. Shift the stretch to the back and side by side bending and reaching further forward and across with your raised arm.

Written Special to HockeyClan by:

Scott Gunter, ATC, CSCS. USAW. Pn1, FMSC
Video Credit: Decker Lindsay, CSCS, USAW, FMSC



Main Image: Team United States poses for a team photo after defeating Team Canada and winning the gold medal during the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Bell Centre on January 5, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Team United States defeated Team Canada 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

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