Best Stretches For Hockey Players
Ice hockey is a contact sport. Like other contact sports, joint and muscle function is critical to playing well and reducing the risk of injury. Performing the correct ice hockey stretches before and after workouts or games can be the difference between playing your best and cheering for your team from the sideline.
This guide will introduce you to the importance of stretching for ice hockey players and several stretches that can easily be performed at home or at the rink to improve your game and reduce the chance of injury.
The Importance of Stretching
Stretching is essential for peak performance at the rink. After all, this contact sport takes place on a frictionless surface, which means proper flexibility and core stability serve a major role in how you play. Stretching improves flexibility, which in turn means players can move more freely and improve their performance. The following are some benefits of stretching for ice hockey players.
- Optimal movement efficiency
- More body awareness
- Less soreness
- Superior mechanics and posture
- Better range of motion
- Improved muscular relaxation
- More efficient movement
Ice Hockey Stretches to Perform
Hockey players should perform both static and dynamic stretches. Static stretches are those held in a difficult but comfortable position for a certain period of time, while dynamic stretches incorporate movements specific to the sport to better prepare the body for hockey practice or a game. These are some of the best static and dynamic stretches for hockey players.
- Groin stretch: Stand with your feet just wider than your shoulders, bend your knees, and apply weight to your right leg. Reach across your body with your right hand and touch your left foot. Point your other hand toward the ceiling and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds before performing the same maneuver on the other side. Repeat the stretch two to four times on each side.
- Hip flexor stretch: Move your feet shoulder-width apart and lunge forward with your right foot so your right knee is above the toes of the right foot. Keep the left leg extended back and straight, and push your arms out in front of you, with palms together. Turn your core to the right while keeping your hips and pelvis stationary. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds before switching to the other side. Repeat the stretch for two to four rounds on each side.
- Straight arm rotations: Straight arm rotations are best performed at the gym with a cable machine. Connect a cable to the high pulley at head level and stand on the side of the machine. Firmly grip the cable with both hands and push it out in front of your chest. Squeeze the abs and twist in the opposite direction of the machine until you feel a stretch. Return to the center and repeat eight times on each side.
- Single leg hip circles: Single leg circles improve pelvic stability and core strength. Lay on your back on the floor with your arms at your side and legs extended. Pull the abs in and pull one knee toward the chest, extending it toward the ceiling. Inhale, and move that extended leg up and across the body in a controlled circular motion. Perform 12 circles before switching legs and performing the same maneuver on the other side.
Stretching is an integral part of every great hockey player’s performance, and it should occur prior to practices and games as well as off the ice. Those who stretch enjoy more mobility, superior body awareness, and ultimately, an improved level of performance. Stretch more often and let someone else be the one rooting from the sideline this season.