10 Best Post Game Stretching Techniques for Hockey Players
In the world of athletics, improving flexibility is just as important as building strength and stamina. Playing sports is challenging enough, imagine having to do it while gliding on a set of wheels or blades beneath your feet. This is the norm for hockey players.
Whether a person is a beginner or a pro in the sport, it can never be stressed enough how important proper exercise is to the game. Stretching is prescribed as a standard practice at the beginning or even at the end of any workout session. When it comes to hockey however, stretching is gospel truth for both pre and post game.
Why exactly is stretching important?
Very few athletes and sportsmen would admit to feeling the stress and pressure of an upcoming game. Stretching prior to an activity instantly decreases any stress or mental fatigue since an individual is forced to focus on properly executing each move.
Hearing coaches yell “Everybody, limber up!” before or even after a game is not uncommon. Stretching as a warm up or to cool down relieves any muscle stiffness or lingering pain.
The biggest perk of religiously stretching is the enhanced range of motion it affords a person. Anyone who has watched or even caught a glimpse of a hockey game will know how vital this aspect is to any player.
Repetitive movement patterns, along with bad posture, and incorrect body mechanics can lead to tense muscles. Without stretching they can become chronically tight, contracted and very tense. This results in muscles that are weak and less supple over time. The utilization of flexibility training methods can help improve its overall function.
One of the worst things that could ever happen to any athlete is to experience any form of muscle tear. Typically injuries from joints, muscle and ligament pulls take longer to recover from. In some worse case scenarios, full recovery isn’t even a possibility. Tightly wound and tensed up muscles become weak and are susceptible to wear and tear when ample stretching is lacking.
Before jumping into a variety of stretching techniques, it is essential to consider that there are some dangers in incorrectly performing certain moves.
Weird as it may seem, it is actually necessary to warm up before beginning any stretching routine. Every position must be done with correct body alignment in the duration of the stretch.
The slogan “no pain, no gain” should be the last thing on a person’s mind when preparing to do stretches. As a general rule of thumb, stretching is to be done up to the point of feeling resistance and never should pain be felt during the activity. In the event that any pain, is felt it is advisable to seek medical attention.
As vital as it is in the world of hockey to build better suppleness in the joints and muscles, it is actually of bigger importance to be able to integrate or implement these movements during hockey drills. Furthermore, it should be noted that a player’s age immensely impacts flexibility. Changes should be expected over time and it must be accommodated with a program that suits the individual.
Two Types of Stretching
A type of stretching based on functionality. The exercise includes movements that are sport specific which preps the body for the upcoming activity. Also known as mobility drills, dynamic routines focus on movements that are required to play the sport instead of laying emphasis to specific muscles. Considered safe overall, dynamic stretches are completed by performing shorter ranges of motion that are generally more controlled.
The combination of better performance, an improved range of motion as well as movements that are more specific make dynamic stretches a sold pre game and pre workout system for hockey players.
When a stretch is held between 10 – 30 seconds, this is commonly referred to as static stretching. The most commonly practiced in any form of workout, it is considered to be effective and safe in improving flexibility. It should be noted however that of the two stretches discussed here, dynamic stretching has been touted as more beneficial in improving range of motion.
Post Game Static Stretches
No matter if it was a neighborhood game or a competition, performing post game stretches are key. Doing so encourages the flow of oxygen in our blood. Proper blood flow and oxygen distribution helps relieve tense and tight muscles. Here are a top 10 best stretches for field hockey players to do when cooling down.
Lie down on our back with one knee bent towards the ceiling. With both hands, support the back of the thigh and then slowly straighten the knee towards the ceiling. Do not force a full stretch, go as far as you can without feeling pain.
For a second, hold this position, resume to the bent knee starting point and then straighten once more. Repeat this movement on each leg for twenty times.
Begin by standing with your back against the rink boards or the wall. With a cushioning pad, kneel onto your right knee. Make sure that the soles of your right foot lays flat against the wall.
Support your left knee, it should be at a 90 degree angle in front of you. For better balance, with your hand on your left knee, slightly lean back to get a good stretch on our quads. Do this for 10 seconds before switching to the other leg. Repeat three times for each leg.
With feet slightly wider apart than your shoulders go from a standing position to bending your knees. Starting with the right leg, shift your weight onto it. With your left hand, reach across your body and touch your right foot.
To get the most out of this technique, make sure your right hand is pointed up to the ceiling with your back being parallel to the ground. Now shift your weight to the other leg. 10 reps for each side.
Using your shoulders as a guide, stand with your feet shoulder width apart from each other. With your right foot execute a lunge. The correct form is to have your knee positioned directly above the toes of your right foot. Make sure your back and other leg are held straight.
Now with your arms, extend them in front of you, ensure they are straight then bring your palms together. Slowly turn your torso to your right while ensuring that the hips and pelvis have remained stationary. Repeat ten times on each side, holding or a second each time.
Find a comfortable location on the ground and sit with one slightly bent leg in front of you and one slightly bent one behind you. With slow measured movements lower your chest towards the knee in front of you with your chin up and back held straight for 10 seconds before switching legs. This stretch should be completed three times for each side.
This stretch should be done with the back laying comfortably on the ground, with knees bent and both feet apart and flat on the floor. Follow a shoulder width apart measure for feet placement.
Slowly lower your right knee towards the floor while positioning the left ankle atop whilst pushing the knee to the direction of the ground. Ensure that hips are kept on the floor while the position is held for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Begin with relaxed shoulders the take the right arm across the body, use your left hand with the palm placed on your right elbow and gently pull towards your body. Hold for several seconds before alternating to the other arm.
Shoulder and Torso
Stand with your feet hip width apart then bring your right arm overhead, bending at the elbow. Your torso should flex to the left side as you pull your right elbow towards the left allowing your right hand to rest down the back.
Keep this position in place for 15 to 30 seconds. Refrain from trunk rotation when doing the stretch to avoid injuries. Repeat the steps for your left side.
Start on all fours, make sure that your shoulders are inline with your wrists and your toes are kept tucked. Exhale and push the hips up and back, slowly straightening your legs as you go. Check to see that your shoulders are away from your ears, your core and legs are engaged.
If your legs are feeling tight, you may do slow pedaling back and forth motions to get your limbs accustomed to this stretch. Beginners are not expected to have both feet pressed to the ground. It will take some time to get used to this combination calf and hamstring stretch.
In a sitting position on the floor, sit with the knees apart with the soles of the feet pressing on each other lightly. Keep feet together as you bend your chest forward.
Hold your back straight and chest up while gently applying pressure to the knees as you push them to the floor. Hold the pose for 15 seconds and repeat two to four more times.