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Home » Sports Massage

Sports Massage for Ice Hockey

Submitted by on August 2, 2009 – 7:33 pmNo Comment

In my sports massage seminars and workshops, I focus on specific injuries and recommended action plans to correct the underlying problems.  Here, I’d like to talk a bit more high-level about common muscular problems seen in specific sports.  Today I’m writing about the muscles involved in ice hockey.

The Drive Leg
The skating motion involves a strong hip extension, abduction and external rotation of one leg while the body weight is supported on the opposite leg.  This motion primarily involves the piriformis and gluteus maximus.  Over time, these muscles will become very short and tight, so that you will see the clients feet rotated out when they lie supine on your table.  The adductor muscles are often strained from this rapid, forceful movement but this is usually caused by weakness in the adductors and a muscle imbalance with the strong hip abductors.

As the hip moves to generate the majority of the propulsion, the ankle will simultaneously evert and plantarflex to add a “snap” to the end of the leg drive.  The peroneals and lateral gastrocnemius is often a site of overuse with this activity.  Be sure to check the ability of the ankle to invert when you work on a skater…You will be surprised at the stiffness you will find!

The Stance Leg
While the rear leg is driving into hip extension, abduction and external rotation, the torso will forward flex and rotate toward the bent support leg.  This action places strain on the lumbar erectors, obliques and especially the quadratus lumborum muscles, as well as the quadriceps from supporting the body in a bent-knee position.  Speaking from my experiences playing recreation-league hockey, the day after the first game of the season was a slow moving time for me because of this low back stiffness.

Just yesterday, my clinic partners and I were providing sports massage to a local marathon training group, when one of my partners caught my eye to show me the stiffness in her client’s legs.   After seeing the stiffness in his hips, I said to him “You played hockey, didn’t you?”.  He was a little shocked & said “yes, for about 30 years” and I told him we could tell that simply from seeing his limited range of motion.  It was a guess, but by seeing many skaters over the years gave me a strong understanding of their movement restrictions and made it a very educated guess.


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