Whenever we move there is a particular sequence of events that occurs throughout the joints of the body. For example once the foot touches the ground it goes into pronation as the arch flattens reducing the energy of impact and preparing to release it.

And while this is happening in the frontal (think side to side) plane of the foot there is also activity happening in the sagittal and transverse planes as well. Some of the activity is dynamic and involves movement of joints whereas some is static and involves stabilization.

But this is just at the foot and there is still the ankle, knee, hips, low back, upper back and shoulders to consider as well. It’s similar in a sense to cracking a whip in that the movement transfers all the way through the system without any breaks.

So as the energy from the ground is reduced by all of the relevant joints there is a loading that occurs to set up the toe off event. For example the foot and ankle are dorsiflexed, and the knee and hip are flexed as well.

In hockey players wear a skate that fixes the foot and ankle in a stiff boot. This is no different than any speed sport that seeks to transfer as much energy from the effort into propulsion. Plus as slap shots get harder and stick technology continues to improve there is a need to provide more protection around the skate when players attempt to block a shot.

So with a more restricted foot and ankle position how does this factor into normal movement patterns? Well for starters the energy from every stride will be looking up the chain for a place to dissipate. As the knee is a hinge joint and moves primarily in the sagittal plane  it isn’t the best candidate.  Climb a little higher and we get to the hips.

So the necessity for mobile hips becomes all the more important. And watching any amount of hockey and you quickly observe the 3D character of the game and the transmission of force through the hips. This force could be an acceleration, a hit or a shot as they involve extension and rotation through the hips.

So as you continue on with your hockey training remember to keep the following tips in mind.

1. Ensure a complete and thorough warm-up of the hips.

This includes internal and external rotation, adduction and abduction, flexion and extention. Pay attention to left and right differences and spend more attention on areas that are particularly restricted. Not everyhing has to be done in a 1:1 manner. If your external rotators are particularly weak spend more time addressing this.

2. Get your a@# in to it.

Glutes bridges and lateral band walking are great exercises to activate the glutes and reciprocally mobilize the hips. As you strengthen a particular muscle you reciprocally release its opposite muscle.

3. Watch your form.

Make sure when you’re lifting you aren’t compensating. Pay attention to movement at the feet, ankles and knees. If you’re out of alignment below the hips your body will true and compensate to correct for the problems below.

4. Ensure full range of motion.

Injuries happen more on landing than on take off. There is also a greater chance of them happening at the end ranges of motion. So it is important to be as strong as possible in these range. Plus in some movements, such as the squat, you don’t get full glute activation until you reach a certain depth.

Keep these tips in mind to have mobile, strong and healthy hips.


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