Archive for the ‘Recovery for Hockey’ Category

So with the Rangers-Devils series the media keeps brining up the question about fatigue.

And John Tortorella keeps dismissing this as an issue.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Tortorella is answering the question the only way possible. By denying that fatigue is an issue for his players.

But the fact remains that players on both sides are feeling the cummulative effects of playing nine months already. Well everyone except Ranger call-up Chris Kreider.

So what goes on in between games to off-set the effects of fatigue? What are players on both sides, as well as the Western Conference, doing to enhance their recovery?

Below are 8 examples going on behind the scenes to get ready for the next game.

And the cool thing is these are all things you can apply to your training to feel better, move better and achieve better results.

Recovery Tip #1Nutrition

The key to applying this tip to its full potential is timing. Post workout you need to be drinking back a recovery shake with a 3-4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein. The protein source could be 20 grams of whey, 6 grams of branch chain amino acids or 2 grams of leucine. All will get the job done.

But keep in mind that this needs to happen right away. As soon as you step off the ice. Not 30 or 45 minutes later. The sooner the better.

A few years I stopped in to check in with the Avs in Denver. After their game the strength & conditioning coach had their shakes on a ledge in the dressing room with their names written on tape. He started preparing these in the 3rd period so they were all ready immediately after the game.

Recovery Tip #2- Hydration

After training or playing you will lose water. As little as 2% dehydration will lead to a decrement in performance. And it prolong and minize your recovery.

It is important that you weigh yourself pre and post to track your water loss. Just make sure this is done with only a towel on so wet clothing is not factored into post-training weighing. You will  need to drink 2 glasses of water for every pound you’ve lost.

Recovery Tip #3Myofascial Release

Whether you are playing pro and make access to a massage therapist or use a roller of some type you can facilitate your recovery with myofascial release. Myo simply leans muscle and fascia is the tissue that links all of the muscles in the body.

Foam rolling is one way to increase blood flow and extensibility of the tissue. This helps speed up the recovery process and allows for your best performance next time on the ice.

Recovery Tip #4Sleep

Too often players consider sleep only the night before a game. However regular, quality sleep is similar to your nutrition. You can’t wake up Saturday morning for an evening game and simply try and eat the best food possible.

These are habits that need to be established months and years ahead of time. The more regular your sleep is and the better quality it is the more benefit you’ll get from your sleep.

And the extra benefit is you’ll have more of a reserve to draw on for games that run into overtime. Or for travel that goes through the night. You will feel the effects of these types of scenarios less when you have your sleep already in order.

Recovery Tip #5Parasympathetic Activities

Are you familiar with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?

If not there’s an easy way to remember which is which. The sympathetic has to do with ‘flight or fight’. And the parasympathetic has to do with ‘rest and digest’.

Coming off the ice after a game the sympathetic system is ramped up. Cortisol, lactic acid, lactate and other waste products are all flowing through the vascular system. And these put the brakes on recovery and feel loose, fresh and ready to go.

On way to reverse this is to ramp up the parasympathetic nervous system. This is done by doing what you enjoy. If I played in the NHL I’d be watching Dumb & Dumber and going to comedy clubs. I love to laugh and it’s my favourite way to blow off steam.

For everyone it’s going to be different. Figure out what you enjoy doing then do this to take your mind off the competition, to relax and enhance your recovery.

Recovery Tips #6, 7, 8 – ???

I mentioned there are 8 tips to enhance your recovery.

Want the next three tips?

And want more specifics on the above 5 tips? More specifics on the nutritional and hydration guidelines?

Pick up a copy of and you’ll get these plus everything else you need for your off-season training.

If you have any questions post them in the comments section below.


Do  you have a favorite post workout drink? Or maybe something you always grab after a game to chug back?

Hopefully you answered ‘yes’ and hopefully it’s something healthy.

Because here’s the problem.

Many players will finish a game, practice or training session and that’s it. There is no post-workout shake or drink. They simply hit the showers and then grab a meal once they get home or the restaurant when on the road.

That’s too bad.

By not having a post-workout shake they are delaying the recovery process. Plus it helps control the level of muscle damage as evidenced by reduced levels of creatine kinase. And so they won’t be as well rested and ready to go in the next game if they had a drink right after.

And right after is the key. As soon as you leave the ice. Or right after the last rep in the weight room.

I remember a few years ago visiting a colleague who was the strength coach for the Colorado Avalanche. We were watching the game together until about half way through the third period when he excused himself to go make the post-game shakes for the players. Sakic and company would then have a drink ready for them right after the final buzzer.

So what should this post-workout drink look like? Honestly it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy. What we’re looking for is a carb to protein ratio around 4:1. And if you’re on the road and don’t have access to a kitchen, sink, blender etc there’s something else that works just fine. Chocolate milk.

Really? Yes and a recent study look at how effective chocolate milk was at enhancing recovery.

What they did was use two different drink samples. One was chocolate milk and the other was a carb and protein mixture. Both drinks had the same amount of calories as well as the same of carbs and protein.

The researchers had a group of cyclists perform high intensity sprints after which they were given chocolate milk or the carb plus protein drinks. These drinks were consumed immediately after finishing the sprints as well as two hours later.

15 to 18 hours later they had the cyclists do another physical test. For hockey players imagine playing in a tournament and finishing a game Sat at 6 pm and then playing again Sun at 9 am  or 12 noon. A week later the cyclists repeated the test only this time they drank the opposite drink from the first week. If they had chocolate milk the first time now they had the carb plus protein drink. And vice versa.

What did they find?

There was no significant difference in time to exhaustion of the cyclists nor was there a significant difference of the levels of creatine kinase in their blood.

In other words chocolate milk was as effective as a commercially available protein recovery supplement in terms of recovery and minimizing muscle damage.

Here’s the citation for this study:

Pritchett, K, Bishop, P, Pritchett, R, Green, M, and Katica, C. Acute effects of chocolate milk and a commercial recovery beverage on postexercise recovery indices and endurance cycling performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 34:1017 – 1022. 2009.

And here’s the nutritional info for 1 cup of chocolate milk:

energy 192 cal

protein 9 g

carb 27 g

fat 6 g

So when you’re stuck for what to have after training or a game grab a chocolate milk. It has good dose of protein, a decent carb to protein and it doesn’t hurt that it tastes great as well.



A few weeks ago I wrote about how I did a workout on some sand dunes. And part of the workout involved wearing a weighted vest. Since that post I’ve had the chance to throw the vest on a few more times and have noticed something interesting that I hadn’t considered earlier. I learned that running sand dunes helped fix my shoulders.

At this point you might be wondering ‘what did I miss?’ He was talking about running sand dunes and now is switching over to talking about improved shoulder function. How the heck are these two related? Let me explain.

In my younger days I used to train as a bodybuilder. I bought the magazines, took the supplements and performed the isolated, single joint exercises bodybuilders love in order to feel the muscle. After a few years of this my joints weren’t loving me so much. Particularly my shoulders and my AC joint specifically.

You see I was in the habit of doing ‘mirror workouts’. Biceps, chest, traps, abs, quads etc or anything you could see when you looked in the mirror. As a result I had a pretty unbalanced physique with way too much open-chain pressing motions, too many upper trap exercises and too many internal rotation exercises.

And as long as I continued with my ‘mirror workouts’ I continued to have issues with my shoulders. I’m not sure which came first but eventually I realized I wouldn’t be 250 lbs and 4 % bodyfat and that there was a smarter, safer and more effective way to train. I start to balance out the back side of physique and added in some external rotations to realign my shoulders.

And things improved quite a bit. I could press heavy weight. There was no soreness or discomfort but I learned something that showed me I wasn’t all the way there. And it had to do with how I was breathing.

You see all the years of upright rows, shrugs and basically anything that lifted the shoulders to the ears was stimulating my upper traps and levators. So I developed over active ‘shrugging-type’ muscles. And when I was fatigued I would take deep breaths and my chest would rise and fall. Since I had over-active traps and levators when I need to get air I would fire these muscles first, as I had trained them so often, and consequently my chest would lift and fall. But this isn’t the way we should breath.

If we take a deep breath properly our chest and shoulders shouldn’t move. Instead we should notice the movement at the stomach as the diaphragm pulls down as we inhale and rises as we exhale.

When I was wearing the weighted vest I secured the vest as tightly as possible around my torso. And since the vest is pulled on over the head it rests on the shoulders. As I began to fatigue I realized I needed to get air but couldn’t do so by lifting my shoulders and expanding my chest due to the constriction of the vest. The only alternative to me was to relax my chest and breath properly through my stomach and diaphragm.

Before you rush out to throw on a vest and experience this yourself practice breathing through your stomach and diaphragm. Look to minimize and eliminate the involvement of the chest and shoulders. And lastly, pay attention to the impact this new breathing style has on the health of your shoulders.


sleeping athlete

As the first round of the playoffs wraps up the match-ups for round two are being set. Having eliminated the Kings in 6 the Canucks now look forward to a rematch of last year’s playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. But rather than look ahead to the next round I want to take a step back and look at something from the previous series.

After game 4 in LA, which the Canucks won 6-4, Vancouver took the unusual decision of over-nighting in LA after the game. This might seem as unusual for some as game 5 would be back in Vancouver. Wouldn’t the Canucks want to get home as soon as possible for their next game? Wouldn’t they feel more comfortable in their own beds? Don’t teams normally fly out right after away games? The answer to all of the these is probably yes. Or at least it used to be.

For the past couple of years the Canucks have been consulting a sleep doctor and they base their travel and accomodation schedule on his recommendations.  So as  a result, the Canucks opted to stay Wednesday in LA and fly back to Vancouver Thursday. Here are some of the possible reasons why.

A typical west coast game starts at 7 pm PST and goes at least until 930 pm PST unless there’s overtime. Once obligatory post-game media interviews, showers and post-game business are completed it’s probably closer to 11 PM. Even flying from a private terminal without the same security, line-ups and delays of commercial air travel probably means an arrival into Vancouver no earlier than 2 am and bed time closer to 3 am. Once there is disrupted and incomplete sleep we start to see the following repercussions.

When we are sleep deprived we will have delayed response times. Quick reflexes and responses is such a key to winning face-offs, to beating an opponent to the puck and for Luongo to make an opportune save. Take away somebody’s sleep and they don’t make the same, quick plays as they would if well rested.

Sleep is when we recover. And the playoffs can be a very taxing time of year, both physically and mentally. If the demands are that high and the need for recovery is that great than you wouldn’t want to minimize your team’s ability to be fully recovered for the next game by restricting their sleep.

There is also a strong correlation between various hormones in the body and the amount of sleep we get. When we are sleep deprived we notice that the messages that tell us when we are hungry and full are out of whack. So we feel hungry sooner than we should and we feel full later than we should causing us to over eat. Add to this that the stress hormone cortisol is elevated with sleep deprivation whereas testosterone and growth hormone are lowered and we can quickly see how important missing a few hours of sleep can be on our hormonal status.

Lastly, if there’s one thing hockey players like it’s consistency. It’s beyond ritualistic and to the point of superstitious. They have a particular pre-game meal. The get dressed the same way with the same lucky socks. They are lead out for warm-up by the same player every game. The list goes on. In keep with these traditions and rituals it make sense for teams to want to establish the same consistency with respect to the rest and recovery schedules of their players.

Obviously there is huge merit to ensuring a hockey player is well rested and fully recovered prior to each game. The same applies to your off-season hockey training as well. Ensure that you get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night and strive for the consistency of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. While you may not be competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup you can steal a page out of the Canucks program and apply it to your own hockey training.


Are you following the NHL playoffs? If you haven’t there have been some great games so far this post-season. Some years it’s hard to get excited during the first round when a team gets up 2-0 or 3-0. And that might even be when you’re following your team. But this year everything is so close. We didn’t have to wait at all to start seeing games go to overtime. And the 8th seeds on both sides are giving the top seeds a run for their money by stealing the first game and home ice advantage.

Being from BC I’m going to follow the Canucks more than any other team. And it seems like everyone else around here is as well. There is always some extra excitement when the playoffs roll around and the Canucks are in it. This year there seems to be an after-glow from the Olympic gold medal game in February that has carried over to the start of the playoffs. But I’m not sure about the Canucks chances.

The Kings are playing really well right now. They’ve good some good young defencemen. Their goalie didn’t show any nerves on the road in Vancouver for his first playoff experience and is comfortable at home. Plus add to that their power-play is on fire and their key guys are getting it done for them.

The Canucks on the other hand have shown spurts of energy but not enough to be leading the series. And Luongo in particular did not play well in Game 3. It would hard to fault him on the first goal which he probably didn’t see. On the second he didn’t seem to do a very good job of controlling the rebound. He played it off his blocker right to Handzus. While it would be hard to fault Luongo on the third goal the fourth was a mental breakdown. Had the paddle of his stick been on the ice he would have made the save. Instead he wasn’t set or prepared for the shot, gave up the goal and got yanked as a result.

So what’s going on with Luongo? He’s given up 12 goals in 5 periods at the Staples Center. Sure he has faced some power plays and maybe the skaters in front of him haven’t been doing the best job of clearing rebounds and letting him see the shots. But maybe there’s more to it.

Apparently Luongo is the type of player who doesn’t skip a practice. While veterans and certain key players may rest during optional skates, Luongo takes part. Add to this grind of the long travel schedule the Canucks experienced this year plus all the games Luongo played during the Olympics and it could be that he needs a rest. The lack of concentration on the last goal and the difficulties he has had playing in LA might suggest the last thing he needs is more time on the ice.

Obviously the Canucks will go back with him tonight for game 4. He is their captain and when he’s on his game, arguably their best player. Hopefully he takes some time for himself, gets away from the arena for a bit and is able to relax. They need him to be on for game 4. Because if he doesn’t play the way he is capable the Canucks will be in a deep hole going back to Vancouver. And having taken both games 1 and 2 to overtime in Vancouver the Kings have no doubts they can compete in GM place.