Posts Tagged ‘force’

So what do you think about all the talk of head injuries in the media lately?

Are head injuries on the rise? Or are we simply getting better at diagnosing when someone has an injury? Or maybe as the salaries of the players keep getting bigger teams are realizing the need to protect their investment?

Case in point…

Reebok recently sponsored a conference on head injuries attended by the NHL, AHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. Reebok coincidentally has a $10 million endorsement deal with Crosby who’s been sidelined with an injury since January.

But besides the increased imaging technologies to detect head injuries and the monetary value of the contracts associated with the top tier hockey players why are we seeing more head injuries?

Part of it has to do with the speed of the game.

Right now old-time players around North America are flipping over in their rocking chairs as I make the claim the game is faster today than it has ever been.

Here’re 4 reasons why.

1. The players are bigger, stronger and can generate higher levels of force than they could a generation ago. A stronger player has the capacity to generate force in less time and thus is more powerful.

2. The tactical aspect of the game has changed. Think back to the time of Bobby Orr or even Paul Coffee. Players used to be able to wind up around their goal and then go all the way weaving through the opposition.

Now it’s more of a game of dump and chase. Or a long pass from the red line that is deflected into the opponent’s end in order to get in a chance. Or a shoot in on a powerful to control the perimeter and set up a scoring chance.

3. The energetics of the game have changed. Not so many years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to be on the ice for one or two minute shifts. And this wasn’t because they were caught out there during a penalty kill. Instead this was the regular length of a shift.

Now how fast do you think you can go if you had to last for 2 minutes. 80%? 90%? Maybe 95%?

Whatever that top end time limit was it definitely wasn’t your 100% and meant going much less than your top speed. Compare this to today’s shifts where players are looking to head to the bench after 40 seconds. Can you see how a shorter shift lends itself to being able to go faster than a longer one?

4. The rules of the game have changed. Previous to the last collective bargaining agreement defencemen used to be able to clear opponents out from in front of the net. And players skating through the neutral zone would feel the tug on on their jersey or a slight hook of a stick to disrupt their timing.

Not anymore. All of the tricks that were previously used to slow up an opponent have been dealt with as a result of new rules for officials to call any attempts to impede the flow of the game.

So in the end you’ve got bigger, faster players that are using a dump and chase style of play where the refs are looking to ensure the speed of the game is not disrupted.

Is it any surprise head injuries are on the rise?

Especially when you consider one of the young stars of the game never uses a protective device that would help absorb much of the force of a head injury if he ever suffered one.

Unfortunately for these reasons head injuries are here to stay and will only increase in severity and number.


The other day I was training a young hockey player and he noticed someone in the gym performing a pull-up style exercise.

And I say ‘pull-up style’ because this wasn’t your traditional pull-up.
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Have you ever suffered an injury and were surprised at how easily it happened? Or maybe it wasn’t as serious as an injury but you’ve simply noticed that one side of your body feels tighter than the other? Or maybe one side is slower to recover than the other? What about feeling stronger and more dominant on one side of the body? Have you ever noticed any of these things?
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Hi there: The other day I had a session with a number of younger athletes. And we were working on some plyometrics. But plyometrics are a funny thing. Because what we normally think of as a plyometric is a much narrower inclusion of all the movements we perform during the day which actually are plyometric.
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STEVE STAMKOS scored his second goal of the game for Canada at the expense of MARTIN PRUSEK of the Czech Republic at the 2009 IIHF World Championships in Switzerland. Canada defeated the Czechs 5-1 in the qualification round match.

If you’re watching hockey this time of year most likely it’s the NHL playoffs. Occasionally I’ll catch an update on what’s happening at the world championship but it’s hard to match the intensity and excitement of the NHL.

One of the updates I did catch about the world championships was that Steven Stamkos got injured in the game against Switzerland. It’s bad enough Canada lost 4-1 but they also lost a 51 goal scorer along the way. Here’s what happened.

Stamkos went in to throw a check and caught the elbow of the Swiss d-man in the mouth. Normally Stamkos wears a mouth guard when playing in the NHL but it was hard to tell if he had one in during the hit or if it fell out. So what does this have to do with hockey training?

In 2008 I was down to Colorado for the International Conference on Strength Training hosted by the NSCA. I remember seeing a presentation talking about something called ‘concurrent activation potentiation’. What this study looked at was the difference clenching on a mouthguard had on vertical jump performance.

What they found was that when they compared clenching on a mouthguard versus maintaining on an open mouth when performing a vertical jump , the mouth guard made a big differenece.  The group that clenched was able to generate a force 19.5 % more quickly than those with an open mouth. As well the time it took to generate a peak force during the jump was 20.15% less for those that clenched than those that didn’t.

So what exactly is concurrent activation potentiation (CAP)? Well CAP simply means that the muscles that perform movement are more effective when muscles not directly involved in the lift are engaged. A few other examples include squeezing the grip or bracing the core. As you use one of these methods the ability to generate  force more quickly is improved as is the time to reach peak force development. And in the case of the previous study 20 % more.

Now, I’m not suggesting that by clenching on a mouth guard you will increase all of your lifts 20%. What I am saying though is that you will put up bigger numbers in the gym by doing so. And this shouldn’t come as a surpise. Imagine someone stepping up to the bar to perform a deadlift that looks as though they just woke up. Their eyes are barely open. Their body position is slack and lazy. There is no conviction in the person’s body language that they will perform a successful lift. And even if they do succeed the chances of injury are probably greater. Compare this to the following situation.

The athlete performs 2 or 3 tucks jumps before stepping up to the bar. They position their feet under the bar and imagine their feet to be like those of a monkey and are gripping at the floor. As the hands grasp the bar they envision the bar being made of chalk and so could be crushed in their hands. They inhale and hold a deep breath creating intra-abdominal pressure and a strong brace through the core. Lastly as they bite down on the mouth guard the lips separate slightly into a snarl as the eyes turn evil and squint slightly. There is no doubt this athlete will pull the bar from the floor with ease.

Ok so I had a little fun with the imagery on the second one. Honestly I almost got goose bumps just writing that paragraph. But seriously using a mouth guard doesn’t have to just be for on the ice. Incorporate clenching, gripping, bracing and other CAP techniques into your training to take your strength training to the next level.

Here’s the citation for anyone that would like to read up on this study.

Ebben WP et al. Jaw clenching results in concurrent activation potentiation during the countermovement jump. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Nov;22(6):1850-4.