Improve Your Ice Hockey Performance With These 4 Stretches
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Ice hockey is a fast-moving team sport. Hockey players wear ice skates and move with great speed and skill across the ice. Hockey players must have excellent balance to play while standing on two metal blades on a sheet of ice. Hockey is a rough sport, with a great deal of body contact between the players. Since there is a lot of physical contact in hockey, it’s important to stay strong and limber on the ice.
Here are four poses borrowed from yoga to help you stretch before or after your next game.
Why it’s good: High lunge is an active pose that strengthens the quads, hamstrings, groins and glutes. It’s also a great stretch for the hip flexors, which helps players to find bursts of speed on the ice.
How to do this: Step one foot backwards into a lunge position. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle with your knee directly above your heel. Straighten your back leg and lift your back heel off the ground. Keep your hips square to the front of the mat. Keep the weight off your front leg grounded in the front heel. Raise your arms overhead while slightly dropping your ribs. Relax your shoulders and draw your ribs down and in as you reach through your fingertips. Hold for 8-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.
Why it’s good: Strengthens lower legs, hips, and core and builds balance. This simple but challenging pose helps you practice your balance on the ice.
How to do this: From high lunge, start to lean your torso forward and reach your fingers in front of you. This pose mimics the explosive movement of sprinting on the ice. When you’re ready, lift your back leg off the floor to balance on your front foot. Imagine that you’re making your body into a capital letter “T” with one leg back and your arms reaching in front of you. Practicing this pose will help you to fall less while in the rink.
Why it’s good: Enjoy this twist to help release the back and shoulders. It lengthens and relaxes your spine and can help strengthen your abdominal muscles.
How to do this: Lie on your back. Lift your knees toward the ceiling, stacked over the hips. Your shins are parallel to the earth. Let both knees fall to one side while keeping both shoulders on the floor. Let the hips stack on top of each other. Melt into the twist. Hold as long as you like.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Why it’s good: Reclining bound angle pose is a restorative hip opener that increases flexibility in the hips and range of motion in the legs.
How to do this: From supine twist, while still lying on your back, extend your legs long in front of you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together to touch. Your knees fold out wide like the pages of a book. If this pose feels funky on your knees, use some blocks, pillows, or blankets under your thighs for support. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe.
Try these stretches with your young hockey player before or after a game or practice. This mix of poses is a good way to both strengthen and release the right muscles that a hockey player needs to perform well. You might not be able to keep up with them on the ice but you can enjoy moving and breathing together on solid ground.
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Sarah Kostin is a freelance copywriter, published author, life coach, and yoga teacher. An exercise and outdoor fanatic herself, Sarah has a passion for writing about health, wellness, fitness, yoga, and living your best life.