This one strategy will reduce back strain in hockey players.

injury prevention for hockey playersBack in 2009 we went over some ways that muscle imbalances can contribute to back pain, including some stretches hockey players can use to reduce the imbalance.  Today, I am going to give you a strategy hockey players can use to reduce back strain right from the bench.

Look at the players sitting beside you the next time they are on the bench.  Are they hunched forward, caught up in the action or are they sitting up tall with a neutral spine?  That’s right, they are slouched forward.

Do any of you ever get a sore back as the game goes on?  Does your back feel kind of achy in the upper portion of your low back?  This could be due to ‘creep’ in the muscles supporting the back.

When a hockey player sits with a rounded spine the tissues in the back go into a lengthened position under the weight of your body.   This ‘creep’ takes out some of the elasticity from those muscles.  Even though it is not a huge overload (not like squatting with a rounded back), but that repetitive or sustained application of the ‘safe load’ can still lower the tissue tolerance of the lower back musculature.  In other words, if you sit with crappy posture on the bench your are reducing the resilience of your back to injury.

According to Dr. Stuart McGill, it takes a hockey player 30-minutes to regain the elasticity in the back muscles once they are out of that harmful posture.

You may be saying, “yeah, but my back feels great when I am squatting in the gym”.  That is great, your back muscles may be strong, but that does not mean they have good endurance and for the back musculature, endurance is exactly what you need.  Want to see how much endurance your back muscles lack?  Do this experiment…

Imagine a string coming right out the top of your head and up to the ceiling.  Now imagine that there is just enough tension on that string that if you did not sit up as tall as you could, the string would pull on your hair – OUCH!  Now hold that position for 5-minutes – are your muscles screaming by the time you hit 3:30?  See the difference between strength and stamina.

Now that you see your lack of endurance and the impact your poor posture on the bench can have on your back, you are probably wondering how to train these muscles. Is there a special piece of equipment you can use?  Is there a supplement?  What about a machine at the gym?  Nope. Nope. And nope.

Here is what you need to do to build endurance on your back and increase the failure tolerance of your lower back – sit up tall.  All the time!  Start small, thing about standing tall when you are walking from one place to another, think about standing up tall whenever the coach is talking on the ice.  Sit up tall every time you are sitting at a red light, everytime you are on the cell phone, when you are on email.  Get the idea, work it into your day at regular intervals.  Give it about 8-weeks and it will start to feel ‘normal’ for you.

Cheers,
Maria

PS- don’t forget to get your Christmas present from me…a complete dryland training program for hockey players – yes this is the one I usually sell for $97

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Maria Mountain

Maria Mountain is a Fitness Coach and the owner of Revolution Conditioning in London, Ontario. She helps hockey players from AAA to professionals compete at their highest level while reducing their risk of injury. Dedicated to athletes who want to work hard, but train smart.

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