Tight, immobile hips bother practically every hockey player at all levels of competition.
Being tight in the front of your hips can lead to a bunch of nasty side effects, such as diminished skating power, increased risk of groin strains and in some cases, back pain. Spending hours flexed at the hip in a skating stance each week does nothing but magnify the issue. So don’t think that tightness will magically disappear on its own. You’ll need to do some targeted mobility work to really combat the problem.
Lucky for you, that mobility work doesn’t have to take long to be effective. Add these three exercises into your hockey warm-up to become a more athletic player on the ice and avoid the issues that come from playing in pain.
1. The 3-Way Valslide Lunge
With a Valslide under your right foot, slide your foot backwards to perform a rear lunge. Next, slide it out to your right. Finally, slide it diagonally behind your left leg. Perform 6 total reps before switching legs.
2. The Squat to External/Internal Rotation
Drop into a regular squat. While at the bottom, push your right knee out first (external rotation), before bringing it in (internal rotation). Your goal is to touch the floor with your knee in internal rotation while keeping your left foot on the ground. Stand up and repeat with the left leg for a total of 5 reps per leg.
And what if you can’t touch your knee to the ground?
That means you are very immobile. Start doing this drill daily and you’ll soon see some big improvement. Improving hip internal rotation is especially important for hockey goalies who, due to spending a considerable amount of time in the butterfly position, need a greater degree of hip internal rotation than defenders or forwards.
3. The Cossack Squat
Starting in a wide position with your toes turned out, sink into a deep lateral squat. Your calf should be touching the same side hamstring at the bottom. If you can’t get this deep, you’ve got serious mobility (and strength) issues that need fixing.
Keep the heel of the working foot on the ground at all times while you turn the toes of the other foot up toward the sky. Switch sides until you have completed five reps on both legs.
Perform these three exercises in a circuit fashion for two or three rounds before on-ice practice to improve mobility and get your hips ready for explosive play.