/>By: Korey Jay
Autumn is upon us. The air is becoming more brisk, the leaves are changing colour on the trees, and the hockey season has begun! In my opinion nothing in sports can beat the beginning of the hockey season, when every team has a blank slate and every game is important. Whether it be professional or Junior C or house-league, players and teams around the country are preparing for their own piece of glory. However, before lacing up those skates and taking to the ice it would be wise to take a few precautions to avoid injury.
In my capacity as a Chiropractor I have heard all manner of stories related to injuries sustained at the commencement of a new sports season, and in Canada that sports season is often hockey. Injuries I have dealt with either directly or indirectly have ranged from the comical to the embarrassing to the potentially life-threatening. In my experience the best way to avoid these types of injuries is to prepare properly for a new season.
The most important piece of advice I can give anyone starting a new season of any sport s to begin training before the start of the season. Athletics in general involve varying degrees of movement, all of which tax the cardiovascular system. Several weeks before the start of the season you should start strengthening your cardiovascular system. This can range from taking walks to jogging to doing wind sprints, based on your level of overall fitness and age. Doing so will allow you to avoid any undue stresses placed upon your heart and lungs, and will give you a leg up on your competition.
Alright, so you have commenced your cardiovascular training and now have more endurance, what is the next step? Train your sport-specific muscles. Hockey, for instance, is a sport which employs ballistic movements of the trunk and leg musculature. Therefore, it is vital to train the muscles of the trunk and legs and specifically the groin muscles in order to prevent injury and increase performance. Training should consist of weight-bearing exercises as well as plyometric training to enhance speed and agility.
Future posts in this series will discuss different exercises, weight-bearing or plyometric, to employ for different sports.
What else is vital for success and performance of the prospective athlete before the season and during? Chiropractic care, of course! Chiropractors utilize different soft tissue and manipulative techniques to alleviate pain, increase range of motion, and improve functionality of any and all of the joint complexes of the body. Nagging hip pain, a wonky knee, and pulled groin are all examples of injuries that can be aided by Chiropractic care so that you can keep playing for longer and with more performance. There is a reason that every major sports team in North America employs Chiropractors on their staffs.
Once the season is over with, put away your hockey bag and play something else! Hockey is a great sport, but it is only one of many. A huge mistake that many people make is to focus on only one sport, and to never participate in other sports or fitness activities. This can lead to over-development of certain muscle groups and underdevelopment of others, a recipe for injury if ever there was one! Also, constantly wear and tear on the same joint complexes and musculature will inevitably lead to injury. This is especially true of children, who are in their formative years and require variety in their activities to prevent injury. Year-round training in one sport for a young player is unhealthy, unwise, and ultimately ineffective for proper performance. Skills learned playing one sport, which utilizes different muscles and joints, can be translated over to another sport. Examples of this are wide and varied, including a hockey player kicking the puck around in his/her skates or a wide receiver “boxing out” a defender to get a better angle on a thrown pass.
Taking the time to approach a sport properly, and taking the necessary precautions, will ultimately lead to a more productive and enjoyable experience. Simple rules are the most effective for preparing your body for the rigours of a long season. Above all have fun, after all it is just a game!
Photo Credits: Nedral