Yoga, with its calm, slow movements, might not seem like it would be helpful for hockey players at first glance. In reality, the eastern exercise discipline provides several benefits to hockey players. Yoga can boost flexibility as well as improve core strength, both key attributes for hockey players. Since so much of yoga is stretching it keeps muscles loose and healthy. It is the perfect post season physical activity to keep you in shape and prepare for the next season.
Some days, it’s just not possible to put in a full hour and a half of yoga. But most days will allow for this 10- to 15-minute sequence that stretches the back, hamstrings, and hips, problem areas for many people. Over time, you will see the positive effect these stretches have on your health and ultimately your performance.
The following are designed to improve your back, hips and legs which because of the body position hockey players have to adopt are important.
- Start with Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic Tilt Position.
Lie on your back with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor. This is your neutral position, with the natural curve of the lumbar spine causing the low back to be slightly elevated from the floor.
- On an exhale, gently rock your hips towards your face. Your butt will not actually leave the floor, but you will feel your low back press into the floor. You are essentially taking the curve out of the low back.
Think of the pelvis as a bowl of water. When you do the pelvic tilt, the water would be spilling towards your belly.
- After a few seconds, inhale and return to your neutral position.
- Repeat this movement 5 to 10 times.
The first few pelvic tilts reveal any traces of low back pain but after 10 to 20 rounds, the pain is gone. Do them slowly and keep going until the movement feels fluid and good
- Cat-Cow Stretches Warm the Spine
Cow and Cat position.
- Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backward through the tail bone. This is the position of a neutral spine.
- Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine.
The cat-cow stretch consists of moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension). It’s a basic motion, but one that is enormously beneficial in preventing backpain and maintaining a healthy spine which is necessary especially for hockey players. Each movement is done in conjunction with either an inhalation or exhalation of the breath.
- Downward Facing Dog For the Whole Body
Downward Facing Dog position
- Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
- Curl your toes under and push back through your hands to lift your hips and straighten your legs.
- Spread your fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
- Outwardly rotate your upper arms to broaden the collarbones.
- Let your head hang and move your shoulder blades away from your ears towards your hips.
- Engage your quadriceps strongly to take the burden of your body’s weight off your arms. This action goes a long way toward making this a resting pose.
- Rotate your thighs inward, keep your tail high, and sink your heels towards the floor.
- Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in down dog in order the get the heels to the floor.
When you feel ready, hold the posture for 5 to 10 breaths
The benefits of this exercise are that it stretches and strengthens the whole body. Can help relieve back pain..
- Lunge to Stretch Your Hips and Hamstrings
- From downward facing dog step your right foot up to inside your right hand on an inhalation. If your foot doesn’t make it all the way up to the top of your mat, move it into position with the right hand. It’s important that you build the pose from the ground up by setting up your feet at opposite ends of your mat.
- Bend your right knee so that it is directly over your right ankle with the right thigh parallel to the floor. Take particular care that your knee does not get in front of your ankle since this places the knee in a vulnerable position. A little behind the ankle is ok if this is as deep as is comfortable.
- Line your fingertips up with your toes.
- Flatten your palms or tent your hands to come up onto the fingertips, whichever allows you to open your chest forward.
- Roll your shoulder blades down your back, lengthen your spine, and bring your gaze to the horizon line.
- Keep your back leg very straight and strong. Extend from your back heel up through the crown of your head. Stay on the ball of your back foot.
- Hold up to five breaths, then return back to downward dog on an exhalation.
- Repeat with the left leg forward.
- Pigeon Pose
- From downward facing dog, bring the right leg up into a down dog split.
- Bend your right knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your food down as you would for a lunge, bring your right knee to the floor on the outside of your right hand. The right shin may angle back towards the left hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your flexibility.
- Release your left knee to your mat. The front of your left leg is as flat on the floor as possible. Take a look backwards and make sure that your left foot is not sickling inward. It should point straight back.
- Square your hips towards the front of your mat.
- Take padding (a folded blanket works well) under the right side of your butt as necessary to make the pose more comfortable.
The benefits of this exercise are it stretches the thighs, groins, back, piriformis, psoas. For those ageing hockey players it may be difficult to do however if you try to do you will really notice a
What is the secret of success? Do not give up doing them and by next season you will not feel like a season older but a season younger.