Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Getting hip to leg injuries

TRIA shares 5 home exercises for healthy hips and knees

This coming season will be my third year working as Sports Medicine Staff for the Minnesota Magicians, sixth season working junior hockey for the North American Hockey League. Junior hockey can be very strenuous on a player’s body, especially younger players new to the league and are not used to the pace or the grueling season of the NAHL.

With this, injuries usually come about. Most of the injuries that I see and deal with week to week, tend to be in the hip region. Groin strain, hip flexor strain, quad contusion and hamstring strain are just a few of these types of hip injuries that can occur either acutely or from overuse.

Hockey players spend most of their time standing on forward-angled skates with their torsos upright and their hips flexed, a position that usually leads to large quads, inactive glutes and tight hip flexors.

Unfortunately, living in this position further tightens the hip flexors and removes the glutes—the largest and most powerful muscle group in your body—from the skating stride

The body always takes the path of least resistance, so the active hip flexors usually take over for weak and inactive glutes. Your hip flexors help you push off the ice and pull your knee up toward your chest in preparation for your next stride. Although they were not intended to contribute to backside mechanics, the hip flexors now do so at the expense of your spine.

In reality, the glutes should be the first muscles that fire when you push off the ice, followed by the external rotators, the quadriceps (which straighten the knee) and the hamstrings (which extend the hip)

Below are a few exercises for strength and stability that will keep hips and knees healthy. These can be done easily at home with minimal equipment.

Crawling: Forward and Reverse Bear Crawls- Crawling mimics the movement pattern of skating, while training the core to remain completely motionless. It reinforces stride mechanics, and you get a killer core workout.

Single-leg Goblet Squat: When you stand on one leg, the muscles attached to your hip work overtime to keep you stable, improving your core and hip support. This exercise should be done with body weight first working on proper mechanics before an athlete should load up with weight. Sit back and down into your hip (like sitting on a chair), then drive your hips up and forward as you stand back up.

Eccentric Leg Curls: Strong hamstrings reduce the risk of groin pulls, because they reinforce co-contraction of the hamstrings and glutes. These can be done from a bridge position laying on your back, making sure that your feet can slide on a surface. Contract your glutes as you bridge your hips up, flexing your knees and bringing your heels toward you. Eccentric phase comes when you slowly lower and extend your knees back down, should take 3-5 seconds.

Single leg Deadlift: The slightly bent knee position of the Single-Leg Deadlift mimics the position that the leg and hip assume during the contact phase of skating. You promote proper muscle recruitment and a faster, more efficient stride. Key here is maintaining a neutral pelvis and not arching low back or allowing any hip rotation.

About TRIA Orthopaedic Center

TRIA is a comprehensive center for orthopaedic medicine, providing incomparable clinical and surgical care, world-class research, and innovative programs. TRIA Orthopaedic Center has over 40 highly-trained physicians with a variety of sub-specialties such as sports medicine, acute injury, shoulder, hip, knee, spine, hand and wrist, foot and ankle, and fractures. TRIA’s sports medicine specialists have served as official team physicians for Minnesota’s professional sports teams for over 25 years. TRIA offers walk-in care through the Acute Injury Clinic, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week, no appointment needed. From diagnosis to treatment, to rehabilitation and even surgery, it is all at one convenient location at I-494 and France Avenue in Bloomington, Minnesota. For more information, visit tria.com.