Mobility exercises to prevent common hockey injuries

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Field hockey is a sport with high physiological demands and requires aerobic and anaerobic endurance, speed, agility and power.

Field hockey is a sport with high physiological demands and requires aerobic and anaerobic endurance, speed, agility and power.

Upper body strength assists powerful hitting of the ball and a strong tackling position, while lower body strength and stability is essential for the lunging and frequent change of direction that is required.

A study by Lythe and Kilding (2011), found that elite male hockey players on average cover around 8km per game (2 x 35-minute halves). Included in this distance, players performed on average 34 sprints, lasting over three seconds each at speeds greater than 19km/h. This reveals the level of high speed running, anaerobic endurance and aerobic fitness that is required for hockey.

ACC reports injuries from hockey account for more than $6 million in claims (July 2014 – June 2015), with back and spine injuries, hip, upper leg and thigh and knee injuries accounting for $2.5 million. Strength and conditioning programmes to reduce injury and improve performance should include exercises that functionally strengthen the legs, core, upper body and include mobility work for the hips and spine to reduce the risk of back injury. A variety of lunges and squats can be included along with cable rotations for the core and assisted or body weight chin-ups for upper body strength.

Below are my four top mobility exercises to improve spinal, hip, knee, upper back and shoulder mobility for reducing the risk of injury.

WindmillKneeling windmill – Begin with your hands flat on the floor and up on your toes in a plank position. Place your right foot on the outside of your right hand and proceed to stretch your right arm up and twist your lower back, following your hand with your eyes and moving your neck.  Place your hand back on the floor and return to a plank position and repeat on the other side. Perform x6-8 each side.

EagleEagle facedown – Lay face down with your hands in a comfortable position, move your right leg to the left side of your body. Open the right hip by lifting the knee up, place the toe on the floor on the left side of the left leg. Repeat each side and feel the low back loosen. Perform x10 each side.

Eagle face up – Lay face up on the floor with the arms outstretched at shoulder height. Keeping the right leg straight bring the right foot as high as possible on the left side of your body (aim for the left hand). Point your toes and touch them on the floor (not the heel). Take the leg back to the floor and repeat on the other side. Perform x10 each side.

Superman – This exercise will test your mobility but also is an excellent exercise to strengthen the muscles at the back of the body. Lay face down with the arms above your head, thumbs pointing to the sky lifting the hands as high up as possible off the floor, followed by the shoulders, chest and upper body. Simultaneously lift the feet off the floor (keep them pointed down, away from the body) followed by the knees, squeeze the butt muscle to initiate the leg lift. As shown in the picture lift the arms and legs off the floor keeping the elbows and knees straight. Perform x10 times and hold for 5-15 seconds.Superman

Lythe, J., and Kilding, A. E. (2011). Physical demands and physiological responses during elite field hockey. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(7),523-528.

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