December 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Stretching is often secondary to everyone’s workouts (do you lift, bro? do you skate, bro?). Stretching takes a back seat when you try to imitate Brian Boitano, landing three salchows and a triple lutz while blindfolded.
But before you make the gender mistake and say that stretching is a girl thing to do, realize ligament/muscle tears and other possible serious injuries are equal opportunity. They do not discriminate amongst genders or body type. If you do not stretch before or after your workout or stretch improperly, you run the chance of getting injured.
Why Is Stretching Important?
Working out hurts so good unless you tear something. Stretching helps alleviate some of that pain. Holding each stretch for at least 15-30 seconds will help increase range of motion and flexibility, important in a sport that requires a demanding amount of flexibility. Stretches help improve circulation, decrease muscle tension and muscle soreness and increase the amount of time spent relaxing and visualizing what just happened during practice.
Let’s see what you did during practice:
- Off-ice to get the cardio going, running around the rink.
- Plyometric drills (double-leg bounding, alternating steps) to work on jumping power
- Jump rope to end off-ice to work on coordination, agility and mental fortitude while fatigued.
By the time you got on the ice, you worked on things like:
- Stroking patterns/skating around the ice.
- Jumps, getting full extension in the air, doing proper take-offs, getting max air, max extension on toe taps for flips and toe loops and finishing with proper checkouts.
- Proper arm coordination during those jumps.
- Spins. F**k spins so much.
The all-around explosive movements during practice required being on the balls of your feet, placing a lot of stress on your calves. Stroking around the ice, getting around the ice happens only when you generate the power from the glutes, adductors, quadriceps, iliotibial band and calves work in conjunction. Those jumps, from entrance to take-off and checkout, require all the already mentioned muscle groups before, but also your abs and lower back to keep the jumps compact. Spins? Abs, calves to keep the spin tight and centered.
Whether you stretch up standing, on the ground, against the wall or the boards surrounding the ice, try to get in the stretching while your muscles are still warm from the earlier workout. If you can’t afford a massage therapist, foam roller and the use of your body weight are pretty good for massaging sore muscles like calves and IT bands. Flexibility stretches can help stretch out the quads, adductors, glutes and hamstrings, which will also help reduce muscle tension that often aggravates the lower back. Don’t simply stretch one side and not the other just because one side is easier. Stretch both sides out. Here are some yoga positions to stretch out tight hips or lower back. You will thank yourself later.