A proper warm-up is very important for ice hockey players of all ages. Warm-up exercises should combine skating and stretching before every practice or game.
A good warm-up:
* Reduces the risk of injury.
* Prepares the body for performing in practice or games.
* Takes at least 10 to 15 minutes.
* Proceeds gradually and with purpose.
* Increases the heart rate.
The athlete should warm-up before performing stretching exercises.
* Begin with a casual skate around the rink.
* Skate in both directions (clockwise and counterclockwise) to ensure use of the appropriate muscles, as well as the inside and outside edges of the skates.
* Skating backward and pivoting from side to side should also be included in the warm-up.
When the price of time on the ice is a factor or limited ice time is available, jumping rope or jogging in place is a warm-up alternative.
* Begin stretching after the warm-up. These stretching exercises can also be performed in the locker room prior to skating.
* Each stretching exercise should be done slowly.
* Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
* Concentrate on the muscle being stretched.
* Begin with a slight stretch and hold it for the recommended time.
* Increase the stretch until you "feel" the stretch again and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.
* Stretch slowly, relaxing and exhaling going into the stretch.
* Learn how to hold a position in a relaxed state.
* Ease up if you are unable to hold a position because the stretch is too great.
* Do not bounce when you stretch and don't stretch so far that you experience joint pain.
Hip flexor stretch:
Put one leg forward with the knee bent.
* Extend the other leg backward, putting the knee on the ice.
* Lean slightly forward in an effort to feel the stretch in the hip area.
* Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
* Sit upright on the ice.
* Bend the knees and bring the heels and soles of the feet together. Pull them toward the buttocks.
* Place elbows on the inside of both upper legs.
* Exhale and slowly push the legs to the floor.
* Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, relax and repeat.
Spinal twist stretch:
* Sit upright on the ice with hands behind extended hips and legs.
* Bend the left leg, cross the left foot over the right leg and slide the heel toward the buttocks.
* Reach over and place the right elbow on the outside of the left knee.
* Exhale. Look over the left shoulder while turning the trunk and pushing the knee back with the right elbow.
* Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Modified hurdler stretch:
* Sit upright on the ice with both legs straight.
* Bend the right knee and slide the heel toward your buttocks.
* Lower the outside of the thigh and calf onto the floor.
* Place the right heel against the inside of the left thigh to form a 90-degree angle between the extended left leg and bent right leg.
* Exhale, bend at the waist, keeping the left leg straight, and lower your hands and torso onto the left leg.
* Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side
Lateral trunk stretch:
* While skating, with your feet shoulder width apart, hold the stick with both hands and put it above your head.
* Slowly, tilt the trunk to the right, hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
* Repeat the stretch for the opposite side.
Rotational trunk stretch:
* While skating, with feet shoulder width apart put the stick behind your back, holding it with both elbows in the bent position.
* Rotate the trunk to the right for 15 to 30 seconds.
* Repeat on the opposite side.
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