When you see NHL goalies and Olympic athletes interviewed on TV they talk about the amazing team supporting them behind the scenes.
For an elite goalie that team includes your goalie coach, your strength and conditioning coach, your sport psychologist and your sport physiotherapist.
I going to wager that some of you have none, some of you have one (probably a goalie coach), probably 44% of you have a goalie coach and a strength coach, but I bet less than 5% of you have a sport physio on your team – – and if you do, I bet you don’t use them the right way.
Here is the flaw in your thinking…
If you only go to the physiotherapist when you have an injury, you are using them all wrong.
Do you only go to the dentist when you have a toothache? Hopefully not.
You go to the dentist every 8-months or so to make sure there is nothing brewing under the surface that is going to come up and bite you in the ass down the road. Physio is the same.
Especially for a goalie. Let me say that again because it is THAT important – – ESPECIALLY FOR A GOALIE!
Almost all of your movements are asymmetrical and under force. Think of pushing across your crease from your right post to your left with your left pad flat and your right leg up and pushing?
Can you imagine the asymmetrical forces acting on your pelvis and your spine?
Maybe you can’t, but I sure can.
Not to get super geeky about it, but your pelvis (basically where your hip muscles all attach) is not one solid bone, it is several bones fused together and it can get TORQUED.
When your pelvis is torqued, it is the same as driving around with your wheels out of alignment. You can still push the gas and the car will still go faster, but you might notice the steering is a little off – like your steering wheel isn’t quite centred. That is the least of it, what you don’t see is how your tires, bearings and even brakes are quietly wearing out behind the scenes.
Had you spent the $50 to get your wheels aligned, you could have saves yourself the $473 repair bill on your car down the road.
A regular check up with the physio can help identify what is putting you at risk for a major blow out. Trust me, 4-6 visits to your physio every year for a check-up is going to be a LOT cheaper than tearing your groin and visiting them 7 times in four weeks as you sit on the bench watching your goalie partner light it up.
Could you visit your Chiropractor instead?
Yes, for sure you can visit your chiropractor, but make sure they are taking the time to assess you and if they need to do an adjustment, then ask them if there are any stretches or exercises you should do to help reduce your need for adjustments.
If you just go in and get a crack, crack and then sent on your way, I would just look for a different chiro.
Same goes for the physio – if you go in and they only look at your hip range of motion without looking at your pelvic positioning, your ankle mobility, your back movement and even shoulder mobility, it is time to find someone else.
You are a machine…
Think of yourself as a Formula One race car. You don’t need to get obsessive about it by going to the physio after every single game just to check that you are in alignment, but every 2-3 months for a check-up is a great idea.
I try to get the elite (professional and Olympic level) athletes I train to visit the physio at least every two weeks even when they are symptom free. It makes a huge difference because it isn’t just about reducing your risk of injury, it is about getting the most out of your training.
Let’s consider that your pelvis is anteriorly rotated on the right side, that will decrease your active hip flexion on that side, so every time you recover your right skate underneath you from a butterfly position you are fighting against your pelvis. You might not even notice it, but it is there.
So, you subconsciously compensate for that, you might lean to your left when you recover your right skate. You are strengthening a compensation pattern.
In the gym you might shift your hips toward your left as you do a front squat because you are jamming a little bit on the right. Again, you might not even notice it, but it is limiting your range of motion and strengthening a compensation pattern.
After the physio cleans up your asymmetries, you will feel it as soon as you leave your appointment. You will be amazed by how much better you move and you will be amazed by how you didn’t even notice how much compensation was going on.
Maybe the best reason…
Even if you do the right training. Even if you regularly see your physio. Even if you are a good person… injuries will happen.
When they do, you will be so happy to have a physio who knows you (you can typically get in a little quicker for treatment) and who knows your body, so they can zero in on what is ‘normal’ for you and what needs the most work.
You cannot speed healing, but by cutting out some of the trial and error of working with a new physio, you can make your recovery as efficient as possible.
So as you move your way up the rungs of your career, start assembling your team, set yourself up for success.