11 Ways For Hockey Goalies To Unlock & Protect Their Hips

You know when your email just seems to explode for days on end.  You clear it out and then the next time you look at it – BOOM it is full again!  Been having one of those months, but I am not complaining.  In fact, it is cool because a lot of the emails are from you guys.  You are asking questions (really good questions), looking for that slight edge that will help you make it to the next level, banish injuries or stay at the top of your game.

I love it because it tells me what you need to know, so in between answering your emails, I am putting together a little series of articles to answer the most popular question types.  The most common questions I get from you are:

  •  looking for ways to either improve the mobility of your hips, which is the functional ability of your hips when you are on the ice, not how far you can stretch when you are sitting on the floor watching TV
  • looking for techniques to overcome injury or reduce the risk of injury or recurrence.

Here is what I have come up with, it is a lot of information, so sorry if you find that overwhelming, but I wanted to make a really good resource page for you, I wanted to give you all the answers up front without having to hunt around for them …

11 Ways For Hockey Goalies To Unlock And Protect Their Hips

  1. Lacrosse ball on hip flexors – the LAX ball is a great tool for self myofascial release, it lets you get into the front of your hip and work on the tissue quality, get some of those knots out.
  2. Lacrosse ball on glutes – our glutes take a lot of abuse, for starters we sit on them and squish them much of the day, so let’s give them some love (painful, but love nonetheless) and work on the tissue quality.  They work as a functional unit with the hip flexors, so keeping both the front and the back of the hip joint in good shape is a great place to start.  Goalie Butterfly Flare video tune in around the 2:40 mark
  3. 90/90 capsule stretch – I used to think you could not really work on your own capsule, but Dr. Andreo Spina told me different and he is WAY smarter than I am, so I believed him.  Then I started using this mobility exercise with my athletes and saw athletes who have had trouble squatting for years, move with beautiful squat patterns.  I had athletes telling me how loose their hips feel.  So call it whatever you wish, this is something special for your hips that traditional ‘stretching’ does not touch.  Here’s what I mean – See the Functional Range Video
  4. 1/2 Kneeling Groin + Rotation – did you know your abdominals can contribute to your groin strain and that your adductors can contribute to sports hernia?  Here is one way to get the adductors and the abdominals working together a little better. Here’s a video with showing you how to add rotation to your groin stretches.
  5. Hip Internal Rotation – this is the secret sauce for your butterfly flare.  If you cannot name at least one stretch you are doing for hip internal rotation, then you are missing a big piece of the puzzle.  See the Goalie Butterfly Flare video
  6. Do not force it – get it checked out – if you feel a ‘block’ or a ‘pinch’ in the front of your hip when you are trying to stretch or squat, then something is restricting that range of motion.  I am not talking about a stretching feeling in the muscle, but just the feeling that it ‘won’t go’.  There are various reasons you may feel this – could be capsular tightness, could be bony impingement like Femoral Acetabular Impingement Syndrome (FAIS) are any number of other issues.  Do not self-diagnose this one – go see a good sport physiotherapist, preferably one who has experience working with hockey players (does not have to be goalies, just hockey players will do).  They will be able to use their manual skills to help figure out the cause of the block and refer you on to a doctor for an x-ray if necessary.  This video will help you learn more
  7. Single leg training – your legs need to be strong to be fast, powerful and durable, but more importantly, your hip, knee and ankle need to be stable.  In my opinion you should all be working toward some form of single leg resistance training.  Wanna see if you lack stability somewhere in the muscles that control your leg, just do this quick self-assessment.  Can you squat to lightly tap your butt to a bench the height of a weight training bench (a little lower than a standard chair)? Can you do 5 of them without losing your balance?  Can you keep your heel on the ground?  Can you keep perfect alignment with your knee?  Can you maintain a neutral spine (i.e. do not round your lower back as you squat down, keep your chest up and hinge at your hip).  If you answer ‘No’ to any one of these questions, then you are putting yourself at risk.  Here’s a single leg strength exercise for hockey that you should easily be able to do with your body weight.
  8. Lengthen under tension – when you see a goalie strain an adductor (groin) they are typically doing one of two things – getting fallen on OR rapidly decelerating the leg with the muscle in a lengthened postion – this is what is called an eccentric muscle action (lengthening the muscle under contraction).  You need to progressively teach your body to contol these ranges of movement by including different movement patterns. This video shows how goalies can lengthen the adductors under tension.– check out the 2:47 mark
  9. Generate tension at ends of range – this might sound the same as the point above, but it is quite different and once you check it out, you will see what I mean.  This might just be the toughest easy-looking exercise I have ever given you.  Check out this video to see what I mean.
  10. Have a system – even if it is just three things that you do every other day to help maintain your hip health, be systematic.  Do one myofascial release, one stretch and one mobilization or stabilization exercise.  It certainly can be more elaborate than that, but know what you are doing and why.
  11. Tweaks are warning signs – tweaks are dangerous, they don’t lay you out flat, you can still keep going, but they are warning signs that you should listen to if you want to stay out of the physio clinic and on the ice. If you heard creaks and pops coming from your basement with the occassional crack in the foundation appearing, would you just dismiss it?  The scary thing about tweaks is that a tweak in your hip may have nothing at all to do with your hip, it may be from something that is brewing in your back.  You rest, the pain goes away and back you go to the ice, then another tweak somewhere else, followed by another, until finally one day the whole thing crumbles and you are literally laid out flat.  Get your tweaks checked, especially if they came from out of the blue with nothing really in the way of a mechanism for injury.
  12. BONUS! Off-Ice dynamic warm up – you tell me all the time that you have very little time to really warm up on the ice, your teammates a busy firing slappers at your head and that is pretty much it. So it is up to you to prepare yourself off the ice.  Get your hips moving so you can take a torque off your knees, your thoracic spine moving to take torque off your hips, your balance primed so you can move more efficiently. BONUS – here is a sample dynamic warm-up for goalies you can use


PS – I am closing enrollment in the UGT VIP program on Sunday, so if you want to get access to the newest version of Ultimate Goalie Training – UGT 3.0 PLUS the free bonuses, PLUS access to a private member’s only Forum where you can interact with other goalies from around the world and directly with me AND monthly webinars on the topic of your choice, then you should visit – www.UltimateGoalieTrainingVIP.com before Sunday at midnight.  You can get started today for only $49. I will make just the program available again soon, but you will not be able to get all the extras.

pro-style off-ice goalie training program