How many hockey players can pass this test?

Have you ever had a car that only you can drive?  You are accustomed to its idiosyncrasies and you don’t even realize it is THAT out of whack.  I remember a friend who had one of those old old Ford Broncos (it was white – kind of like the one OJ had – yikes!) that they could drive no problem.  I had to drive it once and I felt like I was having a full on wrestling match with the steering wheel the entire time – the steering wheel was actually fighting back!

Our bodies can be the same – you are out there playing hockey, making great saves and assuming that everything is great, until all of a sudden (or maybe slowly over time) it isn’t.

What I want to share with you today are a few tests you can do on yourself at home without any specialized equipment to see how your body is functioning.  Today we will start with 3 mobility tests:

1.       Hamstring Flexibility

a.       Put your foot up on the seat pan of a chair.  Keep the toes of your weight bearing foot pointing straight ahead and keep the toes of your ‘stretch’ leg pointing straight up to the ceiling – do not cheat by letting this foot roll outward.

b.      Stand up tall in your torso.  Do not round your back and reach for your toes, just stand up tall and maintain the slight arch in your lower back.  Can you do this without any discomfort?  If so – you pass go on to ‘c’.  If not – you flunk!  Find a step that is a little lower and use this ‘test’ position as your stretching position.  Holding for 30-60 seconds on each side doing 1-2 repetitions each day on each side.

c.       Now find a bench or table that is at roughly hip height and place your foot up on there.  Your thigh should be roughly parallel to the floor.  Can you maintain a slight arch in your lower back without feeling an uncomfortable stretch in the back of your thigh?  If so, you pass.  If not – you guessed it – you flunk.  See ‘b’ for what to do next.

2.       Hip Flexor Tightness

a.       Lie on your back on the floor.

b.      Bring one knee up toward your chest, but keep the other leg straight on the floor with the toes of that foot pointing straight up to the ceiling.

c.       Using your hands, hug that knee up toward your chest – did the knee of your straight leg lift off the floor?  If not, you passed.  If it did, you flunk.  You need to do  more hip flexor stretching – I would start with the one shown at 3:45 in the above video.

Hold it for 30-60 seconds on each side and do it 1-2 times per day.

3.       Shoulder mobility – I included this one because I think your lack of mobility will be shocking to you.  With so much work on keyboards these days or time spent sitting, I think we really under utilize our shoulder mobility and poor shoulder mobility can be a symptom of poor mid-back mobility as well which can create problems for not only your shoulders, but also your lower back.  This is a test that I got from Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen which is a great screening tool for any of you who work with athletes.

a.       Begin with a rough measure of the length of your hand from the crease of your wrist to the end of your middle finger.

b.      From here on, you will need someone to help you out.  You will make a fist with your thumb on the inside (yes, I know this is not the way to make a fist if you are in a bar fight, but it is the right way to make on for this movement screen).  Reach your right hand up over your right shoulder and behind your back – like you have an itch right between your shoulder blades that you are trying to reach.

c.       Now bring your left fist behind your back from the bottom up, like you are trying to touch your knuckles together.

d.      Are your fists within one ‘hand length’ apart?  If yes, you passed.  If no – you flunked.

e.      Now do it on the other side.  Not unusual to have one side tighter than the other, but we want a passing score on both.

f.        Unlike the other exercises, the test does not become the exercise to correct it – this stretch can be a little hard on the shoulder so instead we are going to do something a little different.  You will stand with your back to the wall, keeping your butt, shoulder blades and head in contact with the wall.  Then you will bring your upper arm up to the wall so your upper arm is parallel to the floor and your elbows are bend to 90 degrees.  Keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together slightly, without shrugging your shoulders or arching your back, you will rotate your upper arm to bring your hands up toward the wall and back down to just below parallel to the floor.  Check out the video (5:45) above to see what I mean.  Do 10-15 with a 2 second pause at each end.

How did you do?  You should be passing all of these tests – these are really basic.  If you are flunking these, then you are hurtling down the hockey highway in my friend’s old OJ Bronco – look out!