Why goalies do not need flexibility

IMG_1609I’ll tell you why goalies do not need flexibility…

But first, this post is a little out of order – it is the ‘post that wouldn’t’ I referred to the other day – here’s the post if you missed it.

So I am no longer in North Van – I am actually at the Vancouver Airport waiting for my 11:30PM – nope, that is not a typo – my flight leaves at 11:30pm and I arrive back in London at 8:30am.  Now I want you to do me a favour – picture a kid (maybe your own) having a complete meltdown in the cereal aisle of the grocery store – – pretty much what I am going to look like in about 6-hours 🙂

I was out to Vancouver Island to visit my Uncle Tom and Aunt Diane, but I also got to meet up with Dave Hutchison of www.InGoalMag.com (you all follow that site already right – you should).  He took me on a tour of the school where he teaches, the beautiful Shawnigan Lake School – it was breathtaking.  I told Dave that I would have started right back at Grade 9 if I could go there.

But the phrase above this gateway stopped me in my tracks.  I love it.  I might get it tattooed on my butt 🙂

I have a story to tell you about a cool thing that happened to me in a Costco – I know it sounds weird, but it was cool – but I will tell you about that later in the week as this post is already pretty long…

Flashback to Friday morning…

vancouver canucks hockey over thereGreetings from North Vancouver, BC! Looks like I picked the right day to be here because the weather is beautiful.  You might remember that I am here to see my friend Rick Kaselj and attend the Dan John seminar he is hosting.  Hoping maybe the seminar is conducted outdoors 🙂

So it has/will be two weekends of learning for me  – last weekend at the Functional Range Conditioning course near Toronto and this weekend a plane ride across the country to hear legendary strength and conditioning coach Dan John.

I think being a strength and conditioning coach is much like being a hockey player – if you want to move up a level you have to get out there and learn from those who are better than you, even if you have to overcome some obstacles to get there.

Today I want to tell you about the 16-hour course I attended last week – it will be a little geeky, but some of you will appreciate it.

 Functional Range Conditioning

Okay, let’s start with a little experiment – you know how I love experiments!  STAND UP!  Yes, like with your bum out of your chair.  Stand up and put your foot on a chair or table beside you – like a side kick position.

Can you get a 90 degree angle at your hip – I am guessing most of you can.  Now do the same thing on the other side – 90 degrees again?  Thought so.

Now we need to do some math – what is 90+90?  I will wait while you go fetch your calculator… okay so that is 180 degrees.  And what does 180 degrees mean to any hockey goalie worth their salt – it means the SPLITS right?

So ‘poof’ now 90% of you can do the splits.

What?  YOU can’t do the splits?  But you’ve got 90+90 = 180 (math doesn’t lie).  So what is limiting you.

Now, I do think this experimental design is a little flawed because I think you can tilt your pelvis a little as you put your foot up and give the appearance of 90 degrees.  But a lot of you will do it without this cheat move, yet you still cannot do the splits.

So what is the limiting factor.  The premise of Dr. Andreo Spina’s Functional Range Conditioning is that the nervous system puts a govenor on your mobility.

Do you think you could get more range if I lifted your leg over your head as you lay on the floor or if you just used your muscles to lift your leg over your head? Probably the situation where I am assisting would give more range of motion.

Why?  Afterall, you are strong enough to lift your own leg right?  So it is not a strength issue, it is not a range of motion issue, it is an apprehension in the nervous system, a govenor if you will.

Ever seen a little kid being coaxed by their Mom or Dad to jump off the ledge into the pool for the first time – ‘don’t worry, I’ll catch you’ and all that?

It can take a lot of coaxing can’t it.  Until they do it once and then it seems like the kid cannot stop jump in the pool, swim to the ladder, jump in the pool and on it goes.

Your muscles are the same.  Even if you stretch a lot and you have that flexibility, you may find yourself frustrated that the mobility is not there once you get onto the ice.  Notice I said flexibility in the first part and mobility in the second.  There is a distinction.

Flexibility is the range of motion you have about the joint.  So in the scenario where I grab your leg and pull it up over your head – that is flexibility.  Mobility on the other hand is the range of motion where you can generate force – your useable range of motion.

So how do we improve mobility – which is what you need on the ice, without it all your stretching is futile?  Same as the kid standing on the ledge of the pool – we coax it.  We coax it by generating force at the extreme end ranges of motion (and there is a technique for doing that so wait ’til I explain it).  When you have generated force at the end of the range of motion (at the limit of the govenor), the body gets the message that ‘hey, that wasn’t so bad, nothing bad happened, we can go to that range over and over again’.

It is a little (a lot) more complicated than that as it also affects tissue remodeling, etc. but that is it in a nutshell.

I will post a video later this week showing you exactly how to do it, I promise (I will tell you my Costco story too)…

Move into your stretch (the video will show a hip series that every goalie should do twice daily) and hold that strong stretch for approximately 2-minutes.  As I have mentioned before, if you are feeling a pinch in the front of your hip, then do not do this one – at all!   You are not going to stretch away that pinch and you could be harming your tissue.

Then push your limb away from the stretch (it won’t go anywhere) – slowly build tension.  This is important, if you try to quickly generate tension you could hurt yourself.  Remember, your body is not accustomed to managing forces in this range.  Slowly build up to a maximum or near maximum contraction and hold it for up to 20 seconds. This should be quite tough – really tough actually.

Then use your other muscles to try and ‘pull’ yourself deeper into the stretch.  Again, build the tension gradually and try to hold it for 20 seconds.  Then hold for another 1-2 minutes and then repeat the contract and relax sequence followed by one more static hold for 1-2 minutes.

You will not do this type of stretching before a game, this is strictly done away from the ice.

Catch you later in the week.

PS – for those of you in the UGT VIP – the info for the member’s only live webinar is posted in the forum for you.