With the hockey season now getting into full swing the Vernon Vipers are continuing their in-season training with Catt Conditioning. 4 days per week you will find the team training in the facility. For the hockey athlete it’s important to maintain the strength they have gained in the off-season while continuing to improve tissue quality, mobility and stability and help reduce the aches and pains that come with such a high intensity sport. Shoulder injuries are one of the main injuries that arise. Some being contact injuries through hits in a game and others because of the high repetitive demands of the game and life.
Hockey is an amazing sport! Who can argue with the speed, intensity, power and even grace of being able to perform on skates and ice! How can you deny that it’s the best sport in the world! (at least in my books!) It’s important to keep the athlete healthy and injury free.
The shoulder is a very interesting topic. So much dysfunction from the shoulder can come from everywhere surrounding it. The guilty parties are busy creating havoc on the shoulder, never getting any attention while the shoulder gets all the blame. For everyone who suffers with some type of shoulder dysfunction but has never been involved in a contact injury, maybe it’s time to search elsewhere!
Yes, look AWAY from the shoulder!
Our first order of business is looking at the Thoracic Spine and the neck. If there is a Neurological problem in the neck this can refer to the shoulder. Improper breathing patterns can lead to shoulder weakness and dysfunction. Lack of Thoracic spine mobility can lead to shoulder dysfunction. Do you see how so many things play a role in the health of our shoulder!
With a restriction in your breathing pattern such as reduced diaphragm breathing and dominate shoulder/chest breathing the muscles that should help you move, lift and load during sport or exercise are fatigued. You tire quickly without achieving your goals in your fitness program such as pressing or pulling patterns. Another fact is with proper breathing this increases expansion/mobility through the Tspine. In order for our Thoracic spine to move freely it needs us to breath correctly or in the end we become restricted and shoulder range is lost.
Trigger points in the upper traps, lats and other areas continue this restriction and stretching may only increase this restriction because the muscle is trying to protect itself. Massage therapy and Self Myofascial release is the best way to reduce trigger points and increase range.
Once mobility is gained and thoracic stability is then included then we can move forward to more of a loading phase but if you skip any of the important steps above you will fight through the remainder of a conditioning program without making the gains you strive for!
What steps should you take first in achieving a healthy shoulder? Start with these 3 simple steps first.
1. Look for a qualified professional who can perform an FMS (Functional movement screen) and explain your results.
2. Reduce trigger points in the upper trap, lats, and additional areas in shoulder, upper back. Trigger point work with a tool you can tolerate such as a Trigger point ball, tennis ball or a partner can use a massage stick or dowel rod.
3. Perform mobility such as rib grab, push/pull rotation patterns.
There are several additional steps but getting going on the right path is never a bad thing.
Sidelying push/pull for Thoracic mobility
Lay on your Right side with your legs pulled up to hip height and stacked together. You can place a rolled up towel or Yoga block between your knees. Rotate away from your legs (to your left) and reach both arms up to the ceiling. Exhale your air out as you pull your left arm down and push your right arm up. Elbows should be straight. Squeeze the knees together to incorporate added stability. This will help improve the mobility needed at the Tspine (upper back). Maintain straight arms and have the movement come from the upper back only. Repeat 3 times then change to the opposite side. If one side is worse, spend quality time on the restricted side until you find a balance between both.