Ice hockey has often been described as ballet on blades, and few positions are as physically demanding as that of the goaltender. If you are just getting started as an ice hockey goalie, it is important that you take the time to learn how to prevent injury.
Here are three things you can do to ensure that your body is prepared to meet the rigorous demands associated with the position of goaltender in the future.
1. Take care of the tendons in your knees.
Ice hockey goalies spend a significant amount of time dropping to their knees in the butterfly position, so your knees might take a beating while you are learning to execute this move properly. Pain in your knee after a skate could be caused by patellar tendonitis, which is characterized by swelling of the knee joint.
Working with a physical therapist is a good way to treat patellar tendonitis before it becomes too severe. Your physical therapist can give you an ice massage to reduce inflammation, and electrical stimulation can be used to help control pain. At the first sign of knee pain, make an appointment with your physical therapist to treat patellar tendonitis.
2. Stretch before and after every game.
While it might not seem like stretching can be effective in preventing injury, ice hockey goalies need to be extremely flexible in order to make saves. A physical therapist can be a valuable ally when it comes to developing a stretching program that will help you prevent injury.
Be sure that you ask your physical therapist for short-term stretches, which should be completed as a warm up and cool down before and after every skate; and long-term stretches, which should be completed as a separate stretching session about 2–4 hours after you skate.
3. Maintain proper positioning while on the ice.
A goaltender's stance plays an important role in determining how effective he or she will be at stopping pucks. Unfortunately, an improper stance can also make your body prone to injury. If you are just learning how to play the goalie position, it can be beneficial to have a physical therapist evaluate your stance.
The physical therapist will be able to determine if you are at risk of abdominal wall shortening on your stick side, or if your forward head positioning will cause strain on your neck and shoulders over time.
Ice hockey goalies put a lot of strain on their bodies each time they hit the ice. If you are learning the position, it can be beneficial to work with a physical therapist to alleviate minor knee inflammation, learn proper stretching, and develop a safe stance. Contact an establishment like Synergy Health today to get started.