Taking (Better) Care of Yourself

Alright ladies and gentlemen, this post is a little different than the previous ones.  In this one we’ll be talking about some tips and things you can do to take care of yourself before and after games.

As we all know playing in net causes quite a bit of wear and tear on the body, and as beer leaguers the vast majority of us don’t do a great job at taking care of ourselves. Typically our pre-game rituals involve some sort of light stretching and other personal habits to help us focus. After the game most of us take off the gear, and head home,  in some cases maybe crack a cold one (or more). As I have gotten older I have started to realize that I need to take better care of myself.  Through both trial and error, and from my education as an athletic trainer, mostly the former & less so the latter, I’ve found few things that have helped keep me as injury free as I can be.

#1 Stretching:  It seems simple but damn does this go a long way to preventing injuries especially as we get older.  You see these days we spend a lot time sitting; at work, on the couch, and driving.  While this may be the most comfortable position to be in, the problem stems from our muscles being in a shortened position for a long period.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 6 - Slovakia v United States
Stretching can help make moving like this possible for those of us not named J. Quick.  Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

Stretching helps to reverse the effects of sitting in this shortened state.  It can also help relieve back pain and other issues. Now the key to it is to hold a sustained stretch for about 30 seconds to a minute.  This is substantially longer than the 10-15sec holds you see people do in the gym, but in order to affect changes in the muscles and other tissues you need a sustained stretch.  I’ve inserted a picture of the stretching guide we have in the sports medicine clinic at the high school I work for as guide.  Lastly there are a lot of good resources out there for stretching routines and otherwise, I’ll make another post with my stretching routine in it, but for now I would recommend looking at Maria Mountain at http://www.goalietrainingpro.com, she has a lot of good info there.

General stretching rules from the clinic I work in


#2 Investing in & using a Foam Roller: This goes hand in hand with the stretching.  Foam rolling is a compliment to stretching but not a substitute. So while initially it is painful the pain lessens over time the more regularly you use the foam rollers.

Foam Roller and stick roller, both equally as effective.

The purpose of this is to help break up adhesions in the muscle fascia.  Think of it this way you know the think film you find on chicken breasts when you cook them, thats similar to fascia and it coats all of your muscle, however it can become stuck together causing adhesions or in layman’s terms “knots”  Foam rolling acts like a meat tenderizer helping to reduce adhesions and also act as form of massage. The fancy term for this stuff is Self-Myofascial  Release but foam rolling works just as well.  Perhaps in a future post I will go through my foam rolling routine.  Also pro-tip invest in either a lacrosse ball or soft ball (personally I like the lacrosse ball) and use it to roll out the bottom of your feet. Simply place the ball under your foot while standing and roll the ball around applying moderate pressure.  This does wonders for any foot pain and some even say it helps with back pain. For those who have plantar fasciitis this will definitely help you.


#3 Hydration: Let’s face it most of us indulge in coffee, energy drinks, soda, beer, or stronger.  When it comes to playing goalie the best option is water. Usually Liz and I will start hydrating the day before a game or practice. While some like pre-workouts, gatorade and other “sports drinks” I have found that they either have too much sugar or too much caffeine, and in some cases both and either will actually make me more thirsty during a game.  Also I figure my heart rate is going to be jacked up enough while playing so why add to it. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone else either, purely due to the potential for adverse health effects. I do recommend a mini bottle of gatorade or a protein shake for after a game to help reduce the feelings of hunger after a game but that’s all personal preference. Main point is drink water.

#4 Practicing:  This is last because I know most of us have trouble finding ice time, but if you can, practice.  I don’t mean just facing shots in practice, and of course the endless stream of the best beer league shootout moves open stick time has to offer. What I mean is that in addition to facing shots get out there and practice skating.  Our goalie coach likes to remind us frequently, that skating skills are just as important for the goalie as they are the other hockey players. So find some time to practice butterfly slides, power pushes, T-pushes, shuffles, VH and RVH positions.  There are a number of good sources out there but two of the best in my opinion are Goalies Coaches youtube page, and Ingoal magazine. They both have awesome content and drill recommendations. Practicing not only serves as conditioning but also helps to grease the neural groove to make certain motions that were once difficult now easier. In layman terms muscle memory.

Alright goalies these were just a few suggestions out there for taking care of yourself, that I have found really helpful. Until next time.


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