From the Trainer’s Room: Two simple exercises to skate faster
Improving strength and power in the lower body will aid in the improvement of frequency and is a particularly important aspect of off-ice training. This improvement, however, may take some time.
One simple and quicker way is to improve your stride length by increasing your flexibility. As a player finishes his or her stride, their leg must fully extend, abduct and externally rotate. These muscles are typically tight in skaters, limiting a full, efficient stride length and slowing your speed on the ice.
Two main muscle groups, the hip flexors (rectus femoris and psoas) and the groin (adductor brevis, longus and magnus) are not only tight in most skaters but are also the most commonly injured muscles in hockey. Spending a few minutes a day, especially before and after skating, can help improve the flexibility of these two muscle groups and improve your skating while helping prevent injuries.
Use this kneeling hip flexor and groin stretch to elongate your stride.
Begin kneeling on one knee with your chest tall and upright. Slowly rock forward, extending the kneeling leg until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip, pause and rock back to the starting position. Repeat the stretch 5-10 times.
When finished, rotate your front leg 90 degrees so your foot is pointing out to your side. Now start to rock sideways, stretching the groin muscles. Repeat the stretch 5-10 times and then repeat both stretches on the opposite leg. Perform 2-3 sets on each leg every day, and you’re on your way to getting faster on the ice.
Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 30 years’ experience in professional hockey with the Ducks and Capitals, football and soccer and is a preferred provider for the U.S. Figure Skating Sports Medicine Network. He has worked with numerous hall of famers and Olympians. He is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab located in Orange County and can be reached through his website at www.competeperformance.com.
(May 7, 2021)