Here at the studio, we love working with all types of athletes. With our Canadian hockey team in the Olympic finals, it’s a great moment to highlight the benefits of Pilates for hockey players, and why so many NHL teams are incorporating Pilates into their team training schedules — the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils to name a few. Here are just a few reasons why.
1 – Balancing Anterior and Posterior Muscles
Hockey players have stellar quad strength but tend to lack in glute and hamstring connection. This imbalance between anterior and posterior leg muscles makes players more susceptible to injury, especially to the groin – ouch. Pilates is an excellent way to train the glutes and hamstrings to engage and assist for efficient and safe exertion.
2 – Hockey Players Have Weak Feet
Surprisingly, because of the fantastic support provided by hockey skates, hockey players tend to have weak feet. This affects the balance point and causes imbalances all the way up the body. Pilates exercises can effectively isolate and strengthen the feet.
3 – Flexibility is Power
Hockey players need flexibility just as much as dancers. Goalies perhaps need this most of all, but all players can benefit from increased flexibility. Stretching the muscles protects against pulled muscles, and frees up joints for increased range of motion. Think about the work the hip flexors have to do to achieve that powerful hockey stride!
4 – Increased Rotation
Just watch a hockey player for thirty seconds on the ice. They are constantly rotating their heads, trunks and hips in order to survey the action, and quickly change direction. To improve rotation, Pilates works to connect with the core muscles that support the movement, and gradually increase a safe and strong rotation.
5 – Straighten Out that Hockey Stance
Hockey players spend an incredible amount of time bending forward chasing the puck. In order to manage this imbalance, a seasoned player needs to ensure that the entire spine is supported, from the low lumbar all the way up to the neck. By activating and connecting deep supporting muscles, Pilates effectively encourages the core strength needed to protect the body from repetitive strain injuries.