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Hockey warm ups in the time of COVID-19

Meg Smith

MSc, FCAMPT, CSCS, CAFCI

Physiotherapist

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021
 
a child playing hockey outdoors alone

For many Canadian families, the winter months can involve many trips to the arena for hockey – for both games and practices. Although minor hockey has continued to take place in many locations, the routine is very different with COVID-19 precautions in place. 

A minor hockey game last year might last only 60 minutes. Typically, players arrive an hour early at the rink, gather as a group and participate in a dry land warm up before getting on the ice. 

Due to the pandemic - athletes are only able to access the facility until only minutes before their ice time, and need to arrive already dressed in their hockey gear.

What do we miss out on if we don’t have time to warm up before physical activity?  Many think of a warm up as a way of preventing injuries from occurring. Older individuals may need to perform light aerobic activity as a warm up to bring blood flow to their tight muscle and joints – allowing them better mobility before participating in a sport. 

For our young athletes, mobility is less likely to be an issue. The pre-game warm up serves as a chance to socialize with friends, listen to music, get into a pre-game mind set and practice coordinated movements that prepare muscles, joints and the nervous system for the demands of their sport. 

This year, consider the following tips for our rink bound youngsters before they jump into the car wearing their hockey gear:

- Don’t eat a big meal right before practice. Have smaller snacks that are easy to digest and bring water to the rink.

- Before putting on hockey equipment, do some dynamic movements that involve the large muscle groups used in skating and hockey.

Some examples are : 

a graphic displaying different types of lunges

- Get into a pre-game/pre-practice mindset by listening to a “dressing room” playlist of music while assembling and putting on hockey equipment.

This is a winter sports season like no other. Following these tips will help your hockey player make the most of their trips to the rink.

At the end of the day, any opportunity to get out on the ice and be physically active and socially distant with friends, should the restrictions in your area allow it, is something to be enjoyed by all who are involved in the game of hockey.   

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