The best dynamic warm-ups for hockey players?

In my previous blog post, I talked about how athletes should be doing dynamic stretches instead of static stretches for the majority of their pregame/pre-workout routine. Dynamic stretches are great for getting your blood flowing and your muscles activated. Frankly, your warm-up doesn’t have to have all that much structure to it. If you’re someone who just doesn’t have the time or the want to set up a routine that’s perfectly fine depending on the level you are playing at. Getting your juices pumping by skating and stick handling can be more than enough if you’re just going out there to have fun, but with that said, there is always an optimal level that you could strive towards. If you truly want to perform at your highest potential then designing your own pre-game warm-up and sticking to it is vital.

There is value in having a designed set of warm-ups to target specific areas that you either know you need to work on or you want to be performing at a high level.  That’s why designing your own individual warm-up is going to give you the best results. You want to pick and choose the warm-ups that are going to be best for your game. Furthermore by performing the same routine every time you go to play or workout you are getting yourself into the right mindset.

This week I want to go over my 5 favorite dynamic stretches that can get you a full-body warm-up and what I recommend for the hockey players I work with who are looking to optimize their game and don’t know where to start with their regimen. While this list is specifically for the sport of hockey it can be used for a wide variety of activities.

1.)   Lunge & Twist ( 1-4 minutes is a good starting place)

To perform a lunge and twist you start with a basic lunge forward from the standing position. Once in the lunged position rotate your upper body to the same side as the forward leg. Try to maintain as upright a position as possible. Then return from the rotation backed to a lunged position. Then return to the standing position. Throughout the motion try to keep the core engaged.

These are great for getting the core working together with both the upper and lower extremities.  This is great for working on the core biomechanics of a player’s shot. The lunge aspect also warms up the lower body very nicely.

lunge and twist demonstration

2.)   Arm Swings (1 min)

Start with your arms straight out from your body so that you are standing and making a T shape. Keep your arms in the same horizontal plane throughout the motion. Swing both arms at the same time across the front of your body. Alternate which arm goes on top of each swing.

This gets your pecs, traps, rhomboids, scapular stabilizers, and deltoids warmed up.  This gets the whole shoulder complex involved. I highly recommend focusing on activating the scapular retractors throughout this warm-up. Scapular retraction is key when transferring energy away from the core of the body.

Arms Swings Demonstration

3.)   Frog Walk-in & Twist (1 – 4 minutes is a good starting place)

Frog walks with a twist are similar to lunge with a twist. Start in a fully extended push up position. Move one foot forward so that it is on the outside of the same sided hand. Left that hand off the floor extending and twisting up to open your upper body. Return your hand to the floor return your forward leg so you re-enter the push-up position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Another great core and lower extremity activator. This time you are twisting away from your forward lower extremity. In hockey, this movement isn’t as common as twisting towards the forward lower extremity but it’s still a part of the game. (i.e . windup for slapshot/snapshot, reaching back for a puck, stick handling)

Frog Walk-in & Twist

4.)   Arm Circles (30 seconds clockwise, 30 seconds counter-clockwise)

Easy to perform and you’ve probably done them before. Just rotate your arms throughout their range of motion in a clockwise and then counter-clockwise direction.

While overhead motions aren’t common during hockey I still believe it’s important to warm the shoulder up through its complete range of motion. Arm swings are great but they don’t work your rotator cuff musculature as much as arm circles.

Arm Circles Demonstrated

5.)   Skaters (1-4 minutes is a good starting place)

You are probably familiar with skaters as well. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder length apart pick a side and hop laterally towards that side landing on the same side foot with the other foot and leg crossing behind. Then hop laterally to the other side and land on that foot.

I think this one is self-explanatory. If you aren’t skating during a hockey game your teammates are probably going to be unhappy.

Skaters Demonstrated

My bio:  I help get athletes out of pain and back to enjoying their active lifestyles. I’m a certified chiropractic sports practitioner, certified strength and conditioning specialist, an emergency medical responder and the team chiropractor for The Pittsburgh Vengeance. I also play hockey in my free time at a very mediocre level.