The latest hockey trend since the “flow” is rolling. Rolling is normally done with foam rollers, but also with balls of different size and hardness.
Rolling has its origins in physio and massage therapy and is a self-myofascial release (MSR) technique, meaning you are giving yourself a massage. Because it’s so easy to do, it has made its way to our gyms, our homes and now our rinks.
Rolling is a simple activity that massages the muscles to increase circulation and “melt” fascia, a sticky fibrous web that wraps all of your muscles, connective tissues, bones and vital organs. When you wake up in the morning, you feel stiff and tight because your fascia is dense, sticky and dehydrated. As you move and bring circulation to your muscles, the heat of the blood flow and movement softens and hydrates your fascia, thus making it more elastic and promoting better movement.
Types of rolling
Rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which is a therapy. Depending on how it is done, it can be used to correct muscular imbalances or flexibility issues and can be very deep—and painful. Professional bodyworkers will use small hard balls or stiff rollers for rolling. This technique is corrective and deliberately causes micro bruising (hematoma) to help promote circulation and “strip out” scar tissue. This can be painful and great, but is not what you want for a hockey warm-up or recovery session.
What to use
Because you don’t want a deep-tissue massage that could cause the muscles to contract, you want to use a soft roller or ball. I recommend a roller just slightly stiffer than a pool noodle.
When to roll
You roll before a warm-up and after a game. Rolling before you warm up helps soften the muscles and prepare them for more intense activity. It also lets you know if you have any problem areas that need more attention during your warm-up. Rolling is also very beneficial after a hard workout, practice or game as it promotes recovery. This takes discipline as you just want to chill or go home, but it will help avoid muscle stiffness and soreness. At tournaments, be sure to roll before and after every game.
How to roll
Rolling is another way to increase range of motion and is not the same as stretching. When you roll, be sure to follow the direction of the muscle fibres. Start at the top and roll with even pressure and movement the full length of the muscle. Don’t do reps, roll for a period of time. The big hockey muscles like the quads, glutes (butt) and hamstrings will require several minutes of rolling per side. A good rolling session should take about 10 minutes.
What to roll
Every sport or condition will have a preferred rolling routine and sequence. For hockey players, I suggest starting with the feet to soften up the plantar region of the foot and work up from there. Foot work is best done with a ball. Then roll the quads, together first, with your forearms on the ground for support. Turn your body sideways to roll the side of the quads and the IT-Band (Iliotibial band)—you will feel that one. Then move to the backside—the glutes, the hamstrings and calves. (Goalies, be sure to roll the inner legs as well.) That’s 10 minutes right there! Add ribs, back and neck after a tough checking game and you can double that.
Rolling is great low-risk activity. Even a short session will deliver benefits. Remember that it should always feel more like “Oooooooo” than “Ahhhhhhhh” or “Ouch.”
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