Hockey is becoming an increasingly popular sport in the Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, and Raleigh area for high school-aged kids. I’ll cover the common issues I’m finding so you know how to spot them and identify when to see a chiropractor for treatment.

1) Tight hips and limited hip mobility

Hockey places very intense demands on the lower functional motor unit which includes the foot, ankle, knee, and hip. Players have to be able to accelerate very quickly, which is especially demanding to the hip area. It first requires flexing the hip (moving it up and forward as if to take a step) and then using this leg position to push off and extend (moving the leg down and back) to accelerate forward. Many times this repetitive movement can cause the athletes to have tight muscles around the hip itself which limits the mobility of the joint. The end result is a shorter and less efficient stride and many times hip pain.

At AccessHealth Chiropractic Center I typically use hip mobilizations and chiropractic adjustments to increase the range of motion of the hip area. Next, I’ll use myofascial release and tissue release techniques to allow the muscles surrounding the hip to lengthen and relax. The third step is usually active rehab that requires the patient to do stretches and exercises at home so the tissues can lengthen and begin functioning normally again.

2) Low back pain and stiffness

In reality, this complaint usually involves not only the low back but also the pelvic area as well. Hockey requires athletes to change directions quickly and often. Many times the players are leaning forward with their torso and reaching out with their stick. Changing directions quickly causes the low back and pelvic muscles to contract and stabilize quickly. When you combine this with the sudden change of direction you’re placing an intense biomechanical demand on the low back. This often leads to pain stiffness after playing. To make it even more demanding, reaching forward while doing this causes the extensor muscles of the area to contract and hold the torso up so it doesn’t fall over.

Chiropractors are experts on low back pain so there are a ton of ways we can help with this complaint. I usually mobilize the low back and pelvis with chiropractic adjustments to get everything moving and help relieve pain and stiffness. Next, I’ll do some myofascial release and tissue release techniques to the low back to help it loosen up and become more functional. Lastly, I work with athletes to improve their squat. If they can improve their squat they can create a more stable low back and pelvis, and ultimately generate more strength and power in the legs and gluteal muscles.

Low back pain and hip pain are common in high school hockey athletes. The good news is that young ones, especially young athletes, usually respond very well and quickly to the chiropractic care we provide. Also, keep in mind that they don’t have to have an injury to see a chiropractor. A lot of athletes come to AccessHealth with the goal of improving their performance, even when they are pain-free.

Lastly, it is a great way to prevent injuries, especially when Reuters Health just concluded that less than 10% of high school coaches have injury prevention programs. If you have any questions or want to talk to a parent in the Cary, NC area that has seen their child become a better young athlete feel free to give us a call.