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MSR Stride Dynamics: Unveiling Hockey Biomechanics - Part 2: Single Support Gliding

Updated: Mar 9

Hockey Player in Single Support Gliding Phase

In this pivotal segment of the glide, the skater focuses on stability, utilizing controlled movements to advance the swing leg. This economizes energy, promoting speed and endurance. The glide is initiated with the skate rotating outwardly, setting the stage for the subsequent propulsion with the knee rotating externally in concert.

As this occurs, the upper body counters this motion, beginning a de-rotational movement that primes the body for the upcoming generation of force, all while maintaining an anticipatory lean forward. Energy is being stored, particularly in the quadriceps and hip regions, as the knee remains flexed, readying the skater for the powerful next phase.

Fast skaters particularly exhibit more pronounced hip rotation externally, ensuring the knee is aligned directly over the toes. This alignment is maintained alongside a sustained hip and knee flexion, with the skater's torso leaning ahead, optimizing energy conservation for the moment of release.

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Anatomy & Biomechanics

Primary Anatomical Structures Activated during the "Single Support Gliding" phase are the gluteus maximus and core muscles.

Gluteus Maximus Muscle Image

Gluteus Maximus:

The gluteus maximus, a major muscle in the posterior chain, is integral to the biomechanics of the hockey stride, particularly during the single support phase of gliding. Its primary role is to sustain hip extension, which is vital for maintaining postural stability and facilitating the transfer of kinetic energy along the lower limbs.

A weakened or injured gluteus maximus can greatly hinder a player's skating efficiency. This is due to the muscle's significant contribution to maintaining the extended posture of the hip during gliding, which is crucial for counteracting destabilizing forces. Such impairment may lead to a decrease in propulsion velocity and disrupt the fluidity of movement across the ice.

Optimal function of the gluteus maximus is essential to prevent compensatory strategies that can arise from its underperformance, which may lead to muscular imbalances and predispose other muscle groups to strain or overuse injuries. Targeted conditioning programs and proper biomechanical technique are imperative to fortify this muscle's function and support the athlete's performance during the gliding phase of the hockey stride.

Image of Abdominal Muscles

Core Muscles

The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae, function synergistically as a dynamic support system during the glide phase of a hockey stride. They collectively maintain stability of the trunk and pelvis, harmonizing the movements of the upper and lower body sectors. This muscular network is essential for preserving biomechanical efficiency and ensuring the transfer of forces during athletic maneuvers on the ice.

Image of back muscle anatomy

The rectus abdominis, commonly referred to as the 'abs,' plays a pivotal role in flexing the lumbar region and providing trunk stability. The obliques, critical for trunk rotation and lateral flexion, work alongside to ensure posture remains erect and balanced during the glide phase of skating.

Inadequate core strength or endurance can compromise the player's ability to maintain this essential posture, potentially causing an unstable glide with excessive trunk movement. This instability not only affects performance but may also shift excessive stability demands onto the lower limbs, heightening the risk of overuse injuries.

The core is integral to the efficient relay of force between the lower and upper body, crucial in hockey for executing potent strides and upper body actions like shooting and checking. Targeted core-strengthening exercises, coupled with correct skating form, are fundamental in enhancing performance and minimizing injury risks during the gliding segment of a hockey stride.


Motion Specific Release - MSR

MSR Single Support Gliding demonstration video

Hockey Biomechanics Part 2: Single Support Gliding

Dr. Abelson demonstrates MSR procedures used to release restrictions, helping to improve AROM, address muscle imbalances and improve overall performance.


Conclusion - MSR Part 2: Single Support Gliding

The single support gliding phase in hockey is a masterclass in kinetic efficiency and muscular coordination, where the gluteus maximus and core musculature dictate the stability and energy transfer essential for a powerful stride. The gluteus maximus' role in maintaining hip extension is as crucial as the core muscles' contribution to trunk stability, ensuring a harmonious and dynamic balance between the upper and lower body.

Incorporating Motion Specific Release (MSR) into an athlete's regimen can address biomechanical restrictions, promote a greater active range of motion, and mitigate muscle imbalances, which in turn, bolsters overall skating performance. As we progress in our series on hockey biomechanics, these foundational insights lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding and enhancement of the athletic movements that define the sport.

Article Index

Dr. Brian Ableson - The Author

Dr. Brian Abelson Image

Dr. Abelson's approach in musculoskeletal health care reflects a deep commitment to evidence-based practices and continuous learning. In his work at Kinetic Health in Calgary, Alberta, he focuses on integrating the latest research with a compassionate understanding of each patient's unique needs. As the developer of the Motion Specific Release (MSR) Treatment Systems, he views his role as both a practitioner and an educator, dedicated to sharing knowledge and techniques that can benefit the wider healthcare community. His ongoing efforts in teaching and practice aim to contribute positively to the field of musculoskeletal health, with a constant emphasis on patient-centered care and the collective advancement of treatment methods.


Hockey Game Being Played

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Attend our courses to equip yourself with innovative soft-tissue and osseous techniques that seamlessly integrate into your clinical practice and empower your patients by relieving their pain and restoring function. Our curriculum marries medical science with creative therapeutic approaches and provides a comprehensive understanding of musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment methods.

Our system offers a blend of orthopedic and neurological assessments, myofascial interventions, osseous manipulations, acupressure techniques, kinetic chain explorations, and functional exercise plans.

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  4. Hay, J. G. (1993). In The biomechanics of sports techniques (4th ed.). Prentice-Hall.

  5. Lafontaine, D., & Lamontagne, M. (2003). 3-D Kinematics Using Moving Cameras. Part 1: Development and Validation of the Mobile Data Acquisition System. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 19, 4.

  6. Manners, T. W. (2004). Sport-Specific Training for Ice Hockey. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 26, 16–21.

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  8. Nobes, K. J., Montgomery, D. L., Pearsall, D. J., Turcotte, R. A., Lefebvre, R., & Whittom, F. (2003). A Comparison of Skating Economy on-Ice and on the Skating Treadmill. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 28, 1–11.

  9. Post, A., Oeur, A., Hoshizaki, T. B., & Gilchrist, M. D. (2011). Examination of the relationship of peak linear and angular acceleration to brain deformation metrics in hockey helmet impacts. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 16, 511–519.

  10. Tuominen, M., Stuart, M. J., Aubry, M., Kannus, P., & Parkkari, J. (2015). Injuries in men’s international ice hockey: a 7-year study of the International Ice Hockey Federation Adult World Championship Tournaments and Olympic Winter Games. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49, 30–36.

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