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Stride Dynamics: Unveiling Hockey Biomechanics - MSR Part 5: Recovery or Swing phase

Updated: Mar 9

Hockey Player

While termed “recovery,” this phase primarily serves as preparation. Initial contact and single-support gliding establish alignment, while single-support propulsion generates power and speed. The recovery phase readies the skater for the next cycle.

In this phase, the skater returns the skate to a neutral position under their body. This alignment is vital for harnessing power from the glutes during the initial contact phase.

Additionally, aligning the skate beneath the body allows for a longer push-off distance, contributing to stride power and speed. It also helps prevent inward knee collapse.

The recovery phase is a preparatory stage that resets the skater’s position for the next stride, ensuring efficiency and power in the skating cycle.

Article Index:


Anatomy and Biomechanics

Hip Flexor Anatomy

Hip Flexors: Key Players in Hockey Stride Recovery

The hip flexors, incorporating muscles like the iliopsoas and rectus femoris, are pivotal in a hockey stride's initial contact and recovery phases. During recovery, their primary function is to elevate the leg, setting the stage for the next stride. This elevation is more than a simple lifting action; it requires precise coordination and timing to synchronize with the skating stride's rhythm.

Compromised hip flexors, due to strain, fatigue, or weakness, can detrimentally affect a player's ability to execute this leg lift efficiently. This inefficiency can disrupt the stride rhythm, slow down subsequent strides, and lead to compensatory overuse of other muscles or altered stride mechanics, potentially resulting in muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.

Maintaining the strength and flexibility of the hip flexors is essential for an effective recovery phase. This can be achieved through specific strengthening exercises, appropriate warm-up routines, and a focus on skating technique. Recognizing the significance of hip flexors in recovery is vital for training and performance analysis in hockey.

Adductors: Essential for Skating Efficiency

The adductor muscles, including adductor longus and magnus, located in the inner thigh, are crucial during the recovery phase of a hockey stride. They are primarily responsible for adduction - moving the leg toward the body's midline.

In the recovery phase, these muscles work collectively to realign the leg back under the body, a key movement for preparing for the next stride. This alignment ensures optimal balance and readiness for the next phase of contact.

When adductors are weakened or compromised due to injury or fatigue, the player's ability to efficiently bring the leg back can be significantly impacted. This inefficiency can lead to an uncoordinated recovery phase, resulting in a less effective stride pattern that reduces speed and increases injury risk due to compensatory movements.

Moreover, impaired adductors can affect a player's stability and balance, as these muscles are integral in controlling the legs' lateral movements.

Therefore, ensuring the strength and functionality of the adductor muscles is vital for a powerful and efficient hockey stride. Achieving this involves targeted strengthening and flexibility exercises and a focus on proper skating technique. Understanding the role of adductors in stride recovery is crucial for developing effective training regimens that address this critical aspect of skating biomechanics.


Motion Specific Release

Hockey Biomechanics Part 5: Terminal Stride Treatment Video Image

Hockey Biomechanics Part 5: Terminal Stride

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


Conclusion MSR Part 5: Recovery or Swing phase

The recovery phase in hockey is more than a transitional period; it's a crucial stage for setting up an efficient and powerful stride. This phase involves aligning the skate beneath the body, essential for utilizing glute power in the initial contact and enhancing stride power and speed. The hip flexors, especially the iliopsoas and rectus femoris, are key in this phase, tasked with elevating the leg for the next stride. This action demands not only strength but also precision in coordination and timing.

Equally important are the adductor muscles, like the adductor longus and magnus, which facilitate bringing the leg back to the body's midline, crucial for optimal balance and readiness for the next movement. Compromises in these muscle groups can lead to inefficient strides and an increased risk of injuries due to compensatory movements. Thus, incorporating targeted exercises and proper skating techniques to maintain these muscles' functionality is vital for enhancing hockey performance. Recognizing the biomechanical significance of the recovery phase is key to improving training and performance in the sport.


Dr. Brian Ableson - The Author

Dr. Brian Abelson

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 in Action

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  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.

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1 Comment

This is a perfect series of article for all hockey aficionados - players and practitioners alike. I love all the great tips on how to resolve injuries, but also appreciate the understanding it provides about the various structures involved in each phase/part of a hockey 'stride'.😊

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