Helping Your Performance, On and Off the Ice: Massage Therapy and Hockey

Helping Your Performance, On and Off the Ice: Massage Therapy and Hockey

Helping Your Performance, On and Off the Ice: Massage Therapy and Hockey

Cagla Baktiroglu is a graduate from CCMH, is now working at one of the largest sports medicine clinics in the country. She also visits a few clients in their homes on a monthly basis.

When Cagla is not busy with her work, she plays hockey and recently competed in the Women’s World Championships Division 2 Group B, in Akureyri, Iceland.

We’ve spoken with Cagla before about her experience as a kinesiology student finding her calling in Massage Therapy. Today she joins us to talk about the benefits of Massage Therapy for hockey players like herself.

Cagla, thanks for answering some questions for us! What injuries are most common among hockey players?

Hockey is a very demanding sport and, without proper preparation, it can be very hard on the body even for the goalies. The injury really depends on the level of participation (contact or non), position played, pre-existing injury, equipment worn, and general aggression of the participating player. For example, in contact games, dislocated shoulders are common.

Outside of concussions, ice hockey players are most prone to lower body injuries. Due to the mechanics of the skating stride – pushing off the inside edge with external (outward) knee rotation – the hip joint and knee joints will sustain the greatest amount of soft tissue damage and wear. Sprains and strains are common, reported as groin strains and torn meniscus. Also reported is general tightness of iliotibial bands, hamstrings, gluteals and hip flexors.

Why would you recommend Massage Therapy to hockey players and other athletes?  

Massage Therapy can prevent muscle and joint injuries, boost performance, and extend a player’s career. Keeping muscles operating at their optimal length and strength can keep injuries at bay throughout the season.

Rest and recovery for any athlete is just as important as the active training. Massage Therapy will work to decrease healing time, reduce swelling, increase/maintain flexibility and range of motion, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, increase relaxation and/or excitation of tissues and break down scar tissue from old injuries.

More and more athletes are understating the benefits and are incorporating Massage into their training regiments.

Think about it like your car – you don’t just fix it when the engine breaks down, you make sure to keep it maintained to avoid any big issues. Massage Therapy is very much like this and being used by all kinds of athletes for its preventative and maintenance abilities.

That’s a great analogy. Did Massage Therapy improve your own athletic performance? How so?

Massage Therapy has helped my performance, on and off the ice. The greatest application of Massage Therapy for me has been its use in breaking down scar tissue from previous injuries and increasing flexibility. These are very important things for keeping me in the game!

Is there a specific massage routine you may recommend for hockey players? (i.e. Post-game, pre-game, twice a week, etc.)

Like any treatment or exercise, a specific routine or treatment schedule will depend on the player and their performance needs.

As a weekend warrior, it is recommended to receive therapy every three weeks. This is dependent on the player completing remedial exercises or ‘homework’ exercises on their own. Without this self-motivation, treatment every other week could have ideal benefits for the player.

As a competitive athlete, it would be ideal to have a RMT on staff who could perform pre-game and/or post game treatments, although this is not the case for most. Once a week is recommended for those who are competing throughout the week. This is also dependant on the compliance with remedial home exercises.

Sometimes Massage Therapy can be uncomfortable, so it is important to coordinate with recovery days and make sure your therapist understands your needs and training schedule.

Just be aware, these are just guidelines, many variables may affect your treatment schedule set up and agreed upon with your therapist.

Any other advice you have for hockey players and/or athletes who are not necessarily taking good care of their bodies?

Drink more water than you think is enough and maintain flexibility. We focus so much on our specific sport that mobility usually takes a hit. Being unable to touch your toes or reach behind your back are good indicators that it might be time to focus on your range of motion and mobility.

Thanks so much for joining us and sharing your experiences both personal and professional when it comes to Massage Therapy and hockey!

Interested in pursuing a career as a Massage Therapist who wants to work with athletes? It’s easier than you think! Email us at [email protected]! Learn about our other students who found their path at CCMH by checking out our blog. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more inspiration!


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