Forward start and hip position
For field hockey players, the groin and hip are a prime area for overuse injuries. During the various ice-skating movements, a great deal of force is exerted at the hip, in large amplitudes of movement. This is also the case when a player makes a forward start. This technical aspect is frequently taught to young field hockey players to improve their technique and explosion during execution. During a forward start, the hip is brought into two at-risk positions that increase the likelihood of abutment (snagging of the various structures around the joint) at the hip.
Indeed, that’s what Justin D. Stull and his team described when they analyzed the forward starts of pee-wee players. First of all, the first position at risk would be during abduction and external rotation of the hip, i.e. at the end of the thrust. The second high-risk position would occur during the recovery phase, when the hip is in flexion and internal rotation. It has also been reported that the risk of injury associated with hip abutment is partly related to skating biomechanics and potentially to exposure time on ice, mainly at a young age(1).
An interesting finding of the study was that not all players performed a problematic hip adduction during the recovery phase(1). This difference can be explained by the different body shapes of the players, and their different levels of technical skill. The flexion, adduction and internal rotation position described as risky for abutment(2) could have harmful effects if repeated many times. In short, the biomechanics of the front skate start can have a major influence on performance, but also on the incidence of injury.
In light of these results, it’s important to question our current practices. Completely eliminating this technical gesture from training sessions is certainly not the solution. On the other hand, considering how few times the front skate departure from a static position is used in a match situation, we might wonder about our current teaching methods and techniques. To optimize the effectiveness of training and the health of young field hockey players, coaches and physical trainers should avoid excessive amplitude movements on the ice, specifically during technical movements that are not used in match situations.
Written by Maxime Provencher, M. Physiotherapy
(1)Stull JD, Philippon MJ, LaPrade RF. At risk positioning and hip biomechanics of the pee wee ice hockey sprint start. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Jul;39 Suppl:29S-35S
(2)Rylander L & al. Femoroacetabular impingement and acetabular labral tears. Orthopedics. 2010 May. Vol,33. issue 5: 342-350
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