This is the second in a five part series. Read the first article on the ankle here.
Continuing on with our bottom-up approach to dryland goalie training today we will move up to the knee. The knee is fantastic at bending and straightening (flexion and extension), that is its forte. The knee is not great at rotating or side bending. So the goal of training is not only to maximize its performance in the strong positions, but also to train the muscles that will help keep it out of its vulnerable positions.
Unfortunately, there are very common exercises used to strengthen the muscles that cross the knee, which can do more harm than good. The seated knee extension and the seated or lying leg curl work the quadriceps and the hamstrings respectively in isolation. The problem is that these muscle groups never really work in isolation when you are playing goal (or playing any position). They work in conjunction with the muscles of the hips and/or lower leg to function as part of the kinetic chain.
The number one thing I worry about with the knee, or any joint, is a fully- functional range of motion. So first of all, let’s see if you can:
- Bring your heel up to your butt
- Straighten your knee fully
Then we can look at a functional movement like an assisted squat, where you hold on to a chair or doorway for balance and support as you try to get down into a nice, deep, full squat. The hip will have an impact on that as well, but you will definitely know if your knee is the limiting factor with this one.
If you can get down into that low range, then take a look at your bodyweight squat to a thighs parallel position. Can you get to thighs parallel without rounding your lower back? Without letting your heels lift off the floor? Without letting your knees pinch in at all?
So far, so good! Okay the final challenge is to do a nice thigh parallel squat on one leg. Same deal, you cannot round your back, lift your heel or let your knee fall inward. If you can do that perfectly then you are showing that you have good mobility, stability and strength in the muscles that cross the knee (with some good help from the hip stabilizers). Good for you! Feel proud – until we get to the hip.
Maria Mountain is the strength and conditioning coach to Olympic, World and Stanley Cup Champions. She specializes in off ice training for hockey goalies. Visit www.GoalieTrainingPro.com to learn more or click here for your free copy of the Ultimate Guide to Durable and Flexible Hips for Goalies