Hip injuries to Goalies what Shoulders are to Pitchers
Video: how to tell difference between injury and serious problem
I read InGoal Magazine’s recent article about Niklas Backstrom’s hip injury and the historic and medical link between butterfly goalies and hip surgery with great interest.
Unlike many strength and conditioning coaches, I started working with athletes from an injury prevention, or injury rehabilitation perspective while working as the exercise specialist in the physiotherapy department at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic in London, Ontario.
I learned during my time there that there were often – not always, but usually – some missing elements in the athletes’ preparation that contributed to the injuries, and that if we could correct those elements the player could often return to play without pain and often times perform more effectively on the ice.
However, there were other injuries that had more to do with an athlete’s anatomy being incongruent with the demands of their position. This can be the case for baseball pitchers. One of my mentors, an orthopaedic surgeon, still tells me: “The human shoulder was not designed to throw a baseball 94 miles per hour! It is the exceptional shoulder that can make it all the way to the professional level.”
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With the popularity (and effectiveness) of the butterfly style in goaltending, combined with rule changes to thin out the knee stacks on goalie pads as outlined in his article, I think it will be the exceptional hips that make it through a career as a goalie. The number requiring hip surgery in recent years suggests it’s already true.
The goal here is not to scare you in anyway, but to make you aware that not every hip joint is designed to reach the degree of hip internal rotation necessary to have a nice butterfly flare. It is not just muscle tightness that limits some goalies. It can actually be bony obstructions. Trying to force or jam into these positions against the will of a player’s bony anatomy will only result in joint damage.
There is a video below showing a self-screening test that you can do to see what your hip mobility is like. This is just a basic screen, so if you do have a pinch with this movement it does not necessarily mean that you are destined for the operating table, but you need to be aware.
If you experience a similar pinching pain when you play, then you should visit a good sport physio to see what your issue is. Is it bony? Or is it capsular?
The opposite also holds true, if you can do this movement fine, but feel a pinching when you get into that butterfly position, then I would not ignore that – get in to see a good sport physiotherapist.