I would like to know what to do after a heavy skate in the way of stretching, riding bikes, etc. to be able to recover and maintain leg muscle? I'm pretty clueless in the department of post workout stuff.

Matt B

Hey Matt

Great question as I get this a lot from my players.

Let me first explain the simple process that takes places following a heavy skate in regards to recovery, muscle soreness etc.

When using your muscles to their extremes as you do in a heavy skate you produce a byproduct of muscle use called lactic acid. This lactic acid will build up in your muscles and in some cases actually cause muscle damage at the cellular level. In addition when using your muscles to this extreme you will have muscle breakdown again at the cellular level. Keeping this in mind it is important then to make sure that after a workout you do a few things to help your recover more quickly and hopefully avoid muscle soreness as much as possible.

The following few suggestions will help to increase blood flow through the area therefore allowing the lactic acid and other toxins to get flushed out of the area and also allow for new nutrients to be introduced to the area via new blood and therefore to help the area to heal faster.

  1. Perform a static stretch after a hard skate either in a game or in a practice. In previous articles you have heard me talk about how you should always perform warm up stretches via dynamic stretching exercises. Although this is true it is also true that following your workout you should cool down with a static stretch. Make sure to stretch as many major muscles as possible by holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  2. You may also want to finish a hard workout with 20 minutes on the bike or a jog. This should not be fast paced but rather only hard enough to get the blood flowing through the area. If you are more concerned about your legs then the bike is your best bet. Usually 15-20 minutes will suffice.
  3. I actually don’t know how effective it is but some of my players swear by an ice bath. Yes an ice bath. The theory is that the ice will help decrease the inflammation caused by damage done to the muscle cells therefore helping to decrease the damage.
  4. Maybe the most effective and most researched way to help recover after a hard workout is the effects of a massage to the muscles that were most used. This can be done via a massage therapist or via some of the self-massage devices on the market today. Basically what this does is to increase the blood flow through the area therefore helping to increase the nutrients to the area as well as to help to excrete lactic acid and other toxins in the area.
  5. Increase water intake will also help to allow the body to excrete the toxins in the area. Make sure you are always well hydrated.


I find that different athletes respond differently to the above options. Your best bet is to try them and see what works best for you.

Good luck

Dr. Clint Steele, DC, CSCS

Dr. Steele is founder and president of Better Hockey (www.betterhockey.com) and TOP DOG Athlete (www.topdogathlete.com). Better Hockey The Magazine is the world’s largest hockey specific training publication on the market today. In addition Better Hockey.com is the worlds largest hockey training website and includes hundreds of pages of articles, drills, pictures, training programs, video clips, audio clips and more. Dr. Steele has trained hundreds of hockey players from all over the world from novice players to NHL players. 


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