Training Around FAI in Ice Hockey

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) is a condition where there is too much friction in the hip joint from bony irregularities that cause a decreased hip range of motion and is a common hip abnormality in hockey populations.

Studies have shown that by Midget age (16-19 years old) 93% of hockey players show signs and symptoms of the condition, with limited hip flexion and a loss of internal rotation and adduction of the hip.

In my opinion, these issues should be accounted for when programming off-ice training. Here are 3 ways we program around these potential hip issues while still make improvements in strength and power.

  1. Stay Out of Deep Hip Flexion — Asking a hockey player to squat deep or reach deep hip flexion will undoubtedly result in further hip issues. Since we know the hockey hip doesn’t like to or can’t get into deep hip flexion, were rarely asking it to. Things like Trap Bar DL instead of Back/Front Squats or Cleans from the Hang instead of the floor.
  2. Primarily Single Leg — As Kevin Neeld said in his book 📖 ‘Speed Training for Hockey’, single leg exercises offer the additional advantage of providing more degrees of freedom should the athlete accidentally approach end-range hip flexion.
  3. Emphasis on the Posterior Chain — Hockey player and people with FAI both tend to have weaker posterior chains. Because of that, we focus a lot on strengthening the backside. 1-Leg RDL’s, heavy Sled Marches, and Slideboard Leg Curl variations make up a large chunk of our lower body training, especially in-season.

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