Hip Strength and Flexibility in Hockey Players with Adductor Strains

By: Francois Prizinski, DPT, OCS
In 2001, The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a nice article titled, “The Association of Hip Strength and Flexibility With the Incidence of Adductor Muscle Strains in Professional Ice Hockey Players”.
The authors looked at a total of 47 players, 8 of whom experienced a total of 11 adductor muscle strains and 4 hip flexor strains. They found preseason hip adduction strength to be 18% lower in the players who subsequently sustained an adductor muscle strain compared with that of uninjured players. Adduction strength was measured at 95% compared to abduction strength in the uninjured players but only 78%  in the injured players.
Preseason hip adductor flexibility was not different between players who sustained adductor muscle strains and those who did not. These results indicate that preseason hip strength testing of professional ice hockey players may be able to identify players at risk of developing adductor muscle strains. The authors found a player was 17 times more likely to sustain an adductor muscle strain if his adductor strength was less than 80% of his abductor strength (whats that on a MMT, 4+?).
This article is especially interesting as it adds unique information to what is known about the classic “adductor strain.”  The results showed: 1. that flexibility was not a variable in injury among professional hockey players  2. a deficit of adductor vs. abductor strength is a variable that can lead to injury a  3. adductor strength was 86% of abductor strength on the uninjured side but only 70% of mean abduction strength on the injured side in the same athlete.
Articles like this are always meaningful and of interest when athletes are prescreened and assessed post injury. Given the sport of hockey requires strong hip abduction strength to generate a stride, hip adduction strength must also be strong enough to eccentrically control the movement. This is similar in concept to the throwing athlete, but different in that the adductors where not tight as a posterior shoulder might be.
Tyler T, Nicholas SJ, Campbell RJ, McHugh MP. The Association of Hip Strength and Flexiblity with the Incidence of Adductors Muscles Strains in Professional Ice Hockey Players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001; 29:124-28.

All Comments

  • A good article….I abstracted that one way back in 2001! One change I felt should be considered since I read that article….making sure the “adductor” strain is not actually a labral injury with the usual referred pain into the adductor group. Also, since many hockey teams are “club” teams, versus actual school sponsored groups, an ATC may not be available to screen these athletes…making it that much more important that we get the word out to coaches and players…and help screen when offered the opportunity!

    John Duffy, PT OCS January 26, 2011 10:17 pm Reply
  • Great post Francois. Duffy has a good point…Preventing these injuries through screening and eduction is much easier than reacting to the strain.

    Joseph Brence, DPT January 26, 2011 10:24 pm Reply
  • This is a great post! After reading it, the thought process definitely makes sense and likely applies to most skating athletes…however, intuition would have said that the muscles were tight…just another reminder how important it is to rely on the literature

    adriennezeiler January 28, 2011 10:45 am Reply

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