The NHL may market hockey as the "coolest game on earth," but it is also one of the quickest games on earth. With many shifts amounting to 45 seconds of all-out sprinting, the game is undoubtedly intense. As a result, muscle soreness -- if not injury -- is all too common for hockey players. You can combat soreness with a variety of techniques, so if one method doesn't work, you can see if another makes a difference.
If stress or muscle tightness has caused the soreness in your legs, massage may alleviate the discomfort. Massage may help work out muscle knots and improve blood flow into areas of soreness. Improved circulation helps remove waste products that may have built up from exertion. Better blood flow can also help deliver fresh oxygen and other nutrients to sore muscles. Research from the journal "Sports Medicine" also notes that massage may help promote a hormonal balance, encouraging relaxation and improving mood.
If you do not have access to a masseuse, foam rolling may be the next best option. Foam rollers are cylinders about 3 feet long and made of firm foam. These can provide relief if you place a foam roller on the floor under the area of muscle soreness, then move back and forth over it. The pressure should help release muscle knots, relieve tension and reduce soreness. Foam rolling provides similar results to massage, but is less expensive.
Recovery drinks are specially formulated beverages that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates intended to refuel your muscles with nutrients expended during exercise. Drinking fluids is also crucial to prevent cramps and dehydration. Avoid drinks containing alcohol and caffeine, which can have a diuretic effect and promote dehydration.
Many people take baths after long, exhausting days, but the baths that may help exhausted muscles are different than what you might expect -- they involve ice. Sitting waist-deep in a bath full of cold water and ice may help speed up the recovery of your exhausted legs, because it helps push out the lactic acid -- a byproduct of the process your body uses to make fuel for your muscles -- that can build up in your legs during games. According to researchers from Ireland's University of Ulster, ice baths can reduce muscle soreness. However, the researchers note that the method "includes a degree of shock on the body," and other experts say it has a risk of hypothermia, so discuss it with a certified trainer or talk to your doctor first.
- Sports Medicine: The Mechanisms of Massage and Effects on Performance, Muscle Recovery and Injury Prevention
- StrengthCoach.com: Foam Rolling
- Hockey Player: 5 Ways to Reduce Post-Game Soreness
- EurekAlert: Cold Water Baths Reduce Muscle Soreness But Evidence Lacking on Safety
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Many Pediatricians Believe Disproven Parenting Myths
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.