(Ed’s Note: While reading this, keep in mind that our resident health and fitness expert, Cam Walsh, penned the piece about 5 days ago. Sidney Crosby had been diagnosed with a hip flexor and no one was really sure of the severity or how long it could potentially hold him out of the line-up. This piece is full of great information and gives us all some insight on what causes a flexor etc.)
By Cameron Walsh
After the first pre season game against the Wings I didn’t really think too much about the hip flexor ‘injury’ that Sidney Crosby had contracted. The feeling I had got from the team report was more of an excuse to get him off the ice after the incident from the Brooks Orpik clumsy hit of Johan Franzen. Call me cynical but it is professional sports and there is some bad blood between the Wings and Penguins.
However seeing as Crosby was scheduled to play the last two games in the pre-season schedule to get the Dan Bylsma required 4 games in for the ‘veteran guys’, I started to think that it might be a touch more than the ‘tweak’ the team is letting out to the media.
The hip flexors are the primary muscles concerned with the lifting of the femur (the upper leg) and the faster they can do this the better for a hockey player. For muscles that are relatively small they play a big part in a hockey players skating stride.
It is also one of the reasons they are treated with so much care, a tight Psoas can cause any running sport athlete issues, as it restricts movement through the hips, the same goes for a hockey player.
A debilitating injury that has crept into Australian Rules Football from this area of the body is call Osteitis Pubis and it is from tightening of the Psoas Major and Illiopsoas to the point where there is no forward or backward tilt in the hips and no ability to lift the legs up.
You can play through it with limited performance but the only ‘cure’ is rest and massage. Once it has corrected itself it is a matter of not over exercising the area and keeping the body balanced front and back, so good hamstring and glute strength in relation to abs and hip flexor strength.
The basics of the hip flexor.
The flexors are made up of four different muscles. The Psoas Major (A), Psoas Minor (B), Illiopsoas (C) and Illiacus Muscle (D). As stated earlier these muscles work together to flex at the hip, lifting the leg towards the body.
Hip flexor strains most commonly occur due to a sudden contraction of the hip flexor muscles (particularly in a position of stretch). Remember how all the players were commenting/complaining on the poor quality of the ice in the first pre-season game. There is a fair chance that Crosby’s hip flexor over compensated through a skating stride or a turn through the ‘bad ice’ and being the first competitive game for the year, his hip flexors just couldn’t take the load.
I know it sounds strange that someone is his condition could end up in a situation like this but at this time of the year players are more in ‘gym shape’ than ‘game shape’. This is why we have a pre-season.
There are 3 levels of hip flexor strains, they range from grade 1 to grade 3 and are classified below:
• Grade 1 Tear: a small number of fibers are torn resulting in some pain, but allowing full function.
• Grade 2 Tear: a significant number of fibers are torn with moderate loss of function.
• Grade 3 Tear: all muscle fibers are ruptured resulting in major loss of function.
From the looks of it, Crosby will have a Grade 1 tear, this is why he has been put in cotton wool, first game is in 2 days, why on earth risk playing him. I know it sounds extremely unlikely that they will sit him out for the first every regular season game at CEC but if you think about how important these 4 small muscles are to a skating stride and what he means to this team, missing 2 games out of 82 wouldn’t be too bad would it?
**Melbourne, Australia’s own Cameron Walsh is a personal trainer by trade, he owns and operates dLuxe Health and Fitness. Walshy is a life long hockey/NHL/Penguins fan and he will be chiming in from time to time on various injuries that pop up in and around this game that we all know and love. He also bears a striking resemblance to the USS Hal Gill… just saying…