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December 30, 2014

Why you need to do unnatural things

The term “natural” gets thrown around all the time. It has many different contexts and meanings. One thing that has struck me recently is that people aren’t willing to do stuff to fix or optimize their bodies. I could speculate on the various reasons as to why. But, one thought struck me: people don’t realize that our environment, culture, and society are not set up to optimize their body and performance.

Let’s look at sitting as an example. To examine sitting, let’s look at why it is unnatural, how our environment/culture/society exacerbates this, how it affects us, and how to fix it.

Why: Our bodies are not designed to sit. In fact, they are designed to either move, squat low (ass to grass), or lay down. Sitting requires that our hip flexors are engaged while in a semi-lengthened state. Lot’s of sitting also causes compression of the lumbar spine, turning the glutes off, tightening hip flexors, and jamming your femur into the front of your hip socket.

How: In our society, for most jobs, travelling and most of our education, we sit! Unless we do something active as a job, most of our day is spent sitting.

Effect: Tight hip flexors can turn off the glutes, lead to lower back pain, hip pain, hip movement asymmetries. Lumbar spine compression can cause back pain and core dysfunction. Femurs jammed forward in hip sockets can interact with or cause the tight hip flexors, and then lead to all the same issues of tight hip flexors, thereby preventing full hip extension and flexion.

How to fix: Putting your spine into extension through the Mackenzie Push-Up, using the Egoscue method to reset your hip flexor tension, trigger point your glutes and hip flexors, stretch your hip flexors.

To undo the damage of doing something unnatural for your body (sitting), you need to do seemingly unnatural things (in terms of what our culture/society considers natural) to reverse the damage (trigger point, stretching, therapy). 

Let’s look at some other unnatural stuff in our lives here in the western world and seemingly “unnatural” fixes for them:

  • Distractions (phones, media, social media) and meditation/mindfulness
  • Shoes and foot exercises
  • Lights and sleep hygiene
  • Shitty quality food and supplements
  • Sedentary lifestyle and the need for crossfit or “exercise programs”
  • Desk jobs and shoulder mobilization exercises

Your life is full of unnatural things, conventions, and demands. I hope you’ll consider that with all this unnatural (for your body) stuff in your environment, you’ve gotta do some unnatural (for society/culture) stuff to fix it!

December 30, 2014

Play 1on1’s like an NHL Defenseman – Gap Control

I want to write this article for players at about the Bantam and Midget level who want to improve their defensive 1on1 play off of rushes. I have noticed that players at this level struggle with setting and reducing their gap against forwards effectively. Not being far removed from Bantam and Midget myself, I remember well the learning steps I have gone through recently, specifically watching and learning from NHL defensemen that I’ve had the opportunity to skate with.

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December 2, 2014

Tight as S#%$??? Use this guide to get the most from your Yoga class

My appraisal of yoga?

It’s funny you should ask. But really, I’ve said it before here, that if you’re optimizing your time, you don’t need to go and become a Yoga master to make yourself better at hockey. You can incorporate some of the wisdom from yoga practice into optimizing your body, FOR HOCKEY.

And I’ve also said it before, that Yoga is a great activity to give yourself some “away from hockey time”. For me, I love reading, learning, the outdoors. If Yoga is something you enjoy, then by all means, hit it up.

That aside, if you find yourself heading into a Yoga class because:

  • You are a creep
  • Your team is doing it
  • You’re going with your boyfriend/girlfriend
  • You wanna try it out
  • Any other reason

…then here are some things to try out.

Why do you need this guide?

Ok, I’m not one of those people who is going to tell you that you could potentially hurt yourself from Yoga if you don’t pay attention to this guide. But, I will tell you that after practicing Yoga I have experienced:

  • Delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Muscular strains

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December 2, 2014

Guest Post: LIVE your Hockey Career by Ilan Cumberbirch

The purpose of this blog is to get unfiltered, beyond the basics, REAL information to younger players who can make use of it. It was with this in mind that I’ve asked various teammates, past and present, to write some guest blog posts for me. As a young player, I constructed my knowledge of what a hockey career looks like from stories. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have access to stories of players going into college when I was PeeWee, because I didn’t know anyone doing that. If you don’t have a personal connection with someone at a different part of their hockey career than you, you really only have access to the stories your teammates tell you. I’m happy that there are more articles coming out online that provide younger players and less experienced parents with information and stories that can inform their path.

It is kind of daunting to throw your ideas out onto the world wide web for all to see and appraise, so I haven’t had any takers on the guest post, until now…

Enter Ilan Cumberbirch:


Ilan, Cumby, Cumbario, is a close friend of mine and was my teammate at UBC for my first three years as a Thunderbird. He is known for his humour, big personality, and big heart…oh and probably his hair. He has written a post on how to LIVE your hockey career. Ilan is on a similar path to my own in that he is pursuing, what for most, appears to be an unclear career path as a hockey/strength and conditioning coach. Ilan is smart, graduating from UBC with a B.Sc in Kinesiology. What I like about this post is that it incorporates stories of his own struggles and uses it to suggest solid advice to players at any point of their career. It’s also impressive that he is able to expose himself with confidence and candor, while maintaining his humour and charm.

Thanks to Ilan, Enjoy!

LIVE your Hockey Career

I am currently sitting at my living room table in Geleen, Netherlands, listening to a Tim Ferris podcast, baking a sweet potatoe for my pregame meal, and contemplating how to begin my first ever blog post.

I’ve been toying with this since Jason asked me a couple weeks ago, contemplating how to approach it, from what perspective will be most relative for the reader, and how my life in hockey can be of some sort of literary stimulation and (hopefully) entertainment to you the reader…. Much like my hockey career; I’m diving in head first, unknowing what the outcome may be or how it will conclude.

My position in the game of hockey has been relatively diverse. Since the age of 5 I have been a student of the game, being taught by some of the most knowledgeable, and arguably some of the least knoweldgeable “teachers” of the game. I played my minor hockey for the Vancouver Thunderbirds Minor Hockey Association (VTMHA), which at the time was not known for being a hockey powerhouse by any means. Garnering the majority of their players from the west side of Vancouver, to most, hockey was considered a recreational activity to be played until it was time to “grow up” “get serious” and pursue some form of high eduation. Having said that, I grew up with a relatively unique demographic of kids, many of whom I’m still good friends with today, many of whom are highly successful individuals in worlds far removed from hockey.

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