AIS Stretching Techniques to Prevent Low Back Pain | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Volleyball Players: Avoid Low Back Pain With This Stretching Technique

August 6, 2013 | Tony Duckwall

Must See Volleyball Videos

Sore low backs are common among volleyball players midway through the season. Despite their athleticism and dedicated training, many players suffer from back pain. The cause is simple to diagnose but hard to treat.
Volleyball players move in short explosive bursts of three to five steps throughout games and practices. These movement patterns, repeated hundreds of times weekly, have a cumulative effect of shortening the hamstrings. As the hamstrings shorten, they pull on their attachment at the base of the pelvis, which causes the pelvis to rotate backwards, increasing stress at the sacroiliac joint and leading to low back pain.

Although common stretching techniques can provide partial relief, basic static stretching won't completely alleviate the symptoms. However, Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a fantastic technique to gain greater length through the hamstrings and relieve pain. This form of stretching was developed by Aaron Mattes, a registered kinesiotherapist and licensed massage therapist, whose techniques have helped thousands of professional and amateur athletes improve their agility and avoid injuries. Whereas static stretching may temporarily lengthen the muscle, Active Isolated Stretching functions as a multi-pronged approach by loosening tight muscles, grooving new neural patterns and increasing range of motion around the joint. These factors combine to offer immediate relief.

The AIS stretching protocol follows four distinct points:

  1. Isolate the muscle to be stretched
  2. Repeat the stretch eight to 10 times
  3. Hold each stretch for no more than two seconds
  4. Exhale on the stretch; inhale on the release

Athletes and coaches can apply these points to any muscle in the body. However, for preventing low back pain among volleyball players in particular, two muscles are critical: the hamstrings and the piriformis. Start the new stretching protocol by practicing the following stretches after workouts and on recovery days to help gain extra length through these areas.

AIS Hamstring Stretch

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend your right knee slightly and place your right foot flat on the floor to take the tension off your back.
  • Keep your left leg straight with a band or rope draped around your foot. Hold an end of the rope in each hand.
  • Contract your quads and hip flexors and lift your left leg as high as you can, using the rope to increase the stretch with a gentle pull.
  • Hold the stretch for two seconds before lowering your leg back to the ground.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps; repeat with your right leg

AIS Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend your right knee slightly and place your right foot flat on the floor to take the tension off your back.
  • Bend your left knee and rotate it outward so your left ankle is crossed over your right knee.
  • Pull your right knee toward your chest. This should create a stretch deep in your left hip.
  • Hold the stretch for two seconds before lowering back to the ground.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps; repeat with your right leg

Active Isolated Stretching is a great technique to increase flexibility in tight muscles. However, it doesn't take the place of regular flexibility and mobility work. Incorporate the above stretches into your regular flexibility routine to reap the benefits of better movement and less pain throughout the volleyball season.

Read more about relieving back pain:

Photo: coreperformance.com

- Tony Duckwall is the athletic performance director for KIVA volleyball and IFHCK field hockey and co-owner and sports performance director for Louisville-based EDGE Sports Performance....
- Tony Duckwall is the athletic performance director for KIVA volleyball and IFHCK field hockey and co-owner and sports performance director for Louisville-based EDGE Sports Performance....
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 22,697,819
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 2,689,315
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,797,513

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 297,020
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,255,927
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 28,363
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

How to Train With Running Blisters

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain