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:
- Isolate the muscle to be stretched
- Repeat the stretch eight to 10 times
- Hold each stretch for no more than two seconds
- 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.
Source: www.stack.com; Tony Duckwall; August 6, 2013.