A couple weekends ago I had an opportunity to take the first 4-hour segment of a 16-hour course on Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) as part of the program for my massage school. If you aren’t familiar with AIS, it’s a specific stretching technique developed by Aaron Mattes that, as the name implies, serves to isolate specific muscles and stretch them for 1.5-2 seconds at a time, for multiple repetitions. The shorter holds are meant to avoid the body’s natural tendency to tense up, and to facilitate increased blood flow to the stretched muscle. The other important concept is that you’re supposed to “pull yourself into the stretch” by contracting the antagonist or opposing muscle to the one being stretched.

I had read Aaron’s book several years ago, and to be honest, didn’t really do a lot with it. I’m still not ready to drink the AIS Kool-Aid, as I think most stretching techniques can be effective when applied appropriately, but I’ve been using one of the stretches we learned in class, and another I fabricated based on AIS concepts. These are two great stretches for hockey players to help open up their hips, which should be a focus year-round.

Not yet.

Rectus Femoris AIS
With this one, you want to set up so that you feel a slight stretch in the hip flexor of the back leg. Squeeze your butt, and start to pull your heel toward your butt using your hamstrings. When you’ve gone as far as you can, pull the band to increase the stretch through your quads.

Hip External Rotator AIS
This one can be a bit trickier regarding the “active” part, but the general idea is to start to pull yourself into the stretch position and finish with the band. You should notice, with both, that you’re able to go a little further with each repetition.

We’ve been using these before our dynamic warm-up and after our training sessions with certain players. Give them a try and post your thoughts below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Check out other videos like this and subscribe to my YouTube channel here: Hockey Training Coach

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!