Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) trains your body and mind to accept a greater range of motion and flexibility in a safe and controlled manner. It’s often associated to athletes and active people, but AIS has been proven to help inactive people maintain healthy movement too.
Unlike traditional stretching where you hold a stretch from anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds, AIS has you going into a stretch that is slightly deeper than what you might feel is comfortable – and holding it for 2 seconds only. This reprograms your body and mind to remember new ranges of motion, while improving your muscle flexibility and strength.
Beyond this, AIS techniques are designed to support and work through the whole spectrum of muscles in a particular area – including those responsible for rotating, bending, extending and flexing – so that you don’t focus only on those that are most frequently used.
How Active Isolated Stretching Works
Your muscles have two basic actions: they can either contract or relax.
When your body feels as though a particular movement is going to hurt it, a protective mechanism called the stretch (mytatic) reflex kicks in. This stretch reflex is normally triggered in the muscle at about 3 seconds. It makes sense that only relaxed muscle tissue can stretch to its maximum length, so by holding stretches for under 3 seconds, the muscle’s protective reflex to contract isn’t triggered and it has the chance to stretch to its full length. Repetition of the movement trains the body and mind to accept this new range of motion without signaling the stretch reflex.
Active Isolated Stretching Protects Your Muscle and is Pain Free
When your muscles contract during traditional stretching (where you hold a stretch for anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds) there are a number of things that can happen: micro-tearing can occur, there is a considerable reduction in blood flow and build up of lactic acid, and then the build up of scar tissue occurs as the muscle heals from this seemingly innocent stretch.
With AIS, fresh blood and oxygen is pumped into the muscle tissue at all times. This means your muscle is still being nourished while you work it, avoiding any tears and consequential scar tissue build up. This also means no pain!
Other Benefits to Active Isolated Stretching
AIS isn’t just about helping your range of motion and flexibility; there is some strength building that takes place as you isolate and engage specific muscles you may otherwise not engage. Take traditional stretching, for example: these stretches stretch several muscle groups at once, and although you may feel like they are all engaged, you unknowingly solicit the flexibility of one muscle to compensate for tightness in another muscle. With AIS, you’re targeting muscles that might otherwise be overlooked and helping strengthen them.
Using Active Isolated Stretching for Injuries and Injury Rehabilitation
AIS is a favourite of ours when it comes to injury rehabilitation because it is a gentle and natural way to work through built up scar tissue and restore pain-free movement. This also improves the flexibility and strength of not only the injured muscle, but the other muscles surrounding it that may now be compensating for the pain – which helps prevent future damage from happening.
What would you say if we told you that AIS could potentially change how your body feels entirely? Have a chat with your chiropractor on the potential benefits of Active Isolated Stretching.