Susan Guttzeit, LMT, MAISS

Active Isolated Stretching Specialist

Active Isolated Stretching

What is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)?

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) remodels the body using gentle, rhythmic movements. Each stretch is active and repeated numerous times. I assist you with the movements to get the most out of it. You'll feel more limber, relaxed and fit.

How is AIS different?

AIS is a dynamic stretching routine that avoids triggering the stretch reflex, a rebound contraction in the tissues you are trying to stretch. The gentle, rhythmic movements produce a more balanced, relaxed state. The avoidance of pain and stress produces safer, more effective and longer-lasting results. Active movements allow the stretch to occur naturally through a process called reciprocal inhibition. Repeating the movement numerous times creates a vascular pumping action that flushes the tissues with nutritive blood and oxygen and removes metabolic waste products. The positive outcomes are decreased inflammation and pain, greater mobility, and less muscular and fascial tension and restriction.

Stretch Reflex 

The stretch reflex is a mechanism in your muscles that protects your body against harmful stretches. For example, when a muscle is stretched too far or too quickly, the stretch reflex causes the muscle to contract to protect against being overstretched.

Reciprocal Inhibition

Reciprocal inhibition is a neuro-physiological reaction that occurs during muscle contraction. This is how it works: When one muscle contracts, the opposite one receives a signal to relax. This is a physiological mechanism; it is automatic. Active muscle engagement uses our body’s own inherent system to relax the muscle being stretched. Gentle active movements allow us to lengthen the muscles safely.

How does AIS achieve consistently positive results?

AIS accomplishes consistently positive outcomes by pumping lymph and blood throughout the tissues of the body. The venous (blood) and lymphatic (immune) systems require active muscle contraction to do their job.  If there is no activity in the muscle, fluid builds up and the tissue becomes stagnant such as when you stand up after sitting for a long time and your muscles are stiff. Every repetition of each stretch acts to create a vascular (circulatory) flush, which pushes cellular debris and waste products out of injured tissue and pulls in fresh blood and oxygen to reinvigorate and repair the body. 

Every stretch not only creates a flush of fresh blood but it begins to relax the muscles by lengthening slowly but surely the tight muscles and fascia. Each repetition acts like a deep tissue stroke through the area, deeply relaxing the muscles and fascia.

Your nervous system also benefits from reduced tension and muscular reeducation by repeating the stretches along exact planes of motion. Often you’ll notice instant changes in joint mobility and soft tissue suppleness.  AIS is an excellent entry level exercise program by increasing joint stability, creating deeper relaxation of tissues, and resetting joint awareness.

Benefits of AIS

AIS produces consistently superior results for improved flexibility and circulation without injuring muscle tissue. Stretching prepares the body for physical activity, decreases soreness after strenuous work, and promotes recovery from injuries.

Some conditions that benefit from AIS are:

  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica
  • Neck pain
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tendinitis
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle spasms

Assisted Stretching

Trained AIS practitioners provide a customized stretching routine for each person based on individual needs.  Assistance is particularly beneficial after injuries, for chronic pain, and in post-operative conditions. If muscles are too weak to move the joints, assisted stretching helps a person achieve consistent results.

What to Expect in an AIS Session

AIS sessions are relaxing, enjoyable and easy. I guide you through stretches performed standing, seated or lying on a massage table. The stretches are done fully clothed. Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move.

For more information on AIS:

Request Article on "Stretching and Aging" by email:

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
© Copyright 2019 Susan Guttzeit, LMT, MAISS. All rights reserved.