What is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)?
Active Isolated Stretching is the first comprehensive and progressive stretching technique based on scientific observations, years of clinical experience, and scientific research. Unlike most stretching techniques, AIS is a dynamic stretching program. It does not hold stretches for long. AIS focuses on rhythmical gentle movements, two-second holds and many repetitions.
How is AIS different?
AIS differs from other stretching methods in two ways. First, each stretch is held for two seconds to avoid triggering the stretch reflex. Second, AIS uses active muscle contraction of one muscle to allow lengthening of the opposite muscle through a process called reciprocal inhibition. AIS uses repeated and rhythmical muscle contractions held for two seconds to achieve a safe and effective stretch every time.
The stretch reflex is a mechanism in your muscles that protects your body against harmful stretches. When a muscle is stretched too far, too quickly or for too long, the stretch reflex causes the muscle to contract to protect against being overstretched.
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. By engaging the muscles we access our body’s own system to relax the muscle being stretched. By using muscle contractions and keeping the movements slow and gentle we respect the stretch reflex. This combination of gentle active movements allows 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:
- Chronic pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Neck pain
- Frozen shoulder
- Muscle spasms
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: www.aisnorthwest.com/ais.html