Active Isolated Stretching Exercises Can Be A Safe Solution

How Does Active Isolated Stretching Exercises Works?

Active Isolated Stretching ExercisesActive isolated stretching exercises are a form of natural healing therapy that increases the range of motion and allows the body to function more efficiently. Active Isolated Stretching is an effective therapeutic treatment for deep and superficial fascial release. Active isolated stretching exercises are practiced in many areas of healthcare and sports, by a multitude of professionals including Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Personal Trainers, and Athletes.

Active isolated stretching exercises are the first comprehensive and progressive stretching technique based on scientific observations, years of clinical experience, and scientific research. When the active isolated stretching exercises are used on a regular basis, it not only prevents injuries, it helps to achieve faster recovery time. Active Isolated Stretching is a myofascial release technique that reaches all muscle groups in the body.Active isolated stretching exercises is a facilitated, stretching technique that uses active movement and reciprocal inhibition to achieve optimal flexibility.

What is Active Isolated Stretching?

Stretching is an activity that eludes most of us as runners, walkers, and hikers. When I ask my clients, “Have you stretched since I last saw you?” most sheepishly look away and mumble, “Nooo.” Stretching is something we all want to do and know it is good for us, yet somehow drop it from our exercise programs. I often hear people say that they would stretch more if it didn’t hurt so much and if they could actually see a difference in their flexibility.

What they don’t know is that they should see a difference after they stretch and it doesn’t have to be painful. Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a technique that helps people maximize the effectiveness of stretching without causing the sort of discomfort that keeps a lot of us away from it.

You may be asking yourself, “What is Active Isolated Stretching?” AIS is a specific stretching program developed by Aaron Mattes over 30 years ago. Mattes is a registered Kinesiotherapist and Licensed Massage Therapist who has dedicated his practice to helping both professional and amateur athletes become more agile and less injured. Read more here.

How active isolated stretching exercises work, the fundamental feature of active isolated stretching is the performing of several repetitions which are held for just two seconds at a time.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS): Failure to Include this Will Sabotage Your Exercise Program

How Does Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) Work

So how does AIS differ from the myriad of modalities available for aches, pains and greater athletic performance?There are three main principles of AIS that will help you understand this method of flexibility.

First, active isolated stretching uses your body’s own laws to facilitate the results I am speaking of. The stretches are held for only 1.5-2 seconds, and are completed in repetitions.The reason for this is that when a stretch is held for longer than two seconds, a protective mechanism called “myotatic stretch reflex” is triggered. This reflex happens in your body under many normal circumstances. However in elite performance, injury rehabilitation or the desire to instill lasting changes in the body, this reflex is undesirable.

The aforementioned is true because when the myotatic stretch reflex is initiated (by holding stretches for more than approx. 2.5-3 seconds), the muscle being stretched will begin to contract, creating what is known as an eccentric contraction – something we do not want to happen.Allowing the myotatic stretch reflex to occur while stretching causes oxygen to be depleted from the tissue being stretched. Reduction of oxygen is the opposite of what you want to happen in a rehabilitation or performance situation. See more here.

Active isolated stretching exercises are the cornerstone of the business of bodywork; it is a vital component to the prevention of injury and rehabilitation.

Active Isolated Stretching Exercises

Benefits of AIS

Active isolated stretching not only improves range of motion and flexibility, but also benefits your cardiovascular system and lymphatic system. Doing active isolated stretches improves blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to nerve fibers and muscle tissue, which promotes health and growth. Stretching your muscles stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluids to remove cellular waste products. Flexible, stretched muscles reduce muscle spasms, strains and injuries from torn muscles.


Hold each active isolated stretch for no more than two seconds. Your stretch reflex will activate and cause the stretched muscle to contract if you hold the stretch longer than about two seconds. Relax and then repeat the stretch up to 10 times. Assisted stretches allows you to stretch the muscle a little farther than you could without assistance. Use a partner or a rope to help coax your muscle to a greater stretch. Assisted stretches should be gentle and not cause pain.


The muscle isolation aspect of active isolated stretches is advantageous to rehabilitation from injury. Muscle isolation ensures that only the targeted muscle or muscle group is stretched. Restrictions in mobility and range of motion can be specifically targeted. Stretching can then be applied directly to the restricted area and to proximate muscles and muscle groups to improve mobility. Active isolated stretches are assisted to a slightly greater range of stretch, which is increased incrementally. Gentle stretching beyond your current flexibility limits re-trains your nerves and brain to recognize the new, greater range of motion. Read full article here.

Active Isolated Stretching Can Expand The Potential Of Any Body

The underlying theory behind active isolated stretching exercises is that if a muscle is stretched too far, too fast, or for too long, it elicits a protective action known as the myotatic reflex, causing it to automatically and ballistically recoil in an attempt to prevent the muscle from tearing. Active isolated stretching exercises are effective because it does not provoke the protective stretch reflex and therefore allows for actual, progressive lengthening of muscle fibers.  Some of the factors that illustrate the uniqueness of active isolated stretching exercises are the precise targeting of individual muscles and parts of muscles instead of large muscle groups.

Active isolated stretching exercises are able to generate lengthening with elasticity, to more effectively prevent injury, increase the range of motion in the joints, and provide optimal function, as well as addressing neuromuscular reprogramming. If you suffer from neck, back, shoulder, hip or knee pain or stiffness, Active isolated stretching exercises is a safe solution that offers tremendous relief quickly.  For more information about different techniques of stretching exercises, we at Chiropractor San Diego Mission Valley could help you, just call us here: (619) 831-8777 anytime. Active Isolated Stretching can significantly help prevent sports injuries and allows you to intensify your training, protect you from pain, spasms, and tension which will ultimately inhibit your movements.

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Author: Allison Yardley

Allison has 6 years in practice as a Chiropractor's Assistant and is a licensed Massage Therapist who writes for numerous blogs online. Feel free to comment or ask questions regarding any of Alley's blog posts.