Alison Bentley, L.M.T.

- Active Isolated Stretching

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

AIS is a relatively new system of stretching developed by Aaron Mattes, an exercise kineseologist, which involves working one muscle at a time.  Based on scientific research, AIS is performed by repeated, gentle and short duration stretches to a muscle before it has a chance to protectively contract. This is more effective than the stretching you learned in high school.


Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) allows you to:

  • Improve athletic performance.
  • Accelerate healing from injuries.
  • Improve range of motion.
  • Improve flexibility.
  • Build muscle strength.
  • Release adhesions (scar tissue) from previous injuries.
  • Prevent injuries by rebalancing the strength in muscle groups.
  • Reduce the effects from diseases like COPD, MS, Parkinson's, Arthritis (No formal studies have been done, but many clients have reported AIS to have been helpful in cases like these).


Active Isolated Stretching or AIS, is different  from traditional stretching techniques, because each stretch is:

  • Only held for 2 - 3 seconds.  Stretches held longer than 3 seconds cause the body's own natural protection system to kick in and work against the stretch.
  • Gentle.  While you may feel tension during each stretch, you should not be in pain during any of the stretch work.
  • Repeated from four to ten repetitions.  During a session each stretch is extended a little further than the previous one. This is possible because the body is not reacting to long duration stretches and this facilitates the recovery of a greater range of motion.
  • Active.  The person being stretched moves their body into and out of the stretch. This active participation engages both the muscle being stretched and its antagonist muscle, causing the target muscle to relax further. This participation also increases the amount of oxygen in the muscle, fascia, and joints involved in the stretch.
  • Assisted by the practitioner at the end of the client's range of motion.  This assist allows a greater range of motion than what the client can achieve alone.
  • Reinforced by the client's breath work.  The client exhales during the extent of the stretch and inhales on the relaxing movement, which helps the oxygenation of the muscles involved in the stretch. Breathing is an important component in the process.
  • Isolated.  Each stretch motion is targeted to a specific muscle and even to different parts of one muscle. This finely tuned set of stretch movements help increase flexibility and range of motion, and resolve adhesions that might otherwise be missed with traditional stretching techniques because all the different muscle fibers get stretched.

In addition to the the stretching, there are active isolated strengthening exercises. These exercises can be added to sessions as flexibilty improves, especially if there is an imbalance of strength between muscle groups, a weak area, or a condition such as MS where strength may be lacking. AIS is used by doctors, therapists, trainers, Olympic and professional athletes. Our muscles become increasingly inelastic as we get older. AIS can make substantial improvements in muscle elasticity, adding renewed life and a spring to our step.


Power of AIS

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