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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton

Active Isolated Stretching- Can dynamic stretching therapy help you?

Whether you suffer from an injury or hope to prevent one active isolated stretching might be right for you. By keeping your body moving and increasing flexibility through controlled stretching techniques you can actually improve the effectiveness of your other exercises and even your physiotherapy treatments, ensuring your body is correctly aligned, relaxed, and loosened.

Regular stretches are held for about 10 seconds and only use the pull or weight of your body - think of touching your toes to stretch your hamstrings or doing a butterfly to stretch your inner thighs.

Active isolated stretching (AIS) focuses on a specific muscle and improves flexibility or range of motion with a rope or band. The rope provides resistance during the exercise that helps pull the muscle just a little further than your body would naturally allow in traditional stretching. Stretches are only held for a few seconds before release, going slightly deeper than you might feel comfortable, allowing your body to reach new levels of flexibility with each stretch. This active part of stretching can improve the range of motion by 6 – 10 degrees. By using a rope or aid to help isolate the muscle the rest of your body can relax. This therapy technique allows you to have greater control over the degree of stretch, allowing you to stretch further without causing accidental stress.

AIS trains your body and mind to accept a greater range of motion and flexibility in a safe and controlled manner. It is often associated with athletes and active people, but AIS has been proven to help inactive people maintain healthy movement too.

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 only focus on those that are most frequently used.

When your muscles contract during traditional stretching, where you hold for anywhere between 10 – 30 seconds, there are a number of things that can happen. Micro-tearing can occur and then the build-up of scar tissue occurs as the muscle heals from this seemingly innocent stretch. With AIS, fresh blood and oxygen are pumped into the muscle 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!

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 would otherwise not engage. Traditional stretching stretches 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 are targeting muscles that might otherwise be overlooked and help strengthen them.

AIS is used clinically in injury rehabilitation because it is gentle and a natural way to work through 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. AIS can potentially change how your body feels entirely, so speak to your therapist about the benefits today!


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