Staying active can feel difficult at times simply because of the dedication it takes to be consistent. Of course, there will be days when you don’t feel up to it. You may feel completely unmotivated and the TV will look so much more inviting. However, if you push through and do your daily workout anyway, you will be happy you did. Not many people are able to keep this consistency. Even if you are one of these motivated people, do you take the time you need to fully, and properly, stretch? If you have to think about it, you probably are not stretching enough. While exercise is an important step toward living a healthy life, stretching lowers your chance of injury and allows the body to get the absolute most out of a workout. One of the best things you can do for your body is a special stretching technique called active isolated stretching. At Stretch Zone, we know everything there is to know about getting a good stretch. Let’s take a look at how it can benefit your body.
How Stretching Can Benefit You
Even athletes at the top of their game won’t stretch as much as they need to. This not only puts them at a disadvantage during their workouts, but it could also be putting them at risk of serious injuries. However, athletes and those who are constantly active aren’t the only ones who can benefit from stretching.
Even if you are only active for a small portion of your day, stretching should still be a priority. In fact, those who do live a more sedentary lifestyle should be using stretching to their advantage! To keep your muscles strong, flexible, and healthy, stretching is necessary. This also includes those who are unable to do strenuous activities.
Some great benefits of stretching include:
- Prevention of injuries
- Reducing soreness levels
- Improving posture
Furthermore, it doesn’t only benefit the body. Stretching also benefits the mind! Some notable differences you may see in your mental state include:
- A release of tension
- More energy
One of the most effective types of stretching is active isolated stretching. When completed with the help of a stretch practitioner, this can drastically improve your flexibility and ability to recover from aggressive workouts.
What is Active Isolated Stretching?
Active isolated stretching (AIS) is sometimes called the Mattes Method. It was developed by Aaron L. Mattes decades ago as an amazing way to reduce pain, increase flexibility, and improve performance while decreasing the chance of injury. AIS also restores deep and superficial fascial planes.
As you continue to come to Stretch Zone for assisted stretching sessions with one of our experienced stretch practitioners, you will notice quite the improvement in your flexibility. What you thought wasn’t possible during your first visit can be easily accomplished after just a few sessions.
The AIS technique is based on reciprocal innervation of muscle tissue. The key is to hold a stretch in place for around two seconds before moving back to the resting position. Outside of AIS, stretches are often held for up to 30 or even 60 seconds. So, why will we only be held for two seconds? It’s all due to the myotatic reflex.
The Myotatic Reflex
The theory behind AIS is that the myotatic reflex, sometimes called the stretch reflex, is activated when a muscle is stretched too far or too long. It makes your muscles automatically recoil in about three seconds to prevent a damaging and painful tear. AIS takes advantage of this by having you hold a stretch for only two seconds – just before that myotatic reflex causes the muscle to recoil.
This allows you to get the most out of stretching. Moreover, it provides the opportunity to increase your range of motion and overall mobility much more than with some traditional stretching methods.
The Four-Part Process
To get the full AIS experience, it’s important to follow a four-step process no matter what stretch is being completed.
1. Targeting and Isolating the Muscle Being Stretched
With active isolated stretching, the goal is to isolate the muscle that’s being stretched. Muscles are constantly working together, meaning that when one is being flexed, another is being stretched. We know exactly how to move your body to target the right muscles.
2. Holding the Stretch for Just Two Seconds
This is AIS’s main difference when compared to traditional stretching. Typically, you would be held in this stretched position for about 60 seconds, but with AIS, it’s only two. This is done to completely avoid having to worry about the myotatic reflex.
3. Repeating the Previous Step
After we’ve held your stretch for two seconds, we’ll reset and then do it nine more times. In total, 10 repetitions are completed for each stretch, totaling around 20 seconds of stretching. This is necessary to increase your circulation as much as possible.
4. Make sure to breathe!
Every time you stretch, you should be exhaling. As we release the stretch, you should inhale. If you hold your breath, your muscles won’t get the necessary oxygen they need. To compensate, they will create lactic acid, causing you to feel sore and tired. This can even make you more prone to injury!
Avoiding Lactic Acid
As we’ve pointed out, lactic acid can cause a lot of unnecessary soreness in your muscles. So, the best thing to do is try to avoid lactic acid buildup altogether. We’ve already discussed the importance of breathing, but what about some other helpful strategies?
If you do a lot of exercising, it’s important to rest for a proper amount of time. The more you exercise, the more lactic acid buildup you will have. Resting allows the body to break down this lactic acid so you can get the most out of your body.
Don’t Overdo It
When you’re stretching or exercising, it’s important not to push your body past its limits. If you force your body too far, you may find yourself with a major buildup of lactic acid, leaving you extremely sore and tired. You may even feel muscle cramping, numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation.
As with anything, it’s always important to eat healthy, especially before you exercise. A proper diet will usually include, meats, whole grains, and foods high in potassium and B vitamins.
Keeping hydrated will help remove lactic acid from the body and relieve your sore muscles. It’s recommended you drink eight glasses of water every day, but more is better. Especially, if you exercise daily, you want plenty of water to keep your muscles and joints lubricated.
Magnesium has been seen to lessen the discomfort felt from sore muscles due to lactic acid buildup. Other than magnesium supplements, some foods that are rich in magnesium include leafy greens, seeds, low-fat dairy products, and nuts.
Who Sees the Most Benefits from Stretching?
While everyone can feel the benefits of stretching, those who see the biggest results are typically athletes and pregnant women. Others include sufferers of:
Arthritis can cause a lot of pain and swelling, while also limiting your full range of motion. At Stretch Zone, increasing your range of motion is what we specialize in. With assisted stretching utilizing AIS, we can decrease many of the symptoms you are experiencing due to arthritis.
One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis is the feeling of stiffness. Therefore, what better way is there to combat this feeling than assisted stretching? When you see one of our stretch practitioners, we’ll be able to move your body in ways that may decrease your stiffness and improve your quality of life.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue that connects your toes back to your heel. This inflammation can cause pain, especially when you’re walking. It’s very common with runners, those who are overweight, and people who wear shoes without proper support. With the use of activated isolated stretching, we can reduce this pain and get you back to enjoying your routine.
Sciatica can have multiple causes, but it’s usually due to bone spurs or a herniated disk putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Typically, this is only felt on one side of your body, with the pain being felt from your spine and down the backside of your leg.
AIS can help decrease this pain by focusing on the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and piriformis muscles. The piriformis muscle is actually right above the sciatic nerve, so by opening it up, we can alleviate some of the pressure that causes the pain.
The bottom line is that AIS can bring drastic improvement to your life in many different ways. If you are feeling pain or discomfort in your muscles, an experienced stretch practitioner will know how to properly isolate the affected muscle and provide assisted stretching techniques to get you back to living your life.
How We Perform These Stretches
If you typically have a difficult time stretching or you’re not quite sure of what to do, seeing professionals for an assisted stretching session is going to be your best option. You don’t want to do the wrong thing and risk injuring yourself. However, professionally assisted stretching is not only for those who are inexperienced. This can benefit anyone!
Our incredible assisted stretching practitioners are highly skilled and trained. They’ll easily be able to help you through your AIS routine, and because they are doing all the work, it’s quite a relaxing experience. All you have to do is sit back and feel the amazing benefits.
Some of the Stretches We Perform
At Stretch Zone, we perform many different types of stretches so you can get the most out of your body. Here are just a few examples of what we can do for you when you visit us.
Single-Leg Pelvic Tilt
To start a single-leg pelvic tilt, we’ll first have you lie down on one of our comfortable and patented tables with your non-exercising knee bent. The stretch practitioner will be bending your exercising knee and lifting it toward the chest, aiming for the armpit. After we hold that position for two seconds, we’ll gently bring your leg back down to the starting position.
With both legs stretched out in front of you, we will flex your foot, aiming it back toward your ankle from the heel. After holding it in place for two seconds, we will return it back to its starting position before starting again.
Straight Leg Hamstring
A straight leg hamstring stretch is really simple. Once you are in a fully reclined position on our equipment, we will take the leg being stretched and lift it straight up as if we were aiming for a 90-degree angle. The bottom of your foot should be roughly pointing toward the ceiling. Many people will be unable to reach 90 degrees at first, but the more often this is completed, you’ll be amazed at what your body can accomplish.
Once the leg is lifted and stretching the hamstring at your first point of resistance, we will hold it for two seconds before gently bringing it back down and repeating the process.
For our hip adductor assisted stretch, we will have you lie down on your back with your legs extended straight in front of you. Your leg will be rotated inward and we’ll bring it out, away from your body. After two seconds, we’ll bring it back, then repeat the process.
Want to Know More About Active Isolated Stretching?
At Stretch Zone, stretching is our passion and we want to help you achieve your body’s maximum potential while preventing injuries in the process. With our proprietary methodology, we can have you on the way to a healthier and happier life. If you have any questions or concerns about active isolated stretching, the experts at Stretch Zone are here to help!
Also, be sure to ask us about our assisted stretching sessions. First-time visitors can book an appointment for a free 30-minute stretch!