Did you know that only 1 out of 3 Americans meets the recommended amount of weekly exercise? That is a lot of people sitting around instead of being active.
But congratulations, you are not part of that group! If you’re reading this, then you are likely a physically active person. But don’t get too excited yet.
Are you stretching regularly? Cue the chirping crickets. Sadly, even athletes don’t spend as much time stretching as they do running or lifting weights.
Stretching is a vital part of a routine, yet many people neglect it. There are actually different types of stretches and some are more beneficial than others. In this short guide, we’ll focus on the benefits of active isolated stretching.
Always Stretch Before Exercising, Right?
Imagine you’re about to run a mile on the track or you’re in the gym about to hit the weights. First, you decide to do some stretches so you bend over, touch your toes, and count to 30. You have to feel the burn, right?
If that is what you’re doing before intense exercise, you may actually be doing more harm than good.
This is called static stretching, and if you aren’t careful, it has the potential to cause injuries. It can stretch out a muscle, making it looser and weaker, which is definitely not what you want before running or lifting heavy weights. In fact, studies have shown that stretching just 4% past a tendon’s length can cause injury.
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) Is the Solution
What you should do instead is called Active Isolated Stretching, AIS for short. Active isolated stretching was created by kinesiologist Aaron Mattes more than 30 years ago. An active isolated stretch can improve your flexibility, reduce pain, and improve exercise performance without causing injury.
What is active isolated stretching?
It is actually a short process with three parts.
1. Isolate the Muscle to Stretch
If you didn’t already know, muscles often work in opposition. If you want to isolate a muscle, you need to do the opposite for the other muscle. For example, when you flex your hamstrings you stretch your quadriceps and vice versa. So you need to “flex” one muscle in order to stretch another.
2. Only Hold the Stretch for Two Seconds
Flex the opposing muscle to stretch the muscle you are isolating. But don’t hold it for a minute like static stretching! Instead, only hold the position for two seconds.
3. Perform 10 Repetitions
Simply repeat this process until you have done about 10 reps. Breathing is also important, so exhale during the stretching portion of each rep. This allows oxygen to pump through the body and increase circulation.
Here Are Some Examples Of Active Isolated Stretches
- Bent Leg Hamstring Stretch
- Straight Leg Hamstring Stretch
- Leg Pelvic Tilt Stretch
- Lateral Trunk Flexors
- Trunk Extensions
- Hip Adductor Stretch
- Quadriceps Stretch
Should You Try To Stretch Your Body By Yourself
Performing these types of stretches can be done by yourself. You can use a band or rope to assist, but you still need to know what you are doing, in order to prevent injury. There are other options available these days though. Stretch therapy studios are a growing trend in the USA and provide an affordable option for assisted stretching.
Active Isolated Stretching Trainers
It has been proven that active isolated stretching can make you more limber, flexible, and faster. It can even improve posture and aid with pain. But to get the best results, you still need to know how to contract and stretch each muscle. In order to achieve optimal flexibility, facilitated stretching of major muscle groups may be your best option.
Here at Stretch22, we specialize in stretching therapy. If you are an athlete that wants to get the most out of your training, then come visit us today to see how we can help!