Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

“Active Isolated Stretching is a vital component of injury prevention, rehabilitation, sports training and performance, longevity enhancement and in general a healthier lifestyle.”
– Aaron Mattes (Founder of AIS)

What is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)?

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a system developed in the United States over the past 40 years by Kinesiologist Aaron Mattes. AIS is a type of flexibility and strength training that uses focused, assisted exercises, and short duration stretches. Muscles are specifically targeted and actively stretched through their range of motion in a repeated pattern with an “assist” (or slight optimization) at the end of each stretch. AIS focuses on a single or specific group of muscles instead of a generalized stretch. AIS helps to decrease pain, improve joint flexibility and balance, expand range of motion, increase muscle strength, and restore physical function. AIS can assist in injury prevention, improve performance or aid with recovery after workout. AIS centers on physiological principles of specific muscle lengthening, increased circulation and oxygen to the tissues, and lengthening of the superficial and deep fascia.

Active Isolated Stretching requires 100% participation from the client. Activation of the agonist (contracting) muscle triggers automatic relaxation of the antagonist (lengthening) muscle facilitating effective stretching. Muscle re-education only occurs when the muscle is stimulated to contract. There is no passive movement in AIS, it is always active.

Breathing is important during AIS, with the client coordinating their breathing with the stretch to optimize results. Deep breathing helps to increase the flow of oxygen to the muscles, decrease muscle fatigue, and encourage the release of muscle tension and fascial restrictions.

Performing an Active Isolated Stretch of no greater than 2 seconds allows the target muscle to optimally lengthen without triggering a protective stretch reflex and avoids any associated micro-trauma.

Benefits of AIS:

  • Increase Flexibility & Health of Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments
  • Improve Posture
  • Prevention of Injury
  • Relieve Neck and Back Pain
  • Reduce Muscle Spasm
  • Enhance Performance
  • Improve Biomechanics
  • Promote Blood Flow and eliminates waste products in tissues
  • Relieve Stress; General Health Enhancement.
  • Increased Flexibility, Strength and overall health of joints and soft tissues.

Injury Prevention

As muscles become stronger and more flexible, they also become less vulnerable to injury. AIS stretches prevent adhesive scar tissue from forming and break down adhesions that have already formed.

AIS works well for clients with serious neuromuscular conditions who don’t respond to other forms of treatment. Some examples of degenerative conditions: Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and polio. AIS is also an outstanding modality for improving posture, eliminating abnormal curvatures such as scoliosis and Kyphosis as well as restoring proper body alignment, helping to eliminate physical pain caused by repetitive stress and chronic pain due to athletic injuries or injuries in general. AIS can affect positive change in such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, neck and back pain and well as shoulder and rotator cuff conditions.