Active Isolated Stretching

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a scientifically designed flexibility system based on fundamental anatomical movements of joints, ligaments and muscles.  AIS has been expanded by decades of clinical trial and observation to become the system we know today.

By taking advantage of physiological laws AIS creates a whole body system that works with the body, not against it. AIS gently stretches a specific muscle, holds the stretch for 2 seconds and then releases. This pumping action circulates purifying oxygen into the muscle tissue and flushes out damaging toxins such as lactic acid.

Active isolated stretching is practiced in many areas of healthcare and sports, by a multitude of professionals including Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Personal Trainers and Athletes.

Pioneered by Aaron L. Mattes, Active Isolated Stretching can be utilized by every person interested in improving their health.  Trained practitioners use AIS to advance the recovery of their clients quickly and efficiently.  AIS will improve the body’s potential to heal and to perform at a higher level in every aspect, (everyday tasks to recreational adventures) of life.

Active Isolated Stretching helps the body to become more efficient by increasing joint range of motion and providing muscular re-education through foundational training of the muscles.  By utilizing AIS, individuals become more balanced, less susceptible to injury and promote their overall well-being.

How AIS Works

There are two primary principles that provide the basis for how AIS works.  The first is Sherrington’s law of reciprocal inhibition.  Reciprocal inhibition is the neurological process of inhibiting the muscle that needs to relax in order to move a joint.  In other words, if you want to lift your arm, your nervous system has to shut off the muscles that bring your arm down while turning on the ones that lift it up.  Working with your nervous system; you are able to re-educate your muscles to function properly through a full range of motion.

The second principle is to respect the stretch reflex of the spindle cell.  The stretch reflex is the triggering of a muscular contraction when the spindle cells sense an injurious stretch.  The stretch reflex is set off by three different stimuli.  The first is when the muscle is stretched beyond its tensile ability.  The second is when a muscle is stretched too quickly.  The third is when a stretch is held for too long.  The time it takes for the spindle cells to trigger the stretch reflex in a controlled movement is about 2 seconds.  Observing these three triggers will allow for a safe and effective stretch every time.  This means never stretching a muscle too far.  To help assure this, every assist must be done gently.  Keep all of your movements slow and controlled to be certain the muscle does not move too quickly.  Remember, holding a stretch for longer than 2 seconds causes your spindle cells to fire.

About Aaron L. Mattes, Pioneer of Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

Aaron Mattes received his Master of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has directed rehabilitation clinics at the University of Illinois and at the University of Toledo. Aaron Mattes lectures internationally to people in the health care and sports profession, and is the author of Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method. He currently directs a sports medicine and rehabilitation clinic in Sarasota Florida.

Benefits of Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps to relieve stress
  • Reduces muscle spasm
  • Helps to recover from injury
  • Promotes balance in the body
  • Helps to address chronic pain
  • Helps to maintain good posture
  • Helps to relieve muscle soreness
  • Helps to increase athletic performance
  • Reduces the risk of muscle strain and tearing
  • Improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells
  • Helps to regain and maintain the full range of motion of a joint
  • Helps stimulate lymph circulation and elimination of cellular waste

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