What is Active Isolated Stretching?

More than just the latest fitness craze, Active Isolated Stretching was developed over 40 years ago by Aaron L. Mattes. It’s practiced as a unique modality by many massage therapists, and it has unique benefits for athletes.

AIS is a form of sports massage that is known for increased flexibility, and less pain or soreness related to athletic performance. It can actually lengthen your muscle fibers providing greater flexibility and control.

Crossfitters, body builders, and pro athletes alike turn to AIS for reduced recovery times and lower injury risks. If you’re interested in learning these techniques, it’s best to find a local massage therapist or Kinesiotherapist that’s been trained by Aaron himself. They can help you perfect the techniques of AIS for better recovery and performance.

How does AIS Work?

Well, there’s a big hint about this in the name…Active Isolated Stretching is all about focusing on a particular muscle during your stretching. Here’s a few guiding principles for AIS:

  • Isolate the muscle
  • Repeat the stretch 8-10 times
  • DON’T hold the stretch more than two seconds
  • Breathing: Exhale on stretch and inhale on release

These all seem contrary to popular notions on stretching, but there’s plenty of reasoning behind this unorthodox approach. Repeating the single stretch multiple times increases blood flow to the area making this technique more effective. And the short duration is meant to prevent the “stretching reflex” which can cause you to hyperextend and cause damage during a longer stretch.

Where can I learn More about Active Isolated Stretching?

Believe it or not, the original book is available on Google books if you want to get a comprehensive overview. There’s also a whole section on AIS over at Stretching USA you can check out. If you’re

For hands-on training and expert guidance, seek out a certified AIS expert like Tom Williams at Birmingham Massage Couple. Experts trained directly by Aaron can show you the proper technique and form so that you prevent injury and improve muscle performance.


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