Active Isolated Stretching

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Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a stretching technique that was created and developed by Aaron Mattes*, MS, RKT, LMT who continues to develop AIS in his clinical practice. Aaron Mattes was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame, and his work is described in chapter 7 of Dr. James Oschman's book Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis as one of the major 14 modalities of note developed in the 20th century. AIS is also prominently featured in other published works such as Where it Hurts and Why (Ortloff & Sehgal), medical articles [1][2][3]*, and the newsletter series by Dr. Sherry Rogers.

Currently, AIS is taught in Massage, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Curriculums nationally and internationally as a modality for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Active Isolated Stretching is founded on the principal of only assisting each stretch for only one and a half to two seconds. The movement is initiated by the muscles on the opposite side utilizing Sherrington's Law of Reciprocal Innervation[4] and Inhibition, [5] [6] which allows the corresponding opposite muscles to relax and receive the stretching. (As one contracts, the muscle performing the opposite action must in fact relax.) Each stretch is done in a slow and controlled fashion - there is no bouncing at the end of the movement. There are over 400 different stretches designed by Aaron Mattes that make up Active Isolated Stretching. The stretching program encompasses everything from the neck, shoulder, and arms all the way to the individual digits of the toes and fingers. ↵

These are the Principles established by Aaron Mattes, the principles of The Mattes Method Active of Isolated Stretching (AIS):

Be gentle. Let the tissues soften and lengthen slowly with each repetition. Breathe in as you get ready to do the active movement to provide oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Breathe out during the stretch to eliminate CO2 and Lactic Acid. Breathe in again at the end of the stretch as you return to the resting position to provide O2 and nutrients to the tissues. There should not be pain during AIS. We don’t want to create ‘negative tissue memory’. You should feel the contractions of the active muscle. AIS works with (not against) human neurology.[7]

      You will feel a mild stretch sensation but it shouldn’t be so strong that you would describe it as pain.

- The more you actively engage the agonist (the moving muscle), the more comfortable and effective the stretch will be. (ACTIVE)

- As much as possible, be aware of which muscles you should be contracting and which muscles you are stretching. (ISOLATED)

- Using the rope, strap, or hand (while maintaining the active involvement) assist with ease into more of a stretch by 1-2 degrees only, and hold for 2 seconds only counting ‘thousand one thousand two’. (STRETCHING)

Range of Movement (ROM) will not improve unless the existing limit is gently exceeded. Then using your own muscles again, return the limb slowly and with control to the starting position. Do sets of 10 repetitions unless you experience fatigue. If so, stop to rest and perform shorter duration sets.

Stretching is a daily requirement as muscles shorten, stiffen, or become tense from work, training, posture, gravity or stress.[8] Stay in tune with your own body. The development of flexibility takes time. Set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t compare your body with others. Strive for a positive mindset. Believing it is possible, knowing specifically how and what to do as you work for consistency of effort and exactness of detail will lead to success.

  • AIS Aaron L. Mattes received his Master of Science Degree (Kinesiology and Exercise Science) from the University of Illinois. Aaron Mattes is a registered Kinesiotherapist (#449) and Licensed Massage Therapist (#3864). He is also an active member of the following organizations: American Kinesiotherapy Association, National Rehabilitation Administration Association, Florida State Massage Therapy Association and the American Massage Therapy Association. Active Isolated Stretching has been developed through thousands of hours of teaching, research and clinical application. Aaron was a professor at the University of Illinois and also at the University of Toledo. He continues his teaching and clinical practice in Florida.

Active Isolated Stretching is a stretching technique that was created and developed by Aaron Mattes, MS, RKT, LMT. Aaron L. Mattes received his Master of Science Degree (Kinesiology and Exercise Science) from the University of Illinois. Aaron Mattes is a registered Kinesiotherapist (#449) and Licensed Massage Therapist (#3864). He is also an active member of the following organizations: American Kinesiotherapy Association, National Rehabilitation Administration Association, Florida State Massage Therapy Association and the American Massage Therapy Association. Active Isolated Stretching has been developed through thousands of hours of teaching, research and clinical application. Aaron was a professor at the University of Illinois and also at the University of Toledo. Currently AIS is taught in Massage, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Curriculums internationally as a modality for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Active Isolated Stretching is founded on the principal of only holding the exercises for one and a half to two seconds to prevent a reversal contracture of the stretch. The movement is initiated by the muscles on the opposite side contracting and moving the body part allowing the corresponding opposite muscles to relax and receive the stretching. This is an agonist/antagonist relationship. As one contracts the opposite side must in fact relax. Each stretching is done in a slow and controlled fashion not allowing bouncing at the end of the movement. There are over 400 different stretches designed by Aaron Mattes that make up Active Isolated Stretching. The stretching encompasses everything from stretching of the neck, shoulder and arms all the way to the individual digits of the toes and fingers. These are the Principles set up by Aaron Mattes.

Principles of Mattes Method Active Isolated Stretching

• Be gentle. Let the tissues soften and lengthen slowly with each repetition. • Breathe in as you get ready to do the active movement to provide oxygen and nutrients to the tissues • Breathe out during the stretch to eliminate CO2 and Lactic Acid • Breathe in again at the end of the stretch as you return to the resting position to provide O2 and nutrients to the tissues. • There should not be pain during AIS. We don’t want to create ‘negative tissue memory’. You should feel the contractions of the active muscle.

       You will feel the stretch sensation but it shouldn’t be so strong that you would describe it as pain. Some describe it as a feeling of light irritation.

• The more you actively engage the moving muscle, the more comfortable and effective the stretch will be. (ACTIVE) • As much as possible, be aware of which muscles you should be contracting and which muscles you are stretching. (ISOLATED) • Actively engage the indicated muscles to take the area into a stretch until you feel an initial resistance to further movement on your own. • Using the rope or strap (while maintaining the active involvement) assist with ease into more of a stretch by 1-2 degrees only, and hold for 2 seconds only counting ‘thousand one thousand two’. (STRETCHING) • Range of Movement (ROM) will not improve unless the existing limit is gently exceeded. Then using your own muscles again return the limb slowly and with control to the starting position. • Do sets of 10 repetitions unless you experience fatigue. If so, stop to rest and perform shorter duration. • Stretching is a daily requirement as muscles shorten, stiffen, or become tense from work, training, posture, gravity or stress. • Stay in tune with your own body. The development of flexibility takes time.Set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t compare your body with others. • Strive for a positive mindset. Believing it is possible, knowing specifically how and what to do as you work for consistency of effort and exactness of detail will lead to success.