Olympians have been employing Active-Isolated Stretching (AI) now for about 10 years, but it has only recently been brought to the public’s attention.
I have used this technique on my clients for quite a while now with great success, while adding renewed life and spring to tired out muscles. AI stretching prevents injury, as conventional stretching can cause real harm such as muscle pulls and tears.
AI stretching does what stretching is supposed to do; it transports oxygen to sore muscles and quickly removes toxins so recovery is faster. It also works as a deep massage technique because it activates muscle fibres during the actual stretch.
Before stretching, dress in loose clothing and try and acquire a five-foot length of rope and tie a loop in the end. The purpose of this is to loop the end of rope around the exercising appendage to squeeze the last couple of inches of stretch from the exercise.
Find a comfortable place to stretch either on your bed, a carpeted floor or on a mat.
Isolate the muscle or group you want to stretch then contract the muscle opposite. This causes the isolated muscle or group to relax straight away and when it does it is ready to stretch.
Gently and quickly stretch the isolated muscle until it can’t be stretched any further; now give yourself a gentle pull with your hands or rope. Go as far as you can and then hold the stretch for no more than 2 seconds then release, do this for a total of 5 repetitions on the isolated muscle or group.
The reason for just a 2-second stretch is because when a muscle realizes that it is being forced into a stretch it contracts to protect itself from being overstretched.
If you can beat this contraction you’ll be well on the way to a greater Range of Motion.
Remember to hold for no more than 2 seconds, release, return to the normal position and repeat for the five repetitions. Try not to have any hesitations between stretches and make it as fluid as possible. Try to stretch every day if possible, remember to:
- Work one target muscle at a time.
- Contract the muscle that is opposite the targeted muscle, which will relax in preparation of its stretch.
- Stretch it gently and quickly.
- Release it before it realizes that it has been stretched and goes into its protective contraction.
- Below are two exercises that can be done straight away even while you are at work to stretch that tension and stress from of your body.
- Lie down on the floor with your buttocks against a wall and your legs straight up the wall. Slowly flex your toes towards your knees, hold for two seconds and repeat five times. This will loosen up your lower back and stretch your hamstrings and hips giving instant relief for tired backs.