Kim Ortloff

Stretching Your Life

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StretchActive Isolated Stretching
The Mattes Method

What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability to move the joints through their full range of motion.

What is Active Isolated Stretching? Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) involves:

  1. Identifying muscles to be stretched
  2. Isolating these muscles by using localized movements
  3. Intensifying the active muscle (agonists) so the opposing muscle (antagonists) relaxes and lengthens.
Antagonist muscles relax to allow the agonist to effect movement. The Mattes Method optimizes a complete myofascial stretch without activating the myotatic or stretch reflex, otherwise known as muscle contraction. This method of stretching incorporates a gradual stretch of two second intervals over a session of 8-10 reps. This procedure promotes full range of motion and flexibility without causing the antagonist muscles to contract.

StretchWhat are the benefits of Active Isolated Stretching?

  1. Prepares the body for movement or athletic activity by increasing the circulation to muscles, raising the body temperature and increasing neuromuscular assimilation
  2. Increases blood flow to the stretched muscles and surrounding areas
  3. Promotes an increased flow of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues (muscles)
  4. Increases flexibility and mobility which allows for greater physical activity with decreased muscle soreness
  5. Aids in the prevention of injury
  6. Facilitates the removal of lactic acid
  7. Reduces tightness in muscles suffering from postural problems. (i.e. scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, aging)
  8. Helps improve athletic performance. When optimal flexibility has been achieved the body requires less energy expenditure
  9. Improves the flow of lymphatic fluid which assists in the removal of waste products of the body.
StretchIt is vitally important to incorporate a few principles of AIS when establishing a program for yourself.
  • Ensure proper breathing. Always exhale on the stretch phase and inhale as the body returns to the starting position of stretch
  • Stay tuned to your own body. Don't make stretching a competitive sport. In other words, don't try to be like your friend, spouse or neighbor. Every body will move differently.
  • Do not overstretch! Allow your body to take your muscles to their natural stopping point (activation of the stretch reflex). Proceed gently beyond to the point of light irritation for 1 ½-2 seconds.
AIS can be effective in alleviating pain associated with:
  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  2. Low back pain
  3. Neck and shoulder pain
  4. Foot and heel pain
  5. Chronic and acute muscle injury including sports injury
  6. Postural problems
Other types of stretching:Stretch

Ballistic stretching: this type of stretching uses momentum (slight bouncing) to create a muscle stretch. However, a bounce activates the stretch reflex thus fighting against the stretch. Muscle injury (pulls or micro tears) are very possible. Little to none improvement in flexibility

Static stretching: this can also be confused with passive stretching. A static stretch is one that is held in a particular position for a period of time. A passive stretch is one that engages some manual assistance in the movement while the muscles are relaxed. Little improvement in flexibility risking the possibility of injuring muscle tissue if too aggressive.

PNF (prioceptive neuromuscular facilitation): the "hold-relax" stretch employs passive stretching with isometric stretching. With assistance, the muscle being stretched is contracted for 5-15 seconds, the muscle is then relaxed 2 seconds then progressed with a passive stretch. Secondly, the "hold-contract" shares the same concept as above but employs two types of contraction: first of the agonist, then, of the antagonist.

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            © 2007 Kim Ortloff. All rights reserved.