What is stretch therapy?
Stretch Therapy is the name we give to the special work being done by Aaron L. Mattes. Mattes developed this therapeutic assistance technique due to the continuous demand on specific mobilization of polio patients in the late 50’s and 60’s. Earlier than that patients where immobilized, while the contrary proved to be the better option, mobilize.
Although polio is not such a life threatening disease in our modern day society anymore, the principles of AIS has stood the test of time, and is now an internationally renowned therapeutic technique.
There’s numerous advantages to incorporate the work of a stretch specialist (stretching therapist) in your current medical preventative and population assessment programs as well as incorporating stretch therapy into orthopedic surgery prevention programs.
In the USA, Medicare spending for inpatient back surgery more than doubled over the decade. Spending for lumbar fusion increased more than 500%, from 75 million dollars to 482 million dollars. In 1992, lumbar fusion represented 14% of total spending for back surgery; by 2003; lumbar fusion accounted for 47% of spending.
Dr. Rosomoff M.D. was discussing “failed back surgery syndrome” of which there is a documented 50,000 cases, every year. While lecturing at the American Academy of Pain Management symposium, it was his opinion that surgery should only be performed in 1 in every 500 low back cases. He felt that that would eliminate 99% of all surgical cases.
In the South African based stretch therapy practices the majority of patients benefiting the most from this treatment are those suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain. Including muscular atrophy, joint pathology, spinal degenerative conditions, pre surgical rehabilitation & mobilization, sport injury and professional sports performance.
Getting assistance during stretching is very crucial in achieving maximal results and minimal injuries. The therapist will exactly know where to take you and where to stop, working each muscle individually until a complete uniform balance is achieved. Stretching has been scientifically proven to have an ‘analgesic effect’ making patients feel better immediately while still having the full advantage of a very precise and isolated rehabilitation session.
Stretch Therapy spans the entire technique called ‘active isolated stretching’ and ‘active isolated strengthening’. This technique is very useful right from rehabilitation to performance enhancement. Stretch therapy comprises the following main elements:
We use hundreds of different isolated techniques to improve the Range of Movement (ROM) of the body; nerves, fascia and muscles. Stretching all these structures individually we can use them as ‘gateways’ to change the functional patterns of the brain.
Inactive muscles are made active; knees, shoulders, and elbows are stabilized; posture and alignment are made more efficient.
The capacity of the whole body to exert force is the emphasis here; most of our techniques are body-weight only, and all involve the working one muscle as precisely and accurately as possible.
The forgotten part of any health optimization program. Here, ‘relaxation’ is used in two ways: the first as a shorthand for techniques that enhance speed (any force-producing agonist needs its antagonist to relax equally quickly so that a limb, or a whole body, can move faster), and the second sense, the fundamental part of rejuvenation and regeneration practices.
Together, the Stretch Therapy elements enable anyone to improve flexibility, and to perform ordinary and extraordinary tasks with greater ease and better performance, and for longer in life.
Stretch Therapy is the safest, most efficient method for anyone to achieve grace and ease in daily life, whether as an office worker, or an athlete. Stretch Therapy is used by pregnant women, teenagers, sports people, coaches, employers, and men and women of all ages.
What is active isolated stretching?
Over the past two decades, many experts have advocated prolonged stretching up to 60 seconds. A prolonged stretch up to 60 seconds means that a person would move into a stretching position and keep it there for a longer period. For many years this was used as the gold standard for all individuals and athletes. However, after 30 years of research by Aaron Mattes, it was found that a stretch greater than 5 seconds actually decreases the blood flow within the tissue thus creating localized ischemia and lactic acid build up.
This also increases irritation and change of injury of local muscular, tendonous, lymphatic as well as neural tissues, similar to the effects and consequences of trauma, overuse syndromes, and metabolic disease states. This phenomenon indicates that there has to be a better technique for proper stretching. And indeed it was found, now called Active Isolated Stretching.
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a stretching method developed by Aaron L. Mattes. AIS utilizes precise movements to isolate a specific area to be stretched. Once in the proper position, the stretch is held for 1.5 to 2 seconds, released, and then repeated 8-10 times in a set. AIS has been used by hundreds of thousands of professional and amateur athletes and chronic patients to increase flexibility and performance and reduce pain while reducing the risk of any further injuries. It is also effective in reducing pain in the human body caused by incorrect posture, degeneration, injury, and inactivity.
Active Isolated Stretching: How it Works
There are two primary principles that provide the basis for how AIS works. The first is called reciprocal inhibition, which means that if you want to lift your arm, your nervous system has to shut off the muscles that bring your arm down. This means that AIS involves your nervous system in the stretch, making it easier for the muscles to elongate. The second principle is to hold the stretch for 1.5 to 2 seconds, and no longer. Research shows that holding a stretch for longer than 2.5 to 3 seconds will cause your body to engage a protective reflex. This stretch reflex will cause a muscle contraction in the muscle you are trying to stretch. It is therefore important not to hold any stretch to long, not even 3 seconds.
By not “tripping” the stretch reflex, you are able to get a gentle stretch, without the body fighting itself. The stretch is repeated 8 to 10 times in a set. The repeated “pumping” action of the muscle allows for increased circulation to the area. Because the stretches target highly specific areas of the body, AIS provides an efficient and effective stretch.
These specific movements also help relieve symptoms of stress. Stress touches all of our lives. Gentle stretching movements can invigorate the circulatory, respiratory and neuromuscular systems, which help alleviate many of the symptoms of stress.
Benefits of Active Isolated Stretching:
Helps to relieve muscle soreness
Reduces muscle spasm
Helps to address and reduce chronic pain
Reduces the risk of muscle strain and tearing
Helps recovery from injury
Helps to increase athletic performance
Helps to relieve stress
Improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells
Helps stimulate lymph circulation and elimination of cellular waste
Helps to maintain good posture
Helps to regain and maintain the full range of motion of a joint
Promotes balance in the body
Promotes healthy growth in children and youth
Prevent postural problems in pre-adolescent growth spurts
Author: Hans De Wit