What is Stretch Therapy?
Stretch Therapy is the name we give to the special work being developed by Aaron L.Mattes over the last 50 years. 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 a number of techniques to improve the Range of Movement (ROM) of the body; nerves, fascia and muscles are used as ‘gateways’ to change the “movement map in 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 ‘core’.
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, and is suitable for most people.
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:
- Improves flexibility
- 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