Neuromuscularskeletal Rehabilitation with AIS
Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method, is being practiced worldwide. AIS is healing not only for fascia, muscles, and joint range of motion, but for neurological diseases as well. Unlike many other treatments, this scientific method involves both the brain and muscles, increasing the quickness and effectiveness of the results. Due to its neuromuscular re-programming component, AIS can take away symptoms that even to the medical community seem impossible. Therapists using AIS have seen reverses in serious diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
According to Dr. Haggquist, optimizing performance and full recovery has to follow five basic principles:
1. Address pain or discomfort
2. Restore range of motion at the joint
3. Re-establish the normal neuromuscular pathways reconnecting the brain to the muscle
4. Strength and conditioning
5. Return to function
AIS fulfills all the first four principles simultaneously and makes the fifth, return to function, possible.
Other forms of rehabilitation and stretching such as Active Release Technique (ART) and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) can facilitate pain relief, but do not satisfy all NMSk principles. ART, a system involving trigger points, works to relieve muscle tension, but does not address neuromuscular reprogramming. PNF stretching, based on isometrics, tires out the muscle fibers so they are forced to relax, relying on muscle fatigue for lengthening. The range of motion provided by PNF is increased, however, has a short-term duration and can result in damage of the tissues.
Active Isolated Stretching is able to generate lengthening with elasticity, to more effectively prevent injury, increase range of motion in the joints, and provide optimal function, as well as addressing neuromuscular reprogramming.
Why it lasts
AIS requires that you be active during the stretch. The Sherrington’s Law of Reciprocal Inhibition states that when the muscle on one side of a joint is contracted, the muscle on the opposite side sends a neurological signal to relax or release. Traditional stretches such as bending down and touching your toes, or lifting a straight leg up on a bench, are eccentric contractions. In other words, the same muscle that is being stretched has to contract in order to stabilize the body. A muscle in a state of contraction cannot relax.
Actively engaging the muscles trains them to retain their achieved range of motion. The proprioceptors, or “muscle memory cells,” store the information that occurs during each progression of the movement in a series.
In practices such as massage and static stretching, the movements are passive. They do not require muscle engagement, as a result what was gained can be quickly lost.
When to use it
AIS can be a sport specific warm up and/or cool down. With other forms of stretching, it is necessary to warm up the tissues prior to the stretch itself. Since AIS requires active engagement of the muscle, the tissues are already being warmed with every movement. Each specific repetition flushes the muscles, tendons and fascia with warm oxygen-rich blood, a proper warm up before any activity. By warming up the tissues throughout their active length before physical activity, AIS reduces the risk of muscle strain or tear. After exercising, AIS reduces muscle soreness through drainage of lymph, flushing out lactic acid.
AIS should be used immediately after a soft tissue injury. Contrary to the belief that a soft tissue injury should be immobilized, the sooner the muscle fibers are aligned the quicker the recovery will be. It is best to treat the injury immediately, before the scar tissue forms and inflammation takes away the joint’s range of motion.
From the many runners we have worked with, we have seen increased stride length, decreased running times, fuller use of the foot, more elasticity, and greater range of motion. AIS allows athletes to optimize their potential and specify their training while using simple stretches. Runner, John Windle, said “After only three sessions with Diane Waye my stride lengthened so my running speed increased by over a minute a mile and I felt less tired and sore afterwards, even after a 10.7 mile race over hills at altitude in Tahoe.”
AIS can be performed in either a clinic or home setting. It can be practiced with or without the help of a therapist. It is practical. It is based on sound scientific principles. It can be learned from an AIS therapist, or the Mattes book. Even daily 10 minutes sessions can make a difference, preventing injury, allowing for performance enhancement, as well as general health and flexibility. As DaVinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This simple technique will change the way your body responds.