Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method

Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method (AIS) was created by Aaron L. Mattes, a registered kinesiotherapist, licensed massage therapist, and certified rehabilitation administrator. Aaron developed this method of proper stretching as a result of his 35 years of work that included laboratory research and experimentation, as well as, his experiences in clinical treatment, sports medicine, and teaching. He has refined and added to his techniques over the years, and continues to update his work on a regular basis.

The AIS method of muscle lengthening and fascial release is a type of flexibility technique that provides effective, dynamic, facilitated stretching of the muscle tissues, but more importantly, provides functional restoration of the superficial and deep fascial planes.

Over the past few decades, many flexibility experts have advocated that a stretch should last up to 60 seconds. For years, this prolonged static stretching technique was the gold standard. However, prolonged static stretching actually decreases the blood flow within the tissues, creating localized ischemia and lactic acid build-up. This can potentially cause irritation or injury to local muscular, tendinous, lymphatic, or nerve tissues, something that would be similar to the consequences of trauma and over-use syndromes.

Unlike the prolonged static stretching technique, AIS is a dynamic stretching technique that involves the method of using precise active movements to carry out each stretch, and then holds the stretch for only two seconds. This method of stretching has been known to work with the body’s natural physiological make-up to improve circulation and enhance nerve function, while increasing the elasticity of the myofascial tissues, and maximizing joint range of motion. Performing the AIS method and holding a stretch for no more than two seconds, allows the targeted myofascial tissues to optimally lengthen without triggering the stretch reflex mechanism. This protective mechanism, when it is triggered, causes reciprocal antagonistic muscle contraction during the relaxation phase of the stretch; a dangerous process that more times than not, causes injury. Static stretching techniques are more likely to trigger the stretch reflex mechanism, whereas AIS techniques increase flexibility without creating that opposing tension that results in injury.

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