Active Isolated Stretching

Active isolated stretching refers to a technique based on a couple of underlying neuromuscular principles and is beneficial with increasing flexibility and re-educating the muscles.

An American Kinesiologist Aaron Mattes developed Active Isolated Stretching in the 1970’s. The first principle of the technique involves “reciprocal inhibition” whereby the nervous system will inhibit the opposite muscle to the one being contracted. For example if the biceps are contracted the triceps will be inhibited. So in active isolated stretching the person will contract the opposing muscle to the one targeted for stretching. In this way the targeted muscle will relax.

The second principle is based on the stretch reflex. If a muscle is stretched for long enough, it will set off an automatic protection mechanism to guard against overstretch and injury. In active isolated stretch, the stretch is only held for a couple of seconds so that the protective reflex will not initiate. The muscle is elongated a little further with each repetition so that the person exceeds what they would normally do. Over the course of time the range of motion increases. Movements are of very short duration, gentle, focused, repeated and all done with productive relaxed breathing throughout a session. This allows for oxygen flow to alleviate muscle tension and fatigue.

Active isolated stretching can benefit everyone.  It relieves stress, enhances balance, promotes flexibility, enhances good posture, relieves muscle spasms and enhances overall health. As one client commented “This is the best stretching program that I have attended. It focuses so well on the entire body".


Specific Techniques


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