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Stretching technique provides a different twist on flexibility

People who avoid stretching because of boredom may prefer a new twist—Active Isolated Stretching (AIS). Jarrod Fritz, a licensed massage therapist, uses this technique with clients. He said the human body is a complex system that needs movement to function properly. Restrictions to normal motion can negatively affect the body and lead to dysfunction.  Stretching is preventative maintenance because it increases flexibility and decreases stiffness, which reduces injury and restores normal functioning. It is also used for rehabilitation purposes.
“When looking at the benefits of enhanced flexibility, we see things like improved posture, better tissue nutrition, reduced chance of injury, and improved performance.” 
Aaron Mattes, its creator, will be conducting a clinic May 20 -23 at the MUSC Wellness Center. The session, which will provide continuing education credit, will teach participants how to use AIS  to get the optimum length in each muscle.
It uses the following three principles:
  • Contract the opposite muscle to the one being stretched. Muscles are set up in opposing pairs. When one side contracts, the other relaxes. An example would be to contract the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh for a better stretch on the hamstrings on the back of the thigh. This places the target muscle you are stretching at its most relaxed state allowing for a better stretch. 
  • The stretch is held only about two seconds. This allows the muscle to lengthen before the stretch reflex, a defensive mechanism, is engaged.
  • Breathe through the stretch. This will ensure the presence of oxygen and prevent fatigue and the buildup of lactic acid.
If done properly, the active nature and short duration of AIS cuts down on time and boredom, and the simple moves ensure maximum efficiency. The ability to control the intensity eliminates pain.
For information on AIS or to set up a session,  contact the Center for Therapeutic Massage at 852-9939. To learn more about AIS and Mattes, visit

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.