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There are many different ways of stretching. Some forms are not very effective; other forms are downright dangerous.
But there is one form of stretching that is very safe and very effective. This form is called Active Isolated Stretching (AIS).
How it Works; why it’s safe: Every voluntary (skeletal) muscle we have in our body is paired with its opposing muscle: biceps versus triceps; Chest versus Back; Neck flexors versus Neck extensors, etc. By engaging a muscle to get its opposing muscle into position to be stretched, then holding that stretch for 2 seconds, there is no stretch reflex. Our muscles are hard wired with a stretch reflex, in case we go beyond our capabilities in a given stretch. This can lead to injury.
But by engaging the opposing muscles before stretching, and then holding the stretch for about 2 seconds, no stretch reflex occurs.
Why it’s effective: By using straps and or positioning our bodies in certain ways, we can target specific muscles we want stretched. By doing several repetitions of each movement, the muscle becomes more flexible with each repetition.
So whether you want to improve flexibility for martial arts, yoga, gymnastics, or just have greater range of motion, active isolated stretching is the ideal method to adopt.