Over the past few decades many experts have advocated that stretching 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 tissue creating localized ischemia and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendinous, lymphatic, as well as neural tissues, similar to the effects and consequences of trauma and overuse syndromes.
The AIS Technique
Performing an Active Isolated Stretch of no longer than two seconds allows the target muscles to optimally lengthen without triggering the protective stretch reflex and subsequent reciprocal antagonistic muscle contraction as the isolated muscle achieves a state of relaxation. These stretches provide maximum benefit and can be accomplished without opposing tension or resulting trauma.
Aaron Mattes' myofascial release technique, which also incorporates Active Isolated Stretching, uses active movement and reciprocal inhibition to achieve optimal flexibility. Using a 2.0 second stretch has proven to be the key in avoiding reflexive contraction of the antagonistic muscle. Without activating muscle group contraction, restoration of full range of motion and flexibility can be successfully achieved.