Active Stretching - Mercy Medical Center

Active Stretching

Posted on: February 6, 2012

I came across an old article profiling Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) popularized by Phil Wharton. This concept basically follows four principles:

1. Isolate and stretch one muscle at a time to improve flexibility.

2. Muscles work in pairs (agonist/antagonists), while one muscle is contracting the opposite should be relaxing. Good example is quads and hamstrings: You should set your quads as you stretch your hamstrings.

3. If you over-stretch, you'll cause the muscle to protect itself by recoiling. This happens as quickly as three seconds into a stretch, therefore all AIS stretches are held for less than two seconds.

4. Breathing is a factor in proper stretching. Exhale during stretch, and inhale on the release.

He uses ropes to stretch certain body parts and it is very dynamic. It has been used very successfully with many Olympians past and present. You should check out the website to see the visual procedures. I know I can't sometimes conceptualize without pictures. The website is

I think you'll find this another tool in your toolkit to help you prepare and recover for your workouts and races.  

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