Are you ready to feel younger and more flexible?
Once in a while a simple idea resurfaces that can change everything for you and your running. For many runners AIS (Active Isolated Stretching) has provided pain and injury relief that traditional methods have not.
Active Isolated Stretching is defined by Stretching USA as “a type of Athletic Stretching Technique that provides effective, dynamic, facilitated stretching of major muscle groups, but more importantly, AIS provides functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes.” What this means to you as a runner is that AIS is a type of stretch you should be doing instead of the “static” stretching your P.E. teacher probably taught you in school.
Phil Wharton is a runner, author and “Musculoskeletal Therapist” at the Wharton Health Center in New York. Phil has practiced what he calls the “healing arts” for 26 years and has worked with people ranging from weekend warriors and car accident victims to Olympic athletes looking to feel better and repair and prevent injury using AIS. Phil battled scoliosis and a number of chronic running injuries while younger and found great relief from AIS and has since worked to bring these techniques to others to live with less pain and better health.
Why you should start implementing AIS
Wharton says that Americans are under an ever increasing amount of stress (are you nodding your head?) and current lifestyles like sitting at a computer or on a couch tighten certain muscles and tendons while weakening others. This leads to poor running form, poor posture which in turn leads to foot, hip, knee, calf, neck and shoulder pain, tightness and injuries. Many AIS routines are built specifically to undo and reverse these deficiencies in both your upper body (Sample routines are provided in the videos below.)
How you should start implementing AIS
Wharton has his clients implement AIS by including flexibility exercises before and after every run however you will still get benefits by using them as often as possible. These moves essentially use an antagonist muscle stretching to lengthen and relax its opposite muscle. For example, you would use your quadricep muscle (and gentle pulling with a rope) to stretch your quadricep. You would move your hamstring through its entire range of motion and then pausing all the way at the furthest point of the stretch. Wharton also says that breathing throughout the stretch helps bring fresh blood to the area and restore the muscles and tendons to a more recovered and fresher state. For a narrated and detailed video of what AIS looks like and more of the benefits please check the video below.
Wharton recently teamed up with Coach Jay Johnson to make a series of DVD’s on strength training and stretches for runners that can be found here. The DVD’s have specific movements targeting different body parts that are commonly troublesome.
Bonus advice for runners from a long time veteran
In addition to the benefits of AIS Wharton is adamant that his runners not overlook the importance of post run recovery. You really need to make sure that you are getting rehydrated and some basic carbohydrates in within 15 minutes of your run, especially your long runs and workouts. Wharton’s personal post-run recovery drink is a smoothie made up of fruits and vegetables with a protein powder included.
Where can you learn more?
What should you do now?
You should try some of these stretches TODAY. These do not need to be done immediately after a run. You can implement these stretches in the evening while watching a movie or your favorite television show.
Please leave a comment below on your experiences using AIS. Don’t forget to also sign up for your free copy of “7 Running Tips You Can Use Today From Top Experts” (out on July 4) and our free newsletter full of tips on motivation, diet, shoes and overcoming injury in the sign-up box below.