Lack of flexibility is now seen to be a major cause of general health
problems and sports injury and is being linked to everything from
stress, back pain, and even osteoarthritis. It also means that nagging
injuries, especially around your joints take longer to heal.
Latest studies show that up to 60 percent of the general population
with bad backs and knees have tight hamstrings and hips and the
main cause is a lack of flexibility.
Active-Isolated Stretching (AI)
Olympians have been employing Active-Isolated Stretching (AI)
now for about 10 years, but it has only recently been brought to
the public’s attention.
I have used this technique on my clients for quite a while now
with great success, while adding renewed life and spring to tired
out muscles. AI stretching prevents injury, as conventional stretching
can cause real harm such as muscle pulls and tears.
AI stretching does what stretching is supposed to do; it transports
oxygen to sore muscles and quickly removes toxins so recovery is
faster. It also works as a deep massage technique because it activates
muscle fibres during the actual stretch.
How to Stretch
Before stretching, dress in loose clothing and try and acquire
a five-foot length of rope and tie a loop in the end. The purpose
of this is to loop the end of rope around the exercising appendage
to squeeze the last couple of inches of stretch from the exercise.
Find a comfortable place to stretch either on your bed, a carpeted
floor or on a mat.
Isolate the muscle or group you want to stretch then contract the
muscle opposite. This causes the isolated muscle or group to relax
straight away and when it does it is ready to stretch.
Gently and quickly stretch the isolated muscle until it can’t
be stretched any further; now give yourself a gentle pull with your
hands or rope. Go as far as you can and then hold the stretch for
no more than 2 seconds then release, do this for a total of 5 repetitions
on the isolated muscle or group.
The reason for just a 2-second stretch is because when a muscle
realizes that it is being forced into a stretch it contracts to
protect itself from being overstretched.
If you can beat this contraction you’ll be well on the way
to a greater Range of Motion.
Remember to hold for no more than 2 seconds, release, return to
the normal position and repeat for the five repetitions. Try not
to have any hesitations between stretches and make it as fluid as
possible. Try to stretch every day if possible, remember to:
Work one target muscle at a time
Contract the muscle that is opposite the targeted muscle, which
will relax in preparation of its stretch
Stretch it gently and quickly.
Release it before it realizes that it has been stretched and
goes into its protective contraction
Below are two exercises that can be done straight away even while
you are at work to stretch that tension and stress from of your
1. Lie down on the floor with your buttocks
against a wall and your legs straight up the wall. Slowly flex
your toes towards your knees, hold for two seconds and repeat
five times. This will loosen up your lower back and stretch your
hamstrings and hips giving instant relief for tired backs.
This exercise can be done while at the office anytime you start
to feel that stress and tension building up.
2. Sitting in a chair and putting one leg out
straight, flex your toes towards your knee, now lean towards that
foot, stretching your hands towards it and letting your head and
shoulders follow, hold for two seconds and repeat five times.
This will create a stretch right across your lower back and neck.
A flexible body is:
More easily trained for strength and endurance
Enjoys more range of motion
Stays balanced more easily and is less prone to injury
Recovers from workouts more quickly, and feels better
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