Active Isolated Stretching

I wanted to write a follow up to the information we went over on Thursday with NRC as a resource for those of you that were there.  And a sneak peak for those of you that could not make it.  I am going to do this blog in two sections first one discussing the active isolated stretching and the second about the drills.

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So here it goes!  Stretching and recovery is of the utmost importance when it comes to running.  As I mentioned in my post training is a two way street involving making physiological gains by pushing your limits but on the flip side to this you also must recover in order to be able to continue to make gains.  What happens if you are in a constant state of not recovering?  You run the risk of getting injured or running yourself in to a state of overtraining where you will likely cease to see gains or be forced to stop running completely.  Either way; not the option you want to take.

So I wanted to get some tools out there that you can use to help yourself recover better.  Timing is perfect with this due to most people training for a fall race should be in the height of their training right now.

Active isolated stretching was founded and created by Wharton Health (learn more here: https://www.whartonhealth.com/).  It is something I learned a few years ago and have been using ever since.  I try to give it to as many people as I can.  The reason being is I personally find it incredibly helpful in my recovery.  And if I skip it after a run (even a short recovery run) I feel like a total grandma who cannot move well at all for the first few k’s of my next run.

Active isolated stretching differs from traditional stretching in the amount of time you are holding the stretch for and the number of repetitions.   If we think about traditional stretching (hold for 30s) the problem is that it does not work well with the elastic properties of the muscle.  And this is something we most certainly do not want to lose.

These stretches have many benefits but the most obvious is their ability to help flush out the muscles post run/workout.  Due to the nature of these stretches keeping you moving they get the blood flowing and help to flush out your legs.  This helps you to recover that much faster.  You also work through different joint ranges of motion.

Lastly, I really like these stretches and having a routine because you can then start to notice the difference side to side and day to day.  For example, if one hamstring is much tighter than the other, it is probably worth spending a little more time on evening them out, rolling and more stretches etc.

2.01.2017 Home Run
Photo cred: Tobias Wang

These of course are not the be all and end all but from my personal experience they are something that I find has worked well for me.

A fun science fact as to why these work so well is reciprocal inhibition.  This is a mechanism in the brain that will not allow opposing muscles to both be activated at the same time.  So, if one muscle is moving the joint the opposite one (one you are trying to stretch) must relax, and therefore you get a better stretch!

Ideally these should be done post run… but if you do not have time post run (I get it life goes on post run).  You can still do them later in the day and reap some benefits.  So basically what I am saying is there is no excuse… do it!  It should not take any longer than 10mins!!

Do each stretch on both sides bringing it to the point of feeling a stretch (not pain), hold for 1s and repeat 10x.  Unfortunately I cannot post the videos on this blog but please refer to my instagram from Aug 25 for the demos  (https://www.instagram.com/p/BYONAf0gx6I/?hl=en&taken-by=torunningchiro).

Happy recovery!!!

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