Active Isolated Stretching v/s Other Stretching Exercises- Which is Better and Why?

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istockphoto 1277294716 170667a
istockphoto 1277294716 170667a

The most common stretching exercise is the static stretch: you reactively pull a muscle as far away from its attached joint as possible and hold it there. This can have a range of helpful effects. 

The downside, however, is that it takes time to work, which makes it more difficult to fit into your busy schedule. 

Active isolated stretching is also a type of static contraction—you consciously contract surrounding parts of your body with the desired muscle group in mind, and then pull them away from their anchoring joints for three seconds before releasing them. 

This is a much faster way to give your muscles an elongating stretch. 

The idea behind active isolated stretching is that by consciously contracting other muscles before you stretch, you can stimulate the nerves of the stretched muscle, so it will receive more blood and oxygen than if it were passively stretched alone. 

This process can take as little as 10 seconds and can boost flexibility by as much as 20%, compared to the same time spent performing traditional static stretches.

Active isolated stretching, also called contract-relax stretching (CRF), has been shown to be effective in improving range of motion of all major joints including the shoulder, back, hip and ankle/foot joints.

What distinguishes active isolated stretching from other stretching exercises?

Active isolated stretching is the only stretching technique that preferentially contracts the agonist muscles (the muscles you want to stretch) prior to applying a resistance and then stretches the antagonist muscles (the muscles that resist being stretched).

 It is also the only stretching technique that uses a 3 second relaxation period after applying resistance. 

The active isolated stretching procedure has been found to increase passive range of motion by up to 30% more than static or PNF-type stretches.

Some of the points about Active Isolated Stretching v/s Other Stretching Exercises :

1.  All stretching effects are effectors of short-

Term potentiation of synaptic potentiation, which is the filling of gaps in the activation properties of the involved motor neuron synapses.

2. The activation of a muscle is an electro-

Chemical process that peaks at around 70% so a high level stretch, unlike reflexive stretching, mimics the natural fluctuation in muscle activation for most muscles.

3. It is important to understand that passive stretch exercises –

Do not activate fast twitch muscle fiber and as such they can be very similar to stretching exercises performed with a passive resistance or during active isolated stretches with a low level resistance.

4. It is important to understand that active isolated stretches are not a semi-

Isometric contraction, but PNF contract relaxation modality with a three second duration.

5. The use of Active Isolated Stretching for the purpose of facilitating –

A natural adjustment of muscle tone and posture is generally more effective than other forms of stretching in producing the desired effect.

6. Unlike some forms of stretching,- 

Active Isolated Stretching can be done almost anywhere at any time. Most people prefer to perform these stretches before or after their workout or when they are on break at work or in school.

7. Other Stretching Exercises – 

​As the use of static stretching increases, there is a large chance that passive stretching exercises will increase in popularity. 

While some studies have shown that passive stretching can confer positive results, the caveat with passive stretching is that it takes a long time to obtain the desired effects. 

This can often be a problem as people look for quick fixes and we should also realize that some tissues may respond better than others. 

For instance, the hamstrings can be stretched many times with static stretches but may not fully activate after deactivation so they are more likely to retain stretch with static stretches than muscles such as biceps and quadriceps which are more muscle fiber specific. 

This can be attributed to the different qualities of muscle fiber.

Active Isolated Stretching v/s Other Stretching Exercises- Which is Better and Why ?

1. Active isolated stretches are generally more effective to improve joint flexibility.

 And range of motion than any other form of stretching. 

This is because they correct the mechanical impediment of the stretch by consciously commanding targeted muscles to contract prior to the stretch. 

As a result, the movement is more efficient and will not only acutely increase passive joint range of motion but also prime those muscles for future activation under a greater load.

2. Active isolated stretches are also better than static stretching. 

In terms of ease and speed (in 3 seconds) of getting results. This is because active isolated stretches do not need to wait like static stretches to get their desired effect. 

The active isolated stretch works in a more efficient manner than static stretching. 

It has been shown that, if an active isolated stretch is performed correctly, the average time required for achieving a desired effect is less than 20 seconds. In comparison, people using passive stretching generally spend at least 5 minutes and have to repeat the procedure several times before they see any visible changes.

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