Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) – Learn from fitness professional Ann Weixel

Happy Workout Wednesday Strong Runner Chicks!

Today we’re all about AIS!

This summer I had the opportunity to work one on one with fitness professional Ann Weixel, doing Active Isolated Stretching (AIS). Ann is the owner of Ride + Workout, an indoor cycling, rowing, and strength training facility in Lakewood, Ohio. Ann’s facility provides an environment and energy unlike any other. She is passionate about fitness, health, and injury prevention. She instructs challenging and inspiring fitness classes for all of her clients, as well as providing one on one and class instruction on AIS.

After each session with Ann, I left feeling stronger, more flexible, and rejuvenated. Ann originally learned from, and continues to study with Aaron Mattes, the creator of Active Isolated Stretching. Their mission is to heal and rehabilitate bodies of all ages. As we become more aware of the importance of injury prevention, more attention is brought to AIS. Ann is incredibly passionate about the power of AIS, as am I after experiencing the effects this method has had on my own performance. AIS is a powerful tool that I believe all runners should understand and incorporate into their own routines. To dive a bit deeper into what AIS is and why it is effective, I asked Ann to give us her insight.

What is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)?

AIS is a precise method of stretching based on a 2 second hold per stretch. By holding stretches for no more than 2 seconds, you encourage tissue to lengthen safely and effectively.

Why does AIS work?           

AIS works because it honors your body’s myotatic stretch reflex. Simply stated, your body signals a lengthened muscle to contract after 2 seconds. By staying within the 2 second window and repeating the stretch several times, your tissue lengthens safely and effectively.

Why should runners use AIS?

By adding AIS to your running workouts, runners can prevent injuries, open tight tissue and heal current injuries. Remember, like any type of cardio, running is repetitive and high impact. Muscles, joints and connective tissue will stay open and strong with regular, dedicated maintenance. If you are new to AIS, have faith in the process. It’s truly life changing. You’ll move faster and more efficiently than ever.

What are the best AIS movements for pre-run?

Always start with your hip flexors! Your hip flexors are the gateway to your lower body. Quads, specific lower leg stretches and hamstring stretching is ideal. Addressing your chest tissue will encourage better breathing and posture.

What are the best AIS movements for post-run?

Get a feel where you may be feeling tight and cranky. Address your hip flexors again. Check out your glutes and lower back. Inner and outer thighs, calf muscles, ankles and hamstrings. It may seem overwhelming, but once you embrace a solid stretching routine and feel the difference within your body, you’ll keep doing the maintenance!

Any other advice or knowledge you would like to share?

As a lifelong exerciser and previous distance runner, I wish I had learned this method years ago. It would have saved my body from so much tightness and pain. AIS should be the precursor to every other activity that you do. Challenge yourself to make the time for a regular AIS routine. It’s truly a game changer and very empowering to be able to address tight areas and heal them with regular maintenance.  Once tight tissue opens up, incorporate simple, specific strength training. Then create a balance between the stretching and strengthening. It really works!!

Stay tuned for AIS routines that address all areas of the body! Thank you to Ann for her time teaching me, working with me, inspiring me, and cultivating my passion for injury prevention!


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