Lesson 2 – Fundamentals of Active Isolated Stretching

Lesson 2 Chapter 1 Module 1

In this lesson we take a close look at a new way stretching and learn why this method is so effective.

We'll learn the principles of its simple but profound approach and the things we need to keep in mind as we're applying its principles to a wide range of stretches.


• Active Isolated Stretching provides us with a sound alternative to static stretching because it does not trigger the protective stretch reflex.

• It accomplishes this by employing a repeated 2-second stretch instead a stretch that is held for 20 seconds or 30 seconds or longer.

• Active Isolated Stretching has three basic components: 1) Actively move into the stretch 2) Hold the stretch for only a 2-second count 3) Come completely off the stretch to make the muscle slack.

• It's common to not come completely off the stretch but failing to do so can inadvertently trigger the protective stretch reflex.

• Because so many of my clients found themselves still under the influence of no pain, no gain even after learning the gentle, incremental method of Active Isolated Stretching, I developed the method and mindset of Progressive Ease.


How Does Yoga Fit In?

The most common question I hear about the protective stretch reflex and the 2-second stretch is in regards to yoga where the poses are routinely held for extended periods of time.

The distinction we want to make here is this:

Yoga is a powerful practice that can bestow innumerable benefits and I strongly encourage my clients to incorporate yoga into their lives. I practice yoga myself and will be including yoga-inspired strategies in subsequent programs here at Relieving That Pain Online Courses.

Yoga is More Dynamic Than Simple Stretching

But yoga is more dynamic than the simple act of stretching. While it's certainly possible to improve flexibility doing yoga, that's not always what happens.

In yoga we're often putting muscles on a stretch and then also loading them by holding up our body weight. This puts muscles in an eccentrically contracted state, a powerful challenge to muscles. Working muscles in an eccentrically contracted state builds a certain type of strength.

For Many, Yoga is Not the Right Place to Start

This is not, however, an ideal way to improve flexibility and length in muscles. Too often attempting to use yoga to address inflexibility has the impact of over-challenging muscles, especially in cases where muscles are exceedingly tight and short.

Too many times I've heard the discouraging report that an individual tried a yoga class and found it to be too difficult or, worse, they got injured. This is NOT the fault of yoga itself or the yoga teacher. Rather this is just an attempt to do something the body may not be ready for.

Once muscles achieve a certain degree of flexibility, however, they can tolerate being put in a static position without the protective stretch reflex kicking in, even when eccentrically contracted (when holding up body weight).

Getting Started with Progressive Ease

But for many, this is too much too soon, not only at a physical level but at a mental/attitudinal level as well. The no pain, no gain mindset creeps in and pushes us to do things that are not in our best interest.

This one of many reasons I developed the method and mindset of Progressive Ease, covered in the next lesson.

  • This is explains why yoga hasn’t helped me in my recovery and now that you’ve explained why, it makes complete sense. Thank you for the insight! D

  • Amazing explanation of when to use what practices. I am so thankful for your willingness to share this gold standard information.

  • I have had sciatica, mid & low back pain for several months. Our daughter sent us your website and within two days I was pain free and able to walk our dog. My only problem now is accessing the premium course I paid for. Hope someone can help me. Mahalo.

  • I find not only the logic of the Isolated stretching verses static and related reasons Yoga can wait, but the time taken to be detailed is much appreciated.

  • Pen