Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: July 2012

Don't be a stiff! Here's the secret to getting flexible ...

Most of us have been taught to hold stretches for 30 seconds to a minute. This can be very uncomfortable for someone with tight muscles. In fact, it may also be ineffective. Research has shown that after a muscle is stretched for only 2 seconds, the stretch reflex kicks in causing the muscle to contract to protect itself. Trying to stretch a contracted muscle is not only unproductive, it may also be harmful.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a great solution to this problem. With AIS, a muscle is stretched for no more than 2 seconds and then returned to its original position, thus ending the stretch before the muscle has a chance to contract. This is then repeated several times.

In AIS, you activate your muscles to bring you into the stretch. The muscle you are stretching is known as the agonist, and the contracting muscle is the antagonist, which does the opposite action of the one you're stretching. For example, if you want to stretch your quadriceps muscles on the front of your thigh, you need to bend your knee by contracting the hamstrings in the back. Engaging the hamstrings causes another reflex called reciprocal inhibition, which sends a message to the quadriceps to relax, enabling them to lengthen. Once you've actively brought the agonist muscle into the stretched position, you then assist with your hands or an exercise strap to slightly deepen the stretch. Count to 2, release, and repeat 8 to 12 times. Remember to breathe!

Holding a stretch for too long squeezes blood away from the area being worked. Because you keep moving with AIS, you increase blood flow to the tissues, which in turn brings fresh nutrients and oxygen to the area and flushes out metabolic waste that builds up in tight muscles. You can use AIS to warm up your body for any activity.

AIS only takes a few minutes. If practiced 2 to 3 times a day, you will see and feel the difference. You'll be able to stretch farther with greater ease, reduce muscle tension or pain, and enjoy increased mobility.

Check out this video for a demonstration of AIS to improve neck flexibility.

Click here for a short video by the developer of Active Isolated Stretching himself, Aaron Mattes!

(And don't worry, you're not required to imitate the photo above!)

Announcing my new blog!

Many of you don't know this, but I am a recovered anorexic and have recently completed my memoir for which I hope to find a publisher. My anorexia was mistreated by the medical community for over a decade. Finally, at 22, my life was saved by a few dedicated professionals, who focused on treating the whole person, not just the illness or its symptoms. I decided to devote my life to helping others in a similar way, by focusing on healing people holistically, as a licensed massage therapist. In my new blog, I'll share health knowledge I've gathered on my journey from self-destruction to restoration of my own health to facilitation of healing and well-being in others. You'll also find exclusive excerpts from my memoir, Hungry for Life! I hope you enjoy my blog and please feel free to post your questions, comments and thoughts.

What's new with me ...

I'm still singing! My friend and I sang a duet at the Duplex. Check it out!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

Available now!

Available now!

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