Author | Psoas Massage and Bodywork

If you're anything like me, finding good and effective stretches isn't always as obvious as bending over and touching your feet. Those hard to reach spots like your gluts, lateral rotators and calves can be tricky, particularly if you're already pretty flexible. So how can we get a deeper stretch? With Active Isolated Stretching (AIS), that's how.  

AIS is a type of stretching where you are using your own muscles to complete a stretch. To introduce you to the principles of AIS, Scott has demonstrated a great stretch for your calf muscles, the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus. So run a little faster, bike a little harder and wear those high heels (because I just can't give them up!). Your calves are safer now.


Who needs this exercise?   

Cyclists, runners, people who wear shoes with high heels.

Anyone can benefit from Active Isolated Stretching. As Scott explains in the video, with AIS you are using your own muscles to help complete a stretch. The benefit in doing this is that when you engage one muscle, its opposite muscle is forced to relax, allowing you to get a deeper stretch in that muscle.

For the best results:

Stretching the Gastrocnemius

  • Your leg should be straight.
  • Wrap a strap around your foot.
  • To begin, use the muscles in the top of your foot and leg to lift your foot toward your shin.
  • Once you've gone as far as you can comfortably go using those muscles, pull on the strap for an extended stretch. Remember to continue using the muscles on the front of your leg and foot while using the strap.
  • Hold this stretch for a second and then release.
  • Repeat this motion 10 times.
  • Don't forget to breathe.

Stretching the Soleus

  • Bend your leg upward, such that your foot is flat on the surface.
  • Lift your foot upward toward your shins, using the same muscles as in the Gastrocnemius stretch.
  • Once you've lifted your foot as far as it can go with your muscles, grab the bottom of your foot with both hands and pull even closer to your shins for a deeper stretch.
  • Hold with both hands for one second and then release.
  • Repeat this motion 10 times.
  • Don't forget to breathe.

 Note: If you feel pain and/or numbness during the exercise, discontinue until checking with a professional.