active isolated stretching explained by tim hawkins

April 8, 2013

Whether you are an elite athlete, a long distance runner participating in the numerous marathons / triathlons in Dubai, a cyclist, a patient in rehab for an injury, a weekend warrior, or a stay at home mom, Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) will enhance all aspects of movement no matter what activity you choose to participate in.

We meet up with Tim Hawkins to dive deeper into the very interesting topic of Active Isolated Stretching / Myofascial Elongation and core & functional strength, which is designed specific to the individual’s weaknesses.

A dedicated athlete himself, Tim Hawkins, CEO & VP of Research and Development at and an expert on soft tissue disorders, proper body mechanics and Active Isolated Stretching specialist, Tim enjoys competing in triathlons, long distance running, cycling, martial arts, and ice hockey among other activities while working with thousands of various athletes of all ages and abilities, where he specializes with runners, triathletes, cyclists, and swimmers, including a number of Olympic Athletes.

He had previously suffered a rotator cuff injury and was on the mission to getting ‘fixed’ without having to undergo surgery. An expert on soft tissue disorders, proper body mechanics and trained in Active Isolated Stretching specialist, Tim explains the benefits and how to apply Active Isolated Stretching to your everyday life helping to prevent injuries before they arise.


Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) has been used by physical therapists and athletes for decades.  The three main fundamentals of AIS which Tim lists are:

  1. It requires the active participation of the client (working with the body’s natural laws – not against them. Tim Hawkins explains that pain is caused effectively by a tug of war in the body. If the joints and fascia surrounding it are not working together and aligned, it will cause pain.)
  2. It isolates muscles individually for maximal safety and lengthening,
  3. It utilizes a succession of two-second-long stretches.  Each additional hold allows the stretch to progress deeper and deeper as the body warms up the muscle tissue.This offers tremendous relief from pain symptoms and stiffness, increased range of motion and muscle strength, improved posture, increased circulation, lower risk of injury, faster healing times and enhanced muscle relaxation. Not to mention, feel great and loosened up after an Active Isolated Stretching session!
    AIS is great for those suffering from TMJ, sciatica, plantar fasciitis,  neck – back – shoulder – hip – knee pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

    How It Works:
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Stretching the same muscle multiple times at a span of two seconds and trying to pull further will have a neurogenic effect so that your nerves will remember how to fire at a greater length. It also releases holding patterns and can relieve trigger points. You won’t stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, as you would with traditional stretch-and-hold stretches. Instead, by holding stretches for just a couple seconds, you’ll increase your range of motion with each repetition.

The idea is that you will achieve a greater range of movement over each set, compared to forcing the muscle into a static stretch which you subsequently hold for 10-30 sec. So the theory behind AIS is that it if a muscle is stretched to far too soon, as with conventional stretching, you will elicit the myotatic reflex, which is a protective mechanism preventing the muscle from tearing. So really all you end up doing is trying to stretch a muscle which is doing everything it can NOT TO stretch (it contracts).


*Beginner’s Guide to Active Isolated Stretching :
*Tim Hawkins :