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The 10-minute way to get the knots out of sore muscles

Diane Cherico

Muscle pain sidelines most of us at one time or another. When different therapies fail to deliver results, many people are now turning to Active Isolated Stretches (AIS) to help restore muscles to optimal strength and wellness. 

AIS is a stretching technique that maximizes stretching’s benefits while minimizing discomfort. 

Unlike prolonged stretching, AIS is characterized by repeated stretches that last for just a few seconds. This lengthens the targeted muscles and often increases range of motion, so muscle pain may be less likely to recur. AIS requires investing about 10 minutes a day, on a regular basis, to help your body feel better. 

AIS helps to reverse some of the muscle damage caused by repetitive use. Think about how much you use your body in just a single day. What abuse are you putting it through? What do you do on a regular basis that makes your muscles so tight? Are your neck and shoulders strained because you sit at a desk all day? Are your lower back muscles sore from standing throughout your shift at work? 

When you use a muscle, it gets shorter and tighter. You can see this when you do the muscle man stance. Your bicep gets smaller. Now imagine which muscle you are repeatedly using, causing it to be as tight as a rubber band so it has no more to give you. That’s when your muscle starts yelling at you, causing a little ache here and a little pain there. Of course, it also sends you pain signals that it is pulling on that bone it is attached to. 

Our muscles are so amazing! They are capable of doing so much work and play. That is why it is necessary to take proper care of them. It’s really not that hard if you put your mind to it. Commit 10 minutes each night to doing easy AIS stretches that you only hold for three seconds, as opposed to the old way of stretching where you hold a stretch for 15 seconds or more. 

When you hold a stretch for more than 3 seconds, you actually work that muscle too hard and cause it to tighten even more. But at three-seconds, you will safely and efficiently open that tight muscle and return it to its original length, much like when you were young. 

One of my clients had been in physical therapy for 9 months for excruciating shoulder pain. Within three months of AIS, he was able to stop sleeping in his recliner and was back into his bed. Within six months, his full range of motion was restored. 


AIS has been in our country for over 60 years, but unless you are lucky enough to find a practitioner of this therapy you may not even know it exists. That is unfortunate because they truly are our best defense against pain. When you cover pain with medication, you are not helping that muscle. You are only hurting it because pain is our body's way of letting us know there is something wrong; and 9 out of 10 times, it is just a basic tight muscle that needs to be properly stretched. 

Try this AIS for a sore neck, whether it’s from working at a desk or you just slept wrong. Clasp your hands behind your head and gently pull your head and neck ... not your shoulders … down slowly. Breathe out slowly, approximately three seconds. Then slowly bring your head up and do it again at least five more times. Then roll your shoulders and do five more. The magic and healing happens when you do sets of 20 or more reps. It’s kind of like taking a walk. If you walk for five minutes, you will only get a little benefit but when you walk for 20 or more minutes you will really feel the difference! It is a wonderful feeling to truly pull your muscles back to health and out of pain. The more you really feel it, the more you really need this stretch.

The book “You Can if You Say You Can,” has proper AIS instructions for a variety of muscles, as well as a workout done from your bed. Also included are common sense eating and lifestyle suggestions to help you grow older gracefully or even better, stay young. 

AIS will make your whole body feel great after you are done. You will feel all the blood flowing and your body humming. Plus, AIS will help you identify your problem areas and may eventually help you avoid that pain from even starting. Happy Stretching!

By Diane Cherico, LMT, MMP

Diane Cherico is a Medical Massage Practitioner and Licensed Massage Therapist; and the author of “You Can If You Say You Can: A Common-Sense Approach to Better Your Body, Mind and Soul.” 

May 17, 2022 @ 03:28 pm

1 Replies



Thank you for sharing.
May 19, 2022 @ 12:25 pm

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