Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disorder that, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide. The cause of multiple sclerosis has been linked to genetics, environment, autoimmune dysfunction, etc., but if research efforts continue, a lot of mystery remains. However, among all the mysteries, a form of treatment known as active isolated stretching (AIS) has emerged as a way to not only delay the progression of the disease, but in some cases even reverse the symptoms. . “The results are undeniable,” says Ben Benjamin, MD, a renowned athletic medicine physician, on AIS and its benefits for people with degenerative diseases.
Isolated active stretching is a form of therapy developed by Aaron L. Mattes, RKT, LMT over 38 years ago that uses gentle, therapeutic stretching to restore musculoskeletal balance throughout the body. For people with MS, active isolated stretching can:
Stimulate neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons in the brain) and create new neural pathways
Multiple sclerosis damages the protective coating of nerve fibers, known as myelin, compromising the ability of the neural pathway to communicate effectively and significantly disrupting the body’s central nervous system. However, studies have shown that learning stimulates the creation of new neurons in the brain and helps in the creation of new neural pathways. Because isolated active stretching is active rather than passive, and a new range of motion is achieved with almost every repetition, the body remains in a state of continuous learning throughout the treatment. This can help damaged nerve fibers regain their function or create new pathways to bypass those that are too badly damaged.
Spasticity refers to involuntary muscle contractions that can cause painful spasms and overly tense / stiff muscles, a symptom common to those with MS. ISA can effectively reduce muscle tension and thus help prevent muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis.
The isolated active stretch pumps a large amount of blood throughout the body, delivering much needed nutrients and oxygen to surrounding tissues. ISA also stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid which helps flush out lactic acid and other unwanted toxins.
Reach more muscles
There are nearly 200 stretches in active isolated stretch. This is of great importance because multiple sclerosis can affect different areas of the body in each individual. While working with MS patients at the Mattes Clinic in Sarasota, Fla., A client’s toes were found to regularly spasm and inhibit their ability to walk properly. How he felt on any given day would be directly related to the severity of these spasms. After working out active isolated stretches for the muscles of the foot and toes for a few minutes, the spasmodic muscles released and the patient was able to walk (and feel) more normal. Active isolated stretching treats the body from head to toe (literally) so that it can reach muscle tissue in almost any area of the body.
Build up your strength and balance
Since each stretch forces you to contract the opposite muscle, AIS can help build muscle and restore balance in the body, resulting in better posture and stronger joints. There are also strengthening protocols in AIS that include exercises to address specific muscle weaknesses throughout the body. Studies have shown that exercise, including muscle building, also has a positive effect on neurogenesis.
Multiple sclerosis can be an incredibly difficult disease to treat, however, for those with MS who have tried other forms of treatment with limited success, active stretching in isolation may provide a promising alternative.