Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: 5 Ways Active Isolated Stretching Can Make a Difference
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 MS has been linked to genetics, the environment, autoimmune dysfunction, and more, but as research efforts continue, a great deal of mystery remains. However, amid all the mystery, a form of treatment known as active isolated stretching (AIS) has emerged as a means of not only slowing the progression of the condition, but, in some cases, even reversing symptoms. “The results are unmistakable,” says Ben Benjamin, MD, a renowned sports medicine doctor, of AIS and its benefits for those with degenerative diseases.
Active Isolated Stretching is a form of therapy developed by Aaron L. Mattes, RKT, LMT more than 38 years ago that uses gentle therapeutic stretching to restore musculoskeletal balance throughout the body. For those 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 covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin, compromising the neural pathway’s ability to communicate effectively and greatly disrupting the body’s central nervous system. However, studies have shown that learning stimulates the creation of new neurons in the brain and aids in the creation of new neural pathways. Since active isolated stretching is active, rather than passive, and a new range of motion is achieved with almost every repetition, the body remains in a continuous state of learning throughout the treatment. This can help damaged nerve fibers regain their function or create new pathways to avoid those that are severely damaged.
Spasticity refers to involuntary muscle contractions that can cause painful spasms and overly tight / stiff muscles, a common symptom in those with MS. AIS can effectively reduce muscle tension and thus help prevent muscle spasms in those with multiple sclerosis.
Active isolated stretching pumps a large amount of blood throughout the body, providing the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the surrounding tissues. AIS also stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid which helps eliminate lactic acid and other unwanted toxins.
Reach more muscles
There are almost 200 stretches in Active Isolated Stretch. This is of great importance since multiple sclerosis can affect different areas of the body in each individual. While working with MS patients at the Mattes clinic in Sarasota, FL, a client’s toes were noted to spasm regularly and inhibit their ability to walk properly. How you feel on any given day would be directly related to the severity of those spasms. After working through isolated active stretches for the foot and toe muscles for a few minutes, the spasming muscles loosened 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 every area of the body.
Develop strength and balance
Since each stretch requires 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 strengthening, also has a positive effect on neurogenesis.
Multiple sclerosis can be an incredibly difficult condition to treat, however, for those suffering from MS who have tried other forms of treatment with limited success, isolated active stretching may provide a hopeful alternative.