Properly Stretching to Avoid Injury with Active Isolated Flexibility: An Interview with Phil Wharton

philwhartonThe potential merits and dangers of stretching have been a hotly debated topic in running circles.

Research has shown that when you stretch, small microtears occur in your muscles that can often cause more harm than good.  However, we also know that flexibility is essential to staying injury-free and having a strong, powerful stride.

So, what’s the solution?

Phil Wharton, along with his father Jim, pioneered a standard known as Active Isolated Flexibility, or AIF, that delivers the benefits of stretching without the muscle damage.

The short version of AIF is that you need to dynamically stretch in order to achieve proper musculoskeletal balances that will allow you to stay healthier and train in a more consistent fashion for a longer period of time.

The long version? That’s going to be covered on this week’s show. Phil Wharton was a young runner when he developed a particularly bad–and painful–case of scoliosis (curvature of the spine). In his quest for correcting the problem, he and his father became musculoskeletal specialists and therapists with a “secret” to allowing the body to work on it’s own. By the way, Phil, through AIF, corrected his scoliosis and THEN was able to train himself to a 2:23 marathon personal best, too!

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • The best practices of stretching.

  • How to use active isolated flexibility to avoid injury.

  • The role diet plays in your training, beyond your overall health.

  • How to deal with and heal an ever-irritating malady, such as plantar fasciitis.

If you’ve ever heard that stretching is bad, check out what Phil has to say! After listening, let us know how you plan to incorporate AIF into your training plan.

Watch this week’s show now

Download the podcast version here

Download directly to your iTunes podcast or directly to your Stitcher Radio app and take this interview on your next run

Links and resources mentioned in this interview:

Self Care Center –

Wharton Exercises for Runners –

The Wharton’s Back Book

The Wharton’s Stretch Book

Wharton Performance Health

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6 Responses on “Properly Stretching to Avoid Injury with Active Isolated Flexibility: An Interview with Phil Wharton

  1. Properly Stretching to Avoid Injury with Active Isolated Flexibility: An Interview with Phil Wharton
    So after listening to this interview….love this website thank you!!!! i would lilke to know WHO is the person (ie…pt, chiropractor, biomechanist, sports ortho, exersice physio etc….) that one should be seeing if they want help on diagnosing the imbalances you may have? I have been to several PT’s and sports Chiros all who only address the pain itself it seems. I am tired of seeing people who are not looking at the whole picture. I am lost on this part. I have already learned way more just from your website and interview with Greh Lehman and now mr warton and already putting these things into practice. But if i do decide to go see someone that is where i have trouble deciding were to go? I have access to go to Boulder Center for SPorts med but there are too many people to pick from? who is the person with the most knowledge of the whole body?? Thanks so much!! I have been dealing with changing my running form and i got plantar from that and dealing with back pain so my running career has been put on the back burner this summer….its what i love to do!! so again thanks for sharing all this information!! been so helpful!!!!! Nancy

  2. Hello Nancy,

    I understand your frustration as this issue of finding resources that look beyond “band aid” therapy can be hard to find. This is what lead me my path of helping others and the constant journey of listening to the body and sharing the tools to do so with others.

    If you are in the Boulder area Jay Johnson is a great person to reach out to he has a wonderful massage therapist and chiropractor that he works closely with for his athletes as well as sending them to me for evaluations and treatments also. You can find Jay through his website.

    Our books and DVD’s include our work that lengthens and strengthens musculoskeletal imbalances I would recommend integrating this work into your life daily.

    I’m happy this work has helped you and wish you a full recovery!

    Phil Wharton

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