When you consider stretching, you may image somebody sitting on the ground, legs prolonged, reaching for his or her toes. But passive stretching takes a distinct strategy. Instead of relying by yourself flexibility, you utilize one thing (or somebody) else to assist.

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Licensed therapeutic massage therapist and registered nurse DeBorah Hill, RN, LMT, explains passive stretching and the way it can profit your well being.

What is passive stretching?

Most persons are aware of dynamic and static stretching. Static stretching focuses on holding a pose that stretches your muscle so far as you may. Dynamic stretching makes use of actions, like strolling lunges or hip circles, to heat up your muscle tissue earlier than an exercise.

Dynamic and static stretches are restricted to how far you may bodily transfer. Think of toe touches: Some individuals can contact their toes and past, whereas others can’t attain their knees.

Passive stretching makes use of different forces to stretch your muscle tissue, quite than your individual potential. “During passive stretching, your body is loose and relaxed,” says Hill. “You let an external force — like a partner, towel or fitness strap — do the work.”

For instance, as an alternative of touching your toes, you may carry out a passive hamstring stretch. During this stretch, you lie in your again and use a rolled-up towel or strap that can assist you stretch the again of your thigh. 

If you’re new to passive stretching, use care. You might unintentionally stretch a muscle an excessive amount of and trigger harm.

“Listen to your body as you stretch,” advises Hill. “Passive stretching should not hurt, and many people overestimate how flexible they are. It’s helpful to talk with a licensed physical therapist or massage therapist before you start.”

Benefits of passive stretching

Consider including passive stretching to your routine to:

Relieve stress

Unlike static or dynamic stretching, passive stretching requires your muscle tissue to be relaxed for it to work. This launch of bodily pressure can profit your psychological well being.

“When you fully relax for a passive stretch, you tell your brain to shift out of fight-or-flight mode,” explains Hill. “Passive stretching can take you out of survival mode so you feel relaxed.”

Increase flexibility

One study found passive stretching to be higher than dynamic stretching at growing hamstring flexibility.

“Passive stretching can increase your range of motion when other stretches don’t work for you,” says Hill. “Your prop or partner can help you gently stretch beyond what you can normally do yourself.”

Overcome mobility limitations

If you’ve got mobility points or persistent ache, different types of stretching could be tough. Passive stretching works for individuals of all ages and health ranges. Can’t bend over or transfer your physique a sure manner? Passive stretches can work round these limitations.

Examples of passive stretching

Passive stretches can work many various muscle tissue. Try these stretches to get began:

1. Doorway stretch

This stretch focuses in your chest and shoulders:

  1. Stand simply behind a doorway.
  2. Place one foot barely in entrance of the opposite for stability.
  3. Raise your arms to the aspect along with your elbows bent at 90 levels, palms going through ahead like objective posts. Allow your elbows, forearms and palms to press towards the doorframe.
  4. Gently lean ahead, retaining your arms on the doorframe.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Rest for 5 seconds and repeat.

2. Standing quad stretch

This passive stretch focuses in your quadriceps, or the muscle tissue on the entrance of your thighs:

  1. Stand subsequent to a gentle object, akin to a desk or wall, that can be utilized for steadiness.
  2. Loop a rolled-up towel or health strap round your proper ankle.
  3. Hold the opposite finish of the towel or strap along with your proper hand.
  4. Place your left hand on the desk or wall for steadiness.
  5. Slowly bend your proper knee and pull your proper foot up towards your buttocks utilizing the towel or strap.
  6. Hold for as much as 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat on the alternative leg.

3. Towel hamstring stretch

The backs of your legs, or hamstrings, get a stretch right here — no toe-touching required:

  1. Lie in your again, along with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Slowly elevate one leg up towards the ceiling with out bending your knee, retaining your leg relaxed.
  3. Hook the towel or strap behind your hamstring or calf or beneath the arch of your foot, relying on what’s snug for you.
  4. Using your towel or strap, gently pull your leg in direction of you till you are feeling the stretch.
  5. Hold for as much as 30 seconds.
  6. Switch legs.

A stretching routine is price it

Taking a couple of minutes a day to stretch has massive advantages, from stopping accidents to lowering joint ache. And if different types of stretching haven’t labored for you, passive stretching is price a attempt.

“The beauty of passive stretching is that it works for so many people,” states Hill. “Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an elite athlete, passive stretching can help you feel great physically and mentally.”

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