What Is Passive Stretching?

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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 May 2020
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Passive stretching is a common form of static stretching exercises designed specifically for warm up and cool down routines. This type of stretch involves the use of a partner, mechanism, or other body part to maximize the maneuver. Since the muscles are relaxed and not being made to contract by the body, they are considered to be in the passive state of movement; hence the name of passive stretching. An example of this would be the standing stretch where a person reaches down and grabs their toes and holds the position for a specified amount of time.

Some studies claim that these types of routines are bad for the muscles and the tendons around them because of the fact that they are being forced into position. Other specialists state that they are harmless when done properly. No matter the side of the argument that a specialist supports, they all agree that if passive stretching is done properly, without exerting too much force onto them, that they are a great way to loosen muscles before and after any type of physical exertion. The way injuries happen during these stretching movements is when the person performing them does not ease into it. Jerky and fast, unsymmetrical movements will cause excessive strain on the muscles and tendons, thereby drastically increasing the chance of injury.

These stretches are commonly performed before any type of sporting event because it loosens the muscles. This maximizes their use during the physical exertion, and decreases the possibility of injuries due to pulled or torn muscles. A common place that people see these types of stretches are football players before a game, ballet dancers before going out onto the stage, and martial arts experts that use a full range of motion techniques while fighting and demonstrating. Passive stretching exercises are also performed directly after the event in order to ensure that the muscles cool down slowly, which will prevent them from cramping or locking up.

The one area of exercise that a person will never perform passive stretching is during physical therapy after some type of injury has occurred. The reason for this is that since a rip or tear already exists within the muscles or tendons, pressure exerted onto the area would simply cause more damage to occur. This fact in itself makes a solid point for the specialists that claim that these stretches do more harm than good. According to them, if professional therapy personnel refuse to allow these forms of stretching to be done, then they have to have negative effects upon the body.


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