Passive Stretching for Your Active Lifestyle

therapist performing passive stretching on client

Staying active means looking after your body. Stretching is a key part of avoiding injury, especially as you get older. You already know you should stretch regularly and before and after workouts, but you might not be familiar with all the kinds of stretching available. In fact there are three kinds – static, where you hold a pose, dynamic, where you move (such as lunges) and then there’s passive stretching. Passive stretching is a great addition to your workout routine.

What is Passive or Assisted Stretching?

Passive stretching uses other forces to stretch, rather than your own ability. You might use a towel or a fitness strap, or work with a therapist. You might also use another part of your body, such as holding your leg up with your hand. You may be using this technique already, without knowing what it’s called.

This type of stretching should not cause pain. While doing this, you should “listen to your body”. It’s easy to stretch a muscle beyond its limitations and cause injury. This passive technique with a therapist can help you when you can’t hold a pose or do dynamic stretching for whatever reason.

Benefits of Passive Stretching

Adding passive stretching to your routine can have a number of benefits. Here are some of the key ones to consider:

  1. It can help muscles heal after an injury. Passive stretching can relieve muscle spasms and assist with pain. However, if you are rehabbing an injury, talk to a therapist first so you don’t cause further injury.
  2. It reduces post-workout muscle fatigue and soreness by helping you cool down.
  3. Because your muscles must be relaxed for this type of stretching to work, it relieves physical tension, which can also help relieve mental tension and stress.
  4. It increases your range of motion and flexibility by gently (and we stress gently) pushing your muscles past what you can do.
  5. It works around limitations such as not being able to bend over.

You should do passive stretching after a workout as there are some indications that extreme stretching prior to exercise can reduce muscle strength. You will also get more benefit from passive stretching when your muscles are already warmed up.

How a Therapist Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Particularly if your goal is to relieve pain, increase range of motion, or work around limitations, you should seek professional help designing your passive stretching routine. A qualified massage therapist can help because they know exactly what kind of stretches will improve your situation without making it worse.

They also know what they’re doing and won’t over-stretch your muscles. Combining therapist-assisted stretching with massage can ensure your muscles are relaxed enough to increase the stretch slightly and improve flexibility.

If your goal is to improve athletic performance, a therapist familiar with the needs for your sport can help.

Never start a stretching program after an injury or if you have chronic mobility issues without talking to a medical professional. You should get clearance from your doctor and then work with a trained therapist who can do your passive stretching with you and then give you “homework” to ensure continued improvement.

The Results of this Therapy

Ideally, passive stretching will increase your range of motion and flexibility and improve your mood. If you are engaged in an active lifestyle, appropriate use of this technique can improve your performance… such as working on your golf handicap, your running form, or your ability to enjoy your dancing club. In other instances, stretching is a key part of health and wellness and will keep you mobile for longer.

At Massage & Wellness Spa we offer 30, 60 and 90 minute stretching sessions to help our clients recover from injury, improve flexibility, and develop overall wellness. Contact us to book a session today.

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