What it is? Benefits, and how to get started
What is Passive Stretching?
Passive Stretching is the method in which you stay stretched in the position for an extended period of time. It is most commonly done with the assistance of another person, a prop, accessory, or the wall, to intensify the stretch. It is the best form of stretching for increasing flexibility, decreasing tension or muscle pain, and releasing the body.
What are the benefits of Passive Stretching?
Passive stretching has many benefits for the body because each stretch is held until your muscle fibers relax into it. When your muscle fibers are able to release into a stretch, you can get the full benefits of it, including:
When you stretch, you are moving your joints in various directions, in order to increase their individual range of motion. Since passive stretching holds these positions for longer, it allows for more benefits including:
- Increased flexibility in muscles, joints, and ligaments
- Less pain and tension in the body because of increased range of motion and mobility
- Relief from everyday tightness and discomfort that comes with repetitive motion or sitting
Passive stretching also has some benefits that you may not feel right away, but will have long term results:
- It helps to improve blood flow to the muscles and joints, so they will stay healthier and mobile for longer
- It increases the production of endorphins, so you will begin to feel less stressed in other aspects of your life
3. Decreases Risk of Injury
Passive stretching, if done correctly, can help to reduce the risk of injury in your everyday life. You are more likely to injure yourself if your muscles are tight, because it restricts your range of motion, causing injuries from things like:
- Doing repetitive motion at work, making the muscle painfully restrict
- Going outside of your range of motion in everyday activities, injuring the muscle if it cannot stretch that far.
Passive stretching can help to prevent these kinds of injuries from happening at all, if it is done consistently and with proper form.
When should you do Passive Stretching?
Passive stretching does require time, so at least half an hour should be set aside to fully stretch the body. It is best done after a workout, when your muscles are warm, and the muscle fibers are relaxed. It can be done anytime, but you will get the best results from doing it post-warm up. It should be done on a comfortable floor, so with a yoga mat or towel down, in order to allow the body to fully relax. Whether you are working out at the gym or at home, set aside some time after to do your full passive stretching routine, at least three times a week. Passive stretching can be done:
- After a workout when your muscles are very warm
- After a warm-up when your muscles are somewhat warm
- Before going to bed at night to relax
- Any time of day if you are experiencing extreme pain or tension
- Post-work day if you have a desk job or job with repetitive motion
- During your session at Kika Stretch Studios with a certified coach
Passive Stretching Techniques
There are two kinds of passive stretching: assisted and unassisted
1. Assisted passive stretching
Assisted passive stretching is when your stretching routine is led fully by a partner so that you are able to relax your body in the position. Whatever surface they are stretching you on, you allow the weight of gravity to release your muscles, as they hold you in each stretch. It is the most effective way to improve flexibility, as your muscle fibers relax faster when there is no tension or physical effort involved.
2. Unassisted passive stretching
Unassisted passive stretching is when you hold stretches for an extended period of time until you feel the muscle release. These stretches may involve some physical effort to hold yourself in the position, but it should be as minimal as possible in order to allow for the stretch to be effective. This may involve sitting or laying on the ground and using props or accessories to assist in the routine.
If you are unsure how to begin your passive stretch journey, Kika Stretch Studios is the perfect way for you to introduce your body to it. Kika Stretch Studios, home of The Kika Method, offers one-on-one sessions with a certified stretch coach, where they will take you through a series of passive static stretching. The coach does all of the work for you, so all you have to do is relax and breathe.
What is the difference between passive and active stretching?
Both forms of stretching are valid, and can be effectively used in different scenarios.
- Passive stretching is used for long-term flexibility and mobility, and is the most effective form of stretching for pain relief.
- Passive stretching is best done post-workout, or when you are warm, so that you can get the most out of the session.
- Active stretching is typically moving stretches that will prepare your body for a workout, giving you some flexibility and the range of motion that you need for the exercise.
- Active stretching gives your muscles mobility, without affecting performance. It is designed to improve athletic performance rather than increase flexibility.
Here are examples of Passive and Active stretches:
- A passive stretch would be holding a forward fold for a minute or so, until you feel the hamstrings release.
- A similar active stretch would be inchworms, where you are still stretching the hamstrings, while warming them up at the same time.
How Does Passive Stretching Improve Flexibility?
Passive stretching is the most effective form of stretching for improving flexibility. When you hold a stretch until the muscle has a chance to adjust to it, you are creating that pattern and capability for the muscle to return to that position faster. Our muscles hold the memory of repeated stretches, allowing you to continue to progress in flexibility. The longer you hold a stretch, the easier it will be the next time you do it. Stretching is all about consistency.
The best Passive Stretches for flexibility are:
- Forward Fold (Learn More)
- Runners Lunge (Learn More)
- Seated Butterfly
- Seated Forward Fold
- Seated Straddle
- Seated Side Bend (Learn More)
- Lying Hamstring Stretch (Learn More)
- Lying Knee to Chest (Learn More)
- Child’s Pose (Learn More)
- Lying Spinal Twist
How to Start Passive Stretching
If you are doing passive stretching for the first time, you should always consult a professional on how to execute the exercises. Once you feel safe and confident in the positions, you can create a routine that is either the same or very similar, in order to target specific muscle groups. You will see progress with the consistency of the stretches. When you are ready to begin your passive stretching routine, follow this checklist to see the best results:
- Complete a workout or warm up beforehand, so that your muscles are thoroughly warmed through and ready to stretch.
- Get out a mat or a towel, and put on loose-fitting warm clothes. It is important to stay warm throughout the stretching routine.
- Hold each stretch for 60-120 seconds, depending on how fast the muscle, joint, tendon, or ligament releases.
- Never stretch past the point of discomfort; stretching of any kind shouldn’t be painful.
- Be gentle with your body, and take it slow. You will see more progress in your flexibility through slow, consistent stretching.
- Always remember to breathe through your entire stretching routine. This will bring oxygen to the muscles, and help them to release faster. The more you breathe, the less discomfort you will feel.
Now that you know all there is to know about passive stretching, it’s time to get started! There is no better day to start stretching than today. Visit or contact your local Kika Stretch Studio on how you can start your journey to flexibility and an overall healthier lifestyle today!