5 Passive Stretching Exercises That Can Reduce Muscle Stiffness And Heart Disease Risk
Stretching is great for your body, but did you know there are many varieties of stretching? There’s active, passive, dynamic, ballistic, and active isolated stretching - and all these come with their own sets of benefits. A recent study in The Journal of Physiology revealed that at least 12 weeks worth of passive stretching can not only reduce stiffness in the body but also reduces the risk of vascular diseases like stroke, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Clearly then, passive stretching is an extremely beneficial form of stretching and you need to pick it up to gain said benefits. For those who don’t know, passive stretching involves you remaining in one position and stretching your muscles through external pressure put by a partner, an accessory or a prop. The following are some easy passive stretching exercises you can start with.
1. Neck stretch
- Roll up a towel, lie down and place the towel under the neck where it naturally bends.
- Gently tip your chin back and stay in this position of five or 10 minutes.
- Feel the stretch in the muscles on the front and sides of your neck.
- Repeat this stretch twice a day to relieve your neck muscles, especially if you work on a computer all day.
2. Quad stretch
- Lie flat on your stomach and fold your arms under your forehead to support your head.
- Your partner should grab your left leg around the ankle and gently lift it up to move it towards the left buttock.
- Push against this movement for five seconds to build resistance and feel your quadriceps stretch.
- Relax for five seconds, then repeat three times.
- Repeat with the right leg.
3. Butterfly stretch
- Lie flat on your back with your arms on the side.
- Press the soles of your feet together and put your knees slightly apart.
- Your partner should hold your knees and gently push them out and down towards the floor.
- Push back to create resistance against this movement for five seconds, then relax for five.
- Repeat the stretch four more times.
4. Back stretch
- Roll up a towel, yoga mat or use a foam roller or noodle.
- Lie down and place the roll under the shoulder blades, roughly around the middle of the back.
- You can also place a roll under the neck for support if required.
- Rest your arms on the floor at a 45-degree angle away from your body, and hold this position for five minutes at most.
- Repeat twice a day to stretch out the back and chest muscles.
5. Chest stretch
- Sit straight with your legs relaxed in front of you.
- Your partner should kneel on one leg while supporting your back with the lower part of the other leg.
- Raise your arms up at shoulder level.
- Your partner should now grab your elbows and gently pull them back towards themselves.
- The muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back will stretch.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, then relax and repeat five more times.