5 Sciatica Stretches to Relieve That Burning Pain @WomensRunning

Women’s Running



Soothe sciatic nerve pain and release tension in your lower back and hips with these 5 yoga poses.

Passive stretching: 3 examples and benefits: @ClevelandClinic


What Is Passive Stretching?

Relax into this form of stretching while a prop or partner assists you

When you think of stretching, you might picture someone sitting on the floor, legs extended, reaching for their toes. But passive stretching takes a different approach. Instead of relying on your own flexibility, you use something (or someone) else to help.

Licensed massage therapist and registered nurse DeBorah Hill, RN, LMT, explains passive stretching and how it can benefit your health.

What is passive stretching?

Most people are familiar with dynamic and static stretching. Static stretching focuses on holding a pose that stretches your muscle as far as you can. Dynamic stretching uses movements, like walking lunges or hip circles, to warm up your muscles before an activity.

Dynamic and static stretches are limited to how far you can physically move. Think of toe touches: Some people can touch their toes and beyond, while others can’t reach their knees.

Passive stretching uses other forces to stretch your muscles, rather than your own ability. “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 example, instead of touching your toes, you can perform a passive hamstring stretch. During this stretch, you lie on your back and use a rolled-up towel or strap to help you stretch the back of your thigh. 

If you’re new to passive stretching, use care. You could accidentally stretch a muscle too much and cause injury.

“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 adding passive stretching to your routine to:

Relieve stress

Unlike static or dynamic stretching, passive stretching requires your muscles to be relaxed for it to work. This release of physical tension can benefit your mental health.

“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 better than dynamic stretching at increasing 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 have mobility issues or chronic pain, other forms of stretching can be difficult. Passive stretching works for people of all ages and fitness levels. Can’t bend over or move your body a certain way? Passive stretches can work around these limitations.

Examples of passive stretching

Passive stretches can work many different muscles. Try these stretches to get started:

1. Doorway stretch

This stretch focuses on your chest and shoulders:

  1. Stand just behind a doorway.
  2. Place one foot slightly in front of the other for stability.
  3. Raise your arms to the side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees, palms facing forward like goal posts. Allow your elbows, forearms and palms to press against the doorframe.
  4. Gently lean forward, keeping your arms on the doorframe.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Rest for five seconds and repeat.

2. Standing quad stretch

This passive stretch focuses on your quadriceps, or the muscles on the front of your thighs:

  1. Stand next to a steady object, such as a table or wall, that can be used for balance.
  2. Loop a rolled-up towel or fitness strap around your right ankle.
  3. Hold the other end of the towel or strap with your right hand.
  4. Place your left hand on the table or wall for balance.
  5. Slowly bend your right knee and pull your right foot up toward your buttocks using the towel or strap.
  6. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat on the opposite leg.

3. Towel hamstring stretch

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

  1. Lie on your back, with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Slowly raise one leg up toward the ceiling without bending your knee, keeping your leg relaxed.
  3. Hook the towel or strap behind your hamstring or calf or under the arch of your foot, depending on what’s comfortable for you.
  4. Using your towel or strap, gently pull your leg towards you until you feel the stretch.
  5. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
  6. Switch legs.

A stretching routine is worth it

Taking a few minutes a day to stretch has big benefits, from preventing injuries to reducing joint pain. And if other forms of stretching haven’t worked for you, passive stretching is worth a try.

“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.”

What Happens When You Stretch? @Yoga_Journal

For years we were told that we were rubber bands—that if we didn’t stretch we’d turn crusty and snap from disuse. Then we were told that tension was good and that if we were overstretched, we’d be akin to a loose and useless rubber band. And now you might be feeling more like a yo-yo than a rubber band. 

So what’s the actual deal with stretching? What does it do for runners? And when should it be utilized?  Well, that depends on what type of stretching you’re talking about. 

Static vs. Dynamic Stretching

In regards to the rubber band analogy, David Behm, professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland, describes stretching to be more of a Goldilocks scenario: “You want a tighter but not too tight muscle and tendon,” he says. Static and dynamic stretching serve different purposes in helping your body reach that homeostasis needed to keep running efficiently.  

Static stretching usually involves moving a joint as far as it will comfortably go and then holding it. A static hold can last 30 seconds or more. It’s a very effective way to increase range of motion, relax muscles, and prevent post-exercise stiffness and soreness. Hurdler stretches or kneeling hip flexor stretches are considered static. 

Dynamic stretches are controlled, active movements aimed at helping your muscles rehearse the type of movement they’ll be doing while running. This kind of stretching activates the muscle, causing it to contract and physically warm up. “It also warms up and prepares the nervous system by increasing its activity in anticipation of the activity,” says Behm. Walking lunges, leg swings, and heel to sky pulses are all examples of a dynamic stretch. 

But stretching isn’t just about your muscles and tendons. A study, published recently in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, found that stretching can also lower blood pressure by physically stretching the blood vessels. The authors found that stretching was more effective in doing so than walking was, a common intervention prescribed for people with hypertension. 

When Should Runners Stretch?

When just fitting the run into your schedule is hard enough, you might be tempted to cut corners in your warm-up and cool-down routines. But here’s why you should consider keeping up stretching. 

Stretching Before a Run

Stretching as part of a warm-up seems to be where the most confusion comes in. It’s a common question: Should you stretch before running? 

Static stretching, when held in long durations, can actually cause you to tense up and get tighter, which is not what you want right before going for a run. “A static stretch would be great if we were about to go hold a static position for an hour. But when we’re running we’re about to go do repeated muscle firing for a set duration. We need to be getting our bodies ready for that physiological movement, not a 30 second static hold,” says Mackenzie Wartenberger, head coach of the University of Wisconsin’s women’s cross country team and assistant track and field coach.

Instead she recommends focusing on dynamic stretches as part of your warm-up routine. The idea is to push your range of motion. “It’s all about pushing right to the point where you can feel it — it should feel a little bit like you’re on the edge of that range of motion—and then immediately backing off,” she says. That process should be repeated three to five times, aiming to go two percent deeper on each repetition. “That contraction or extension depending on what movement you’re doing that’s rapid and repeated, warms your muscles up and it gets your muscles and tendons firing.”

Nell Rojas, a strength and running coach and pro runner herself, agrees that dynamic stretching should be incorporated into the mobility work in a warm-up. “It kind of tricks your muscles, neuromuscularly, to relax,” she says. “You’re not getting any lengthening in your muscles, but your body will be able to relax a little bit.” 

Behm’s research has showed that some static stretching in a warm-up is fine. Some coaches like to incorporate a static hip stretch into the warm-up, for example. “If static stretching is incorporated within a full warm-up, there are trivial effects on performance,” he says. “Static stretching can decrease muscle and tendon injuries, especially with explosive actions, but stretching does not decrease the incidence of all cause injuries.”