Even though I am all about the active flexibility, passive stretching is great to include in your training as well!
~Is passive stretching okay to do?~
When I work with students for an extended amount of time, this question is bound to come up sooner or later. Because so much of my flexibility training is active, my students will wonder if passive stretching is okay. And my answer is "yes, absolutely, yas"! I love doing passive stretching. I normally do passive stretching after I run and when I do little stretching throughout the day.
~When should I stretch passively?~
Like I said above, I stretch passively in two situations: after I run and when I do little stretching throughout the day. After I go on runs, my legs are extremely tight. Strenuous exercise will tighten up and shorten the muscles. It is of the utmost importance that I stretch my muscles after my run, specifically my legs. But because my muscles are exhausted, I do not want to push the active flexibility too much. If I were to do that, I could possibly push a stretch too far or strain something. So instead, I do passive stretching: lots of hamstring, quad, hip, and glute exercises.
The other time I do passive stretching is when I do little stretches throughout the day. I probably do about six little flexibility exercises throughout the day: calves, hip flexors, etc. All of these exercises I do are passive because I know I only have about one minute to execute them, and my body is not insanely warm. I prefer to use active stretching when I am training or sitting down for a long period of time to stretch.
~10 minute passive stretch~
As I stated above, there are two instances where I practice passive stretching: after runs and little stretching during the day. In addition to those two times, probably once a week, I take about 10 minutes and do a passive stretching routine. I usually will do this when my body is feeling extra tight. This might be due to a big workout I had or a busy day. The stretches I do are very basic, yet super effective. I think what can make passive stretching not effective is poor technique. Sometimes when doing passive stretching, it is easy to be lazy with form or not think about technique. Even though that might be tempting, it is still super important to remember good technique. You can have a "chill" and "relaxed" stretching session, while still maintaining good form.
I uploaded a new video on my Vimeo account (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility) that is a ten minute, chill, passive flexibility routine. Remember, I am always a fan of the idea of a little bit of stretching is better than not stretching at all. If you have not moved your body at all one day, try this routine out. It is a passive flexibility routine, and can still be effective, as long as you have good technique when executing it. Try it out, or use it as a "pre warm up" to your warm up for training.
Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )