Soldiers and Hip StretchesPhysical therapists often help patients increase muscle flexibility. There are different ways to stretch the same muscle. Which is better: passive or active stretching? This is the focus of a study from physical therapists in the military.
Two groups of soldiers were tested. One group used only passive stretching exercises. The second group did active stretching exercises. All soldiers in the study had low back pain and leg injuries. All had reduced hip extension caused by tight hip flexor muscles.
The soldiers did two hip stretching exercises each. All stretches were held 30 seconds if possible. Each stretch was done 10 times. There was a 30 second rest between stretches. Hip range of motion (ROM) was measured before the stretching program began. ROM was rechecked after three and six weeks of stretching.
The authors report that both groups had improved ROM over time. There were no real differences between the groups. It seems that active or passive stretching work equally well. The authors aren't sure this is true for older adults, since the soldiers in this study were all young. More studies are needed to compare groups of different ages.
Michael V. Winters, PT, MPT, et al. Passive Versus Active Stretching of Hip Flexor Muscles in Subjects with Limited Hip Extension: A Randomized Clinical Trial. In Physical Therapy. September 2004. Vol. 84. No. 9. Pp. 800-807.
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