Definition: Active Stretching

Active Stretching: An example of this method of active flexibility stretching is doing high kicks with the leg. This is the type of flexibility exercise has more potential for muscle tears and soreness than passive or partner stretching, which is the practice of having a relaxed limb moved beyond its normal range of motion with the assistance of a partner.

Active stretching uses agonist and antagonist muscles. Agonist muscles are whichever muscle is contracting muscle and the opposing muscles are called antagonist muscles. When agonist muscles contract, contraction of the opposing antagonist muscles is inhibited, which means one muscle contracts and the other relaxes. But that is only true to a certain point because there are nerve endings in each muscle which monitor the change in length of the muscle and the rate of change. If a muscle is jerked too hard or too fast, muscle spindles activate a protective reflex contracting the opposing muscle muscle. While necessary for the protection from injury of muscles in sports and normal everyday life, this protective reaction makes effective stretching more difficult.


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