Image by Pauline Loroy

Passive Stretching

Passive stretching of the dog is mainly performed on the limbs but can also be performed on the dogs neck and trunk. These stretches are performed slowly and the dog is given time to adjust to the feeling.  Stretching of the limb is held for a short amount of time and the duration slowly increases as the dog gets used to the stretches and as the muscles relax. Many dogs enjoy passive stretching and will help when in the stretching position. 

Passive stretching aims to help improve mobility and flexibility within the muscles, reduce stiffness and to help relieve discomfort. These benefits occur due to physiological changes within the muscle tissue when the limbs are stretched. Over time the dogs stretching capacity will increase as their muscles relax and the fibers within them stretch. As the muscle fibers stretch the muscle length will increase which results in more mobile and subtle muscle tissue. 

Passive stretching can also be performed using equipment such as wobble cushions, peanut balls, small steps or stools, wobble boards, rocker boards, inflatable bones, pods and donuts, and balance pods and discs. These pieces of equipment should only be used for dogs that have a good fitness and balance and are in pre-habilitation. 

A demonstration of a forelimb passive stretch
A demonstration of a neck and trunk passive stretch
A demonstration of a hindlimb passive stretch