Active vs Passive Treatment: Which Is Better?

Active Treatment vs Passive Treatment

We often come across people wondering which is better when it comes to physiotherapy: active treatment or passive treatment?

To help answer these questions, we will explain what they are, what’s better and worse, and when is the best time to change gears from passive to active.


One, Or Both?

A good therapist will incorporate a healthy mix of passive and active treatments tailored to your specific condition and requirements so that you get the best outcomes.

One is not necessarily better than the other, but each are more effective at the right stages of rehab and treatment. 


Active Treatments

When we talk about active treatment, we are talking about body movement - it’s when you’re doing something physically, like strength exercises or being on a treadmill.

Your therapist might still have their hands on you, but you’re the one that is physically moving. Stretches, strength exercises, stability exercises are are all part of active treatment, as well as sport-specific or work-specific exercises. 

Active treatment is really important in the middle to later stages of rehab, or if your pain has been persistent for longer than three months.

Passive Treatments

Passive treatment includes massage, dry needling and joint mobilisations (among other things). 

It doesn't mean that active treatment is better than passive treatment (or vice versa) - the truth is there’s a role for both of those types of treatments to help you get better.

The magic is in the timing and application (that's the art of what we do!) 

Passive treatment doesn't require you to do anything, therapists are in control during this type of treatment getting their hands in there or using aides like needles, cups or tape.


Early Stages of Rehab

In early stages of injury,  passive treatment (with a little bit of active treatment) is incorporated.

As rehab progresses, passive treatment should fade away and active treatment takes over as the predominant approach.


Late Stages of Rehab

By the end stages of your rehab when you’re nearly back to your full functional capacity, there should be very little passive treatment.

You should be able to actively participate during this phase, such as doing exercises on your own or in a supervised setting, to get you back to your normal capacity.


Choosing What Treatment Is Best For You

If you want to know more about active and passive treatment, feel free to reach out - we will be more than happy to talk about the best treatment suitable for your needs, and point you in the direction most appropriate for you!