Elastic Deformation

Deformation is defined as a change in shape. When a force is applied to elastic materials or objects like springs, they can change shape. They can stretch, compress or bend, which can easily be seen with a spring.

Stretching, Compressing and Bending


An elastic object stretches when it is pulled.

Metallic spring in a stretched position with arrows at both ends indicating tension.

  • Pulling both ends of the spring


An elastic object compresses when it is squashed.

A metallic spring being compressed between two opposing arrows, indicating force applied from both ends.

  • Pushing both ends of the spring


When multiple forces act on an object like a spring, it can cause the ends to bend past each other.

A metallic spring being pressed down from the top, indicated by two vertical arrows pointing towards its centre, with an upward arrow in the middle suggesting potential release or rebound.

However, this bending concept also applies to less elastic objects.

Elastic and Inelastic deformation

There are two types of deformation:

1. Elastic deformation – The object returns to its original shape. For example, when you stretch a rubber band a little and release it, the band returns to its original shape.

2. Inelastic deformation – The object does not return to its original shape, it stays deformed.

The greater the force applied, the more an object deforms. For instance, the more you pull a rubber band, the further it stretches. However, after applying too much force, the object cannot return to its original shape. We call this point the elastic limit.