What Is Ballistic Stretching?

If you’ve ever gotten a little tired of your static stretches and have looked up other stretching techniques to try out instead that will help enhance your physical strength and flexibility, there is a very high chance you have come across ballistic stretching at one point or another. 

What Is Ballistic Stretching?

While ballistic stretches may have started becoming much more popular over recent years, there are definitely certain types of individuals who will benefit from them much more than others, so before you start incorporating them into your exercise routine, it’s worth learning about what benefits these stretches have, and who should be performing them. 

Here is everything you need to know about these classic stretches which have remained popular ever since they first started appearing in exercise routines in the 1950s. 

How Is Ballistic Stretching Different From Static Stretching?

The main factor that sets ballistic stretches apart from traditional static stretches is how much more ‘energetic’ they are, specifically because they involve much more bouncing and are a lot faster and more urgent in their motions.

Static stretching on the other hand is all about slow and gradual movements that require the individual to place a heightened focus on the muscles stretching until they reach an uncomfortable position, and then maintaining this position so that their arms and legs can become accustomed to moving around in that way. 

While you might be sitting, standing, or lying down in a certain position for 30 seconds or a minute when stretching normally, ballistic stretching is more fast-paced, being recognized as a much more intense routine that is designed to push your body and muscles beyond their normal range of motion. 

Who Is Ballistic Stretching For?

Ballistic stretching definitely isn’t for everybody, and it would not be considered a very accessible form of exercise either because of how demanding and grueling it can be to practice. 

With that being said, it is incredibly popular among athletes and dancers since the stretches help to extend the muscles and tendons through a larger range of movement, pushing the muscles further than they should realistically be able to go.

That slightly uncomfortable pain or ache that you feel when you reach down to your toes or lift your leg up too high is caused by the inside sensors of your muscles signaling to your brain that too much tension and strain is being put on the muscle, and the whole point of ballistic stretching is to bypass these sensors entirely. 

Benefits Of Ballistic Stretching 

  • Increased range of motion – A lot of athletes will practice ballistic stretching so that they can run faster and jump further thanks to the increased range of motion that comes from pushing their muscles past the point of normal flexibility. 
  • Improved tendon elasticity – Tendon elasticity is what allows you to feel that sudden burst of speed when you kick off in a race, and ballistic stretching is a great way to improve this by loosening up the leg muscles and making them far stronger and more flexible. 
  • Less soreness – Pulling a muscle is much easier to do when you’re holding your legs and arms in an uncomfortable position in static stretching when compared to the fast and sudden movements of ballistic stretching, meaning it also results in less soreness once the exercise is over. 

Examples Of Ballistic Stretching

What Is Ballistic Stretching?

To give you a better understanding of what some ballistic stretches might look like in practice, and how they differ from static stretches, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular ones and how they are performed. 

Ballistic Toe Touch

While keeping your legs together, reach down to touch your toes as you would with a normal static stretch, but rather than holding that position once you reach the bottom, perform a little bounce just before you touch them so that you can try to reach further. 

This stretch is great for adding some flexibility to your arm muscles and improving your back flexibility by adjusting it to bend over without leading to any strain or aches. 

Ballistic Pancake

Start by sitting down with your legs split as far apart as possible. Then, try to bend forward as far as you can while keeping your legs straight the entire time. Use your arms to guide you forward by stretching them outwards as much as you can. 

Once you are as close to the ground as possible, you will then bounce back up and bend over again to try and get even closer. Repeating this multiple times can enhance a person’s tendon elasticity while also improving their posture and back flexibility. 

Ballistic Core Twist

This is probably one of the easier ballistic movements that many people perform on a daily basis without even realizing it, but it is still good for improving core strength and increasing muscle tissue temperature to prevent picking up any injuries, making it ideal for performing before a lengthy workout. 

To practice a ballistic core twist, simply use your stretched-out arms to direct your core left and right while keeping your hips planted in the same place, and try to focus on stretching your core as far to each side as you can possibly go. 

Is Dynamic Stretching The Same As Ballistic Stretching?

While people will commonly get the two mixed up, dynamic and ballistic stretching are actually very different from one another, despite the fact that they both involve a wide range of movements that are seen as more expressive than static stretching. 

The main difference is that dynamic stretches are not designed to push muscles past their normal range of motion and don’t involve any bounces or jerking in the movements, so it is simply a much more active and faster type of stretching that is actually recommended a lot by doctors. 

Summary

Ballistic stretching certainly isn’t for everyone, and should only be practiced for people who have already mastered most static stretches, but if you are an athlete or someone who could benefit greatly from pushing the flexibility of your muscles past their limit, it could be worth undertaking a few exercises.

Just make sure to always take caution and look up a tutorial for a specific stretch before you try it for yourself. 

Laura Simmons
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