Ballistic stretching gets a bad reputation for a couple of reasons. For one, the concept sounds intimidating to many people. The main reason, however, is that people who practice ballistic stretching without understanding how it works have been injured, which makes the practice sound dangerous because the stretches seem intense and even unnatural to some.
In reality, however, ballistic stretching can be extremely healthy and beneficial. Athletes of a wide variety use this form of stretching as a part of their training.
Like any form of stretching, the ballistic technique involves performing simple motions like curling the arms or reaching above one’s head. These motions loosen the muscles up gently. The ballistic component is added in as these stretches are expanded to extend muscles to their full range of motion. By bouncing or swinging the limb body part while stretching, the muscles are extended and contracting extra.
To have your life changed for the better through ballistic stretching, start by learning about the process and strategies behind the unique stretching method. Find a trainer or a specialist who knows about this form of exercise to ensure that you learn and practice the technique safely.
You will be grateful once you get started with ballistic stretching because the technique offers benefits like:
1. Makes the Muscles More Elastic
One of the basic reasons for stretching at all is that it keeps the muscles from growing tense. When muscles are tense, they fail to perform exercises safely or effectively. As a result, the muscles do not grow as efficiently. Stretching loosens muscles up by causing them to extend and contract gently before doing so more vigorously during exercise.
Ballistic stretching is an exaggerated version of stretching that relies on bouncing the muscles as stretches are performed. By bouncing or swinging a limb extensively, the muscles reach their full range of motion. Combined with stretching, the muscles expand and then contract forcefully and extensively, increasing the elasticity of the muscles overall.
2. Gives a Workout While Stretching
Typically, stretching is a gentle motion that loosens the muscles up. Ballistic stretching is more intensive, however. Through the bouncing or swinging motion associated with ballistic stretching, the muscles get a workout while also getting stretched out.
The workout accompanying the stretching enhances the stretches and increases muscle growth by challenging the muscles with exercise while making them more flexible. For people who need to increase the intensity of their workout regimen, that is good news. Many athletes use ballistic stretching for that very reason.
3. Increases Body Control
Plyometrics stretching is a popular form of ballistic stretching. As anyone who has witnesses plyometric training in action can attest, the practice requires excellent control of the body. Plyometrics involves jumping as a part of working out. Many people perform the activity by jumping on and off of stable boxes or stands very deliberately. The activity stretches the muscles and joints while challenging them both.
Of course, to successfully repeatedly and quickly jump around while stretching, a person must be coordinated. Through practicing such motions, people increase their body control. They learn exactly how to stretch their stiff muscles and move their joints in order to change positions, making them more aware of every little move they make.
As a result of this awareness and control over the body, ballistic stretching (particular through plyometrics) is popular among people must maintain strict body composure. Gymnasts, for instance, must balance in precarious positions and launch their bodies into the air while maintaining careful control of their muscles and form.
4. Improves Dynamic Flexibility
Along with gymnasts, many other athletes use ballistic stretching because it increases dynamic flexibility, which means that the body is more than just loose, it can bend beyond the typical range of motion. Through dynamic flexibility, people are able to bend, reach, and otherwise stretch their muscles farther than most. This allows someone like a dancer to be able to pose in and move through unique, almost unnatural positions. Ballistic stretching is specifically designed to increase people’s abilities to do just that: expand the range of motion.
5. Can be Used on Many Muscles and Joints
Many stretches are focused primarily on one part of the body. For instance, weight-bearing stretches are often more focused on the muscles than on the joints. Rotational stretches, likewise, focus more on the joints that the major muscles. Ballistic stretches target both, therefore increasing the intensity and impact of the stretches on the person’s overall health.
People who work their muscles and joints especially hard include:
Although athletes in these specific sports use ballistic stretches often, many other professional athletes choose to use the technique at times, too. Because the technique focuses on stretching both muscles and joints, it is commonly used for people who are in training for an athletic career and need to expand their capacities.
Athletes who have recently been injured also commonly use ballistic stretching once their physical therapy is nearly complete. The stretching technique builds up and more intensely works the recently injured area without the high impact and risks of jumping right back into whole exercises.
Tips for Practicing Ballistic Training Safely
Before reaping the benefits of ballistic training, it is important to be sure that the activity is right for you and that you perform it properly. There is, after all, a reason why ballistic training can be controversial: when poorly done, it is risky.
Don’t take risks. Stretch safely through the ballistic technique by:
Considering Important Factors
Age, size, body shape, and physical condition should all be considered before practicing ballistic stretching. An older person is out of shape, for instance, would be at risk of injury.
Warming Up Adequately
For ballistic stretching to be performed safely, the muscles and body should already be in motion. It is best to be warm and be warmed up for the activity. Try doing some cardiovascular exercises first.
Having Professional Guidance
Hire a trainer or another professional to guide you through the stretching in order to ensure you do not push yourself too far or perform the motions incorrectly and unsafely.