#HealthBytes: What is ballistic stretching and how to do it?
Active and static stretches are the go-to warm-up exercises for most activities but of late, ballistic stretches have been taking the fitness world by storm. A ballistic stretch is an intense stretch where continuous bouncing movements are used to push the body beyond its normal range of motion. This article looks at the benefits and the mechanism of ballistic stretching.
Ballistic stretches use a certain amount of force to extend the muscles and tendons through a wider range of movement. Static stretches involve holding a pose for a certain length of time till the muscles are stretched or till the position is no longer comfortable. Ballistic stretches, however, rely on quick and challenging movements to stretch the muscles and tendons.
The stretches use the momentum of the moving body to force it beyond its normal range of motion. The movements most often involve bouncing into or out of a stretched position imitating a spring effect. As ballistic stretches require an additional force, the muscles exhibit more movement. This is because the sensors that signal pain are bypassed by making use of quick movements.
Ballistic stretching is intense and trains the muscles for high-impact exercises. Hence it is useful before activities like basketball, football, or gymnastics. The rigorous stretches improve blood circulation and promote faster healing of tissues. However, it is suggested that a person begins with static stretch and then moves on to ballistic exercises. The stretches also help in reducing lethargy and improving overall mood.
Ballistic stretches are useful for athletes and ballerinas but they can be an extreme mode of stretch for those who are looking for simple warm-up exercises. The stretches are also known to cause injuries, muscle weakness, and tendon tears if done without supervision. Hence, if you're looking to include ballistic stretches in your workout, consult with your doctor or trainer before getting started.