Want to take your fitness journey to the next level? Try incorporating these popular ballistic stretching exercises into your fitness routine.

Ballistic stretching involves bouncing motions that stretch your bodies beyond the normal range of motion. It is more commonly used by Athletes. These stretches muscles faster and farther than static stretching, which is done slowly. Many stretches can be done in either a static or ballistic way. For instance, rather than slowly reaching for your toes, you can bounce and jerk towards them for a more ballistic stretch. Let’s find out the benefits of ballistic stretching and how you can incorporate it into your daily routine.

What is ballistic stretching?

Ballistic stretching is a form of stretching where you use bouncing or jerk-y movements to push your muscles beyond their normal range of motion. Unlike static stretching, which involves holding a position for a prolonged period, ballistic stretching involves rapid and forceful movements, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports. However, it’s generally considered less safe than static stretching because it can increase the risk of muscle strain or injury. Therefore, it’s not recommended for most people, especially those who are not properly trained or warmed up.

Ballistic stretching vs dynamic stretching: What is the difference?

People frequently mix ballistic stretching and dynamic stretching. Both methods need movement during the stretch, but they differ in certain ways.

“Ballistic stretching requires a lot of bouncing or jerking movements, whereas dynamic stretching does not include jumping or jerking, nor does it require you to force muscles beyond their natural range of motion. Arm circles are one type of dynamic stretch. Physicians tend to recommend dynamic stretching over ballistic stretching more frequently,” according to fitness expert Bhavna Harchandrai.

What are the benefits of ballistic stretching?

Here are some of the potential benefits of it and why you should include it in your fitness routine:

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1. Improves blood circulation

Ballistic stretching warms up the body with a series of difficult activities that promote blood flow throughout the body. This increases the body’s oxygen levels, allowing tissues to repair faster. Certain fitness experts believe that static stretches should be done first, followed by ballistic stretches.

2. Makes you energetic

Ballistic stretches energise the body and pick you up when you’re feeling low during the day. These stretches boost the body’s vitality reserves. Additionally, high-intensity workouts result in significant calorie burnout, which helps people maintain a healthy weight because gaining weight also makes people feel sluggish.

Also Read: Do these 5 stretches for 10 minutes daily if you want to lose weight

happy and energetic woman
Keep your energy levels high with stretching. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Increases flexibility

Sports like gymnastics, martial arts, basketball, volleyball, and soccer require ever-higher levels of flexibility. Ballistic stretching increases muscular elasticity by putting you through a variety of actions. Doing these stretches before a workout prepares the muscles for high-impact exercises. Ballistic stretches are therefore a great way to quickly warm up before physically demanding exercises.

A step-by-step guide to ballistic stretching

To perform ballistic stretches, follow these easy steps as explained by the expert.

1. Warm-up

It’s essential to warm up your muscles before engaging in ballistic stretching to reduce the risk of injury. You can do a light cardiovascular activity like marching, step touches, jogging, jumping jacks, or active stretches like side-to-side lunges for 5-7 minutes before doing ballistic stretching.

2. Choose a muscle group

Decide which muscle group you want to stretch. People usually stretch areas such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and shoulders.

3. Perform the stretch

Instead of holding a static position like in traditional stretching, with ballistic stretching, you’ll use more bouncing or jerky movements to push your muscles beyond their normal range of motion. For example, if you’re stretching your hamstrings, you might bend forward at the waist, legs straight, and then bounce gently up and down while reaching for your toes, trying to reach further each time.

4. Control the movement

Be cautious not to overdo the bouncing or jerky movements, as this can increase the risk of injury. Keep the movements controlled and within a comfortable range of motion.

5. Repeat

Perform the ballistic stretch for several repetitions, 10-15 times usually before moving on to another muscle group.

6. Cool down

After completing ballistic stretching, it is essential to cool down your muscles with some gentle, static stretching to promote blood flow and reduce muscle tension.

7. Listen to your body

Remember to listen to your body and stop ballistic stretches if you feel any pain or discomfort during ballistic stretching. It’s crucial to use proper form and technique to minimise the risk of injury.

Also you should remember that ballistic stretching may not be suitable for everyone, especially beginners or those with certain medical conditions or injuries. Consult a healthcare professional or certified fitness trainer before including any new stretches in your fitness routine.

Ballistic stretching exercises

Here are some of the popular ballistic stretching exercises:

1. Standing lunge

This stretch is very good for your quadriceps and glutes. With your arms hanging loosely at your sides or above your shoulders, maintain one foot forward. Now, extend the foot forward and quickly descend in an attempt to go beyond the range of normal movement. The forward foot’s heel should support the weight of the body while the other foot is bent behind. Stretch the opposite leg and then go back to the starting position.

2. Standing toe stretch

The hamstrings are stretched with this workout. While standing straight, begin to bounce and abruptly bend down to touch your toes many times, attempting to go beyond your natural range of motion.

Also Read: Can’t bend down and touch your toes? Here’s what’s wrong with your health

3. Sitting toe stretch

Straighten your upper body and extend your legs in front of you while sitting on a mat or floor. Now, quickly and repeatedly touch the ankles with your hands.

Who should avoid ballistic stretching?

Ballistic stretching should generally be avoided by individuals who:

1. Beginners

Ballistic stretching requires precise control and awareness of one’s body to avoid injury. Beginners may not have the necessary skills or understanding to perform ballistic stretches safely.

2. People with muscle strains or injuries

Individuals with a history of muscle strains or injuries may be more susceptible to further injury with ballistic stretching, as the rapid and forceful movements can exacerbate existing issues.

3. Certain medical conditions

People with specific medical conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or joint instability may find ballistic stretching too intense and potentially harmful to their condition.

4. Senior Citizens

Older adults tend to have less flexibility and muscle elasticity, making them more prone to injury during ballistic stretching.

5. Pregnant women

Pregnant women should avoid these stretches due to the increased risk of muscle and ligament strain during pregnancy.

Pregnant woman
Pregnant women should avoid ballistic stretching. Image courtesy: Freepik

6. People recovering from surgery

Individuals recovering from surgery should avoid ballistic stretching until they have fully healed and received clearance from their healthcare provider.

Is it safe to do ballistic stretching?

There’s a chance of injury even if this kind of stretching might help athletes. Due to the possibility of pulling or straining a muscle, ballistic stretching is generally not advised for regular persons looking to increase their flexibility or stay in shape. Muscles are stretched more delicately and safely with static stretching—no chance of pulling. Consult your physician about the risks and benefits of this approach before doing it on your own for your particular requirements. Recall that a stretch should never hurt, even if you should be able to feel it.

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