What is Ballistic Stretching?
You may have heard of this new trend in stretching, but is it safe? Effective? Sure it has some drawbacks, but ballistic stretching may be exactly what you need to improve your flexibility. Ballistic stretching is like other types of stretching, except with the addition of movement which helps you get deeper in your stretches. Sound like a good thing? It definitely can be!
Muscle recovery is a multi-pronged approach. How you stretch, warm-up / down, fuel your body, and stay hydrated all impact the ways you can feel after working out. If you neglect this step, you’re more prone to injury and might even stop seeing the results you’re after because your muscles won’t be performing at their best. Ultimately this will hinder reaching your fitness goals, so recovery is paramount. That's why we’re sharing the top tips & techniques to make sure you recover like a pro, so you can stay on top of your workout game and your health.
There are three primary types of stretching:
- Static: Wondering what is the difference between static and ballistic stretching? Static is essentially the “freeze” pose, static stretching calls for holding still in position for a certain amount of time.
- Dynamic: Similar to ballistic stretches in the way that it includes movement, but without pushing your muscles outside of their comfort zone.
- Ballistic: Ballistic stretches are designed to push your muscles slightly past their maximum range of motion. The intention is to ultimately increase overall flexibility and range of movement.
Advantages of Ballistic Stretching
There are many primary benefits of incorporating a ballistic stretching routine into your fitness regimen. First and foremost, it can help improve dynamic flexibility. The more you move your body in new ways, the more you can create muscle memory to allow your muscles to have the flexibility to move you in new ways. This helps improve your muscles and joints range of motion.
As your body warms up and your flexibility expands, this can help prepare your body for explosive movements like those in a Tabata workout. Pushing the body beyond the usual range of motions can make dynamic stretching drastically more effective while preventing injury. It can also boost the motor performance of muscles, which will enhance your ability to train effectively and give a leg up in any sport or activity.
Disadvantages of Ballistic Stretching
While ballistic stretching has proved effective in many scenarios, there are some downsides if it is not done properly. If you are not properly aware of your body’s limits or not warmed up properly ballistic stretching exercises may lead to increased risk of injury. Additionally, some trainers have cited that because of the active nature of ballistic styles it doesn’t help reduce muscle soreness like other types of static stretching. Some things to consider before pushing it too far:
- Consult a fitness professional to ensure you’re doing them properly: It’s easy to mess up ballistic stretching if you are starting from scratch on your own.
- Don’t perform ballistic stretching exercises if you are already injured. This can potentially exacerbate an existing muscle tear or fracture.
- Push yourself, but slowly. Don’t expect to gain peak flexibility the second you start your ballistic stretching routine. Pushing yourself one day at a time is the key to making this regimen work for you and help you achieve your goals.
Ballistic Stretching Examples
Good news: our fitness experts have put together some great exercises for you to start your ballistic stretching routine with to help you get the most out of it while avoiding injury. Pick and choose from some of these dynamic moves to get yourself started:
- Start by gripping a stable surface and ensuring you have enough room for your leg to swing back and forth without hitting anything.
- Alternate swinging legs back and forth on each side, aiming to kick higher each time.
- Try walking lunges and push yourself down further each time to get a stretch and engage your quad muscles.
- Note that lunges are also an easy way to bulk & build muscle at home so you can continue boosting your metabolism with additional lean muscle mass.
Side Arm Swings
- Loosen up shoulders and rotator cuffs by swinging your arms in circles.
- Alternate arms and rotate forwards and backwards, full 360*.
Seated Toe Stretch
- This ballistic hamstring stretch invites you to ultimately push your fingers over your toe tops.
- Begin with your feet outstretched in front of you and seated flat on the ground. Extend your back and body over your legs, and pulse. Aiming to reach your toes and eventually move your hands over your feet.
- Ballistic stretching to loosen up your chest and upper back?! Yes, please.
- Stand straight up to start this stretch and begin by doing small shoulder shrugs, going into a circular motion forwards, then backwards as you shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, move them backwards and end at your chest.
- Perform the superman stretch safely by making sure you are laying on a flat surface and supporting your low back by squeezing your glutes.
- Lying on your stomach in prone position, tighten your body with your arms facing forwards to bring your body up.
Standing Toe Stretch
- Use the ballistic spin on this traditionally static pose to reach further than you have before.
- Pulse downwards towards your toes as you bend at the waist, with your knees straight but not locked. Do tiny pluses and do not push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Standing 90° Hamstring Stretch
- Do the standing ballistic hamstring stretch with your leg propped 90 degrees in front of you.
- You can use a couch, fence or any other stable prop that you can comfortably swing your leg up onto.
Open Chest Dancers’ Stretch
- Do an open arm chest stretch by bringing your head down with your shoulders towards your chest.
- Follow this curled inward motion by lifting the head and neck back, bringing the shoulder blades close together on your back and then down to expand the chest.
Support Your Fitness Routine with Ballistic Stretching & Complete Nutrition
Ballistic stretches can be safe as long as they’re done properly and in a controlled manner. Complete nutrition plays just as important of a role that stretching does in your fitness routine. In order to fully take advantage of ballistic stretching, you need to make sure you are hydrated and take the right kinds of protein powder to fuel your workout. The right nutrition also helps your body recover while preventing injury and muscle soreness. Less recovery time means you can go back to hitting it hard each, stretching further and hitting all your goals.