Wondering if ballistic stretching is for you? Fortunately ballistic stretching can produce gains in dance, gymnastics and aerial. This article will give you some ballistic stretching examples and when to do them.
Flexibility VS Range Of Motion
Range of motion (ROM) is the degree of movement that occurs at a given joint. It is determined by each joint’s unique anatomical structure and the movements required at that joint. This anatomical structure provides stability and structure to the body, and allows for everyday movement.
The ROM is determined by a number of anatomical, biomechanical and physiological factors such as shape of bones involved, the connective tissues (joint capsule and ligaments) which stabilize and restrict joint movement to a safe range, muscle mass and neurological tissue.
This video perfectly demonstrates range of motion.
Flexibility is the ability of the soft tissue structures (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) to elongate smoothly and easily through the available ROM.
What Is Ballistic Stretching?
Ballistic stretching includes bouncing movements which may increase muscle temperature greater than static stretching. Siatras et al. (33)
People often confuse ballistic stretching with dynamic stretching. While both techniques involve movement during the stretch, they are different. Dynamic stretching doesn’t push muscles past their normal range of motion and there is no bouncing or jerking involved.
To begin ballistic stretching you first need to start with a static stretch. From this point, you would gently pulse trying to get yourself deeper in the pose.
Ballistic Stretching Examples & Exercises
Ballistic stretching the hamstrings can be achieved by folding forward and pulsing to try and touch your toes.
Cockroach, is another ballistic stretching example that works the entire posterior of the body. This is performed by laying on the floor and raising an opposite arm to the leg to the sky and repeat on the other side.
Trunk lifter. Begin with your body facedown on the floor. You will need either a prop or person to prevent your legs from lifting while performing this this exercise. Place your feet under your prop, it could be a lounge or mat, lift the chest away from the floor as far as you can. Pulse in this position.
Pulsing in the splits is another form of ballistic stretching. This looks like a static split then the subject gently applies pressure in the hips in order to try and get the groin closer to the floor.
This can be used for front splits and middle splits. But I will say to take this with great caution.
If you are looking for more exercises check out my splits flexibility routine here.
Who Should Use Ballistic Stretches?
Ballistic stretching allows the body to increase it’s range of motion and is particularly suited to ballet dancers and gymnasts.
A clinical study by the Scandinavian journal of medicine in sports studied the effects of static stretching and ballistic stretching on ballerinas.
Ballistic stretching decreased muscular fatigue in ballet dancers, although static stretching did not. Therefore, no static stretching should be performed before strength performance. However, ballistic stretching may decrease acute muscular fatigue in ballet dancers.
For aerialists, this means that if we incorporate ballistic stretching into our workouts we can decrease fatigue as our movements, postures, and strength needed to complete tricks require a large range of motion similar to ballet.
When Should I Do Ballistic Stretching?
The study by the Scandinavian journal of medicine in sports concluded that:
Ballistic stretching may have a positive warm-up effect on muscular endurance in a highly flexible population, as we found a decrease in muscular fatigue after ballistic stretching in ballet dancers only.
To sum it up, you can stretch ballistically before your aerial routine or work out as it may help with endurance. If you ballistically stretch after your routine you can increase your flexibility and keep your body warmer so you can then move into static stretching.
What are your thoughts? Are you going to integrate ballistic stretching into your routine?
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Issue: Volume 30(11), November 2016, p 3220-3227
Acute Effects of Static vs. Ballistic Stretching on Strength and Muscular Fatigue Between Ballet Dancers and Resistance-Trained Women
Stretching for Dancers, The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.