Dynamic vs. Ballistic Stretching
What is the difference and which one should you avoid?
So, what is the difference between dynamic and ballistic stretching? Although both methods of stretching require movement and both are usually passive methods, one is safe and one is not. Dynamic stretching refers to stretching by controlled coordinated movement with a defined range of motion. Ballistic stretching refers to stretching in uncontrolled uncoordinated movement, usually involving momentum and bouncing. As should be clear by the above definitions, dynamic stretching can be safely employed and is often recommended as a warm-up prior to sports activity. This form of stretching is ideal for pushing blood to specific muscle group and making them more elastic prior to dynamic movement. So, what about ballistic?
Many years ago, ballistic stretching was promoted. Prior to our current understanding of exercise physiology, many institutions promoted bouncing lower at the end of each stretch and utilizing momentum to force elasticity. Of course, the result was an increased risk of injury. When stretching without a defined range of motion and bouncing with momentum to increase beyond your normal elastic threshold, an individual can tear muscle and damage soft tissues.
There is often confusion between dynamic and ballistic stretching because they both involve stretching while in motion. Just remember, dynamic stretching before dynamic movement (sports or athletic activity) and ballistic stretching is never recommended for any age group of population. Many people stretch to reduce the risk of injury. Why would you ever intentionally increase your risk of injury by stretching? Maybe it is time to consider the alternatives. Static, Dynamic and PNF stretching are all beneficial and (for most populations) safe. To learn more, check out our Stretching and Flexibility Instruction certification today!