Ballistic Stretching: Why You Shouldn't Do it
Ballistic stretching refers to an uncoordinated stretch that utilizes momentum and bouncing motions to improve muscle elasticity. Throughout the years, the theory of ideal forms of stretching has changed. Prior to our current level of biomechanical and physiological understanding of muscle structure, many fitness enthusiasts advocated ballistic stretching. We have all heard the stories of the martial arts student who was told to jump and land in the splits to improve their flexibility. Or, that they would be pushed down into the splits. Many fitness classes recommended swing kicks to improve hamstring flexibility. 'Just keep your leg straight and kick as high as you can until you can kick higher. So what if a muscles tears, it happens to everyone - that's how you get flexible.'
Of course, this is inappropriate, and even vaguely amusing to remember now. But, think about how many injuries have been caused by supposed 'traditional' stretching methods. 'Keep your legs straight, reach for your toes and bounce your way down until you are there.' Today the very thought makes us cringe.
Alternatively, traditional static stretching with measured pauses is a great means to flexibility that is safe for all ages. Dynamic stretching is ideal for stretching prior to athletic activity and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching is a great way to improve flexibility utilizing isometric contractions. As you can see, there are many avenues for stretching that do not include ballistic movement.
Whether you are wanting to learn about active or passive stretching--ASFA® has the solution. Maybe your interest lies in PNF, Dynamic or Static stretching. Maybe your are interested in learning about the differences in results between unilateral and bilateral stretching. Whatever your interest, ASFA® makes learning about safety and helping prevent injury by improving flexibility easy and convenient.
Test today and learn about correct methodology, safety and misconceptions about stretching and flexibility with ASFA's Stretching and Flexibility Instruction Certification!
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