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What Are the Differences Between Static Stretching & Ballistic Stretching?

Flexibility training should be a regular part of your fitness plan. Daily stretching can help you increase your flexibility, improve your range of motion, prevent injury, and relieve stress. Before doing any type of stretching, warm up with at least five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise to increase blood flow to your muscles. Knowing the differences between static and ballistic stretching is key to choosing the right stretch for you and reaping the related benefits.

In static stretching, you stretch to the point that you feel a gentle pull in the belly of your muscle and then hold that position. Never stretch past the point of gentle stretching to a point where you feel pain. Static stretches should be held for 30 seconds, and each static stretch should be repeated three times. Breathe deeply as you hold your static stretch, concentrating on inhaling fully and exhaling completely.

Ballistic stretching is not stationary. In ballistic stretching, you stretch to the furthest point you can reach. At this furthest point, you then bounce attempting to force the stretch even further. For example, in a seated position with both legs stretched out in front of you, you reach for your toes, stretching as far as you can. Then you start to bounce your torso so your hands get closer to your toes.

Besides the way you perform static and ballistic stretching, one of the biggest differences in these two types of stretching is safety. Static stretching is a safe and effective way to improve your flexibility. Ballistic stretching has a high propensity for injury because of the bouncing motions that take you past your comfortable range of motion. As a result it is not recommended that you use ballistic stretching in your flexibility training, according to the website Sports Injury Clinic.

A final difference between static and ballistic stretching stems from overall approaches. The approach of static stretching is gentle, moderate and relaxing. You breathe deeply while gently holding a stretch. On the other hand, the approach of ballistic stretching is forceful, extreme and tension-inducing. Short bursts of breath result from the bouncing and attempts to force your body past its degree of flexibility. Ballistic stretching does not afford you the relaxing, stress-relieving effects that static stretching provides.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.