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Static, Dynamic, and Ballistic Stretching; What’s the Difference?

When you think about stretching, the standard workplace or exercise stretches come to mind.  There are, however, three different types of stretching that can help improve your overall wellness, reduce pain, and add flexibility.

Static Stretching

Static stretching is what people typically think about when flexing comes to mind.  Static stretching is when you hold a position for 30 to 60 seconds like a typical leg or arm stretch.  Stretching this way allows the muscles and connecting fascia tissue to lengthen.

Although common, static stretching may not be the best for optimal performance.  Because the muscles lengthen along with resting muscle fibers, it causes a decrease in muscle excitability.  The muscles need that tension to perform at their best.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching consists of active movements where the muscles and joints go through a full range of motion.  The difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching is the length of time you hold a position.  With dynamic stretches, the stance lasts for two to three seconds.

Dynamic stretches can relieve tension in muscles and produce more range of motion without losing the static energy in the muscles for performance.  Dynamic stretching is often done before athletic activity and can be as simple as arm circles or walking lunges.

You can do dynamic stretches:

  • Before cardio
  • Before sports
  • Before weight lifting
Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic stretching is another type of stretch that has gained popularity with athletes.  Ballistic stretching differs from dynamic stretching because it activates the muscles through quick, jerky stretching.

Although many of the stretches are the same as static and dynamic stretches, these quick bouncing movements differ from the slow, deliberate stretching of the static and dynamic methods.  There are varying opinions on the safety of ballistic stretching.

Basketball players, football players, martial artists, and dancers use ballistic stretches to improve range of motion and enhance performance. Ballistic stretching extends the muscles and tendons through extra force creating, a great range of motion.

Static, dynamic, and ballistic stretching all use different techniques that produce different results.  Assess your fitness goals and then talk to a trained professional who specializes in these techniques.

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