Static, Ballistic Or Dynamic?

As anyone who's ever tried can tell you, exercising without stretching out and loosening up can lead to muscle pulls or worse. That leaves you with (at least) 3 options. There's static stretching which is the mild against-the-joint pressure you applied in high school gym class. Or you can do a series of quick, exaggerated movements that mimic the task about to be performed. That's dynamic stretching. The other choice is ballistic stretching. This incorporates bouncing and other repetitive movements with static stretching.

A study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Condition Research can help you narrow down your choices. While static and ballistic leg stretching did not inhibit vertical jump height or torque output from quadriceps or hamstring muscles, both techniques slightly decreased overall lower extremity power. That's not terrific news if you plan on doing squats or a mile run. Choosing dynamic stretching is the way to avoid this loss of power.

The Bigger Picture: Throughout these tests on 24 trained athletes, no significant differences in stretch protocols were recorded between the sexes. So whether you're a man doing resistance training or a woman getting ready to ride a stationary bike, dynamic stretching before training offers insurance against pulls and strains while helping you save all available power for the task to be performed. Give dynamic stretching a tryout in your gym to see if you notice a positive difference during workouts.
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