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Resistance to Ballistic Stretching

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Hi all,

After reading and hearing from some of you on the forum, I've tentatively started experimenting with ballistic stretching with that voice in my head echoing in the background, "Ballistic stretching is bad for you!"

My personality in general is one of jumping in to try something, then asking questions later. Also, I have quite good body awareness from over a decade of full-time training with a kind of Wing Chun that focuses primarily on relaxation as a way of generating power. So I personally feel comfortable experimenting with ballistic stretching… so far so good, DOMS etc. :)

I'm a squash coach though so my work involves human movement of all different levels, which includes general fitness & stretching. If a client were to ask me about ballistic stretching I would like to be able to give him or her more than just,

"It's a myth that ballistic stretching is bad for you."

I've read and watched almost everything on the forum but so far I haven't been able to find anything that provides what I'm after… is there anything?

From what I understand, Craig introduced ballistic stretching to the other members with his Chinese martial arts training background, with Kit & others jumping on board seeing positive results. However, is there any history of progression which reflects a change of thinking on this? Or did you guys never buy into the myth (so there is nothing to explain)?


P.S. I was going to ask all this then decided it wasn't necessary. But after chatting with my Mum on Skype this morning I promised her that I would ask! :) … I'm 35 years old… :) 

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If you coach people get this book

"mel siff facts and fallacies of fitness" 

It has a whole chapter on ballistic stretching as well as other interesting things related to fitness. Mel Siff if you don't know is considered one of the top researchers in the world regarding training.

I did a personal research project of reading every single injury case report I could find on stretching. I could find injuries for static stretching, partner stretching and yoga I couldn't find a single report for ballistics, Not saying they don't exist but I covered a couple of thousand papers.

The easiest way to get around peoples resistance to ballistic stretching is to call it pulsing. Most people don't have a clue on what ballistic stretching is and various modalities of applying they just hear the word ballistic and think "Ballistics?! That sounds like something a gun would do, must be dangerous" 

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If it helps, I've been teaching ballistic stretching to all kinds of people, sometimes it has been the very first thing I've taught to a sedentary public servant over 40. The only injuries (and injuries isn't even the right word, more like very minor tweaks) that have ever happened that I'm aware of were with advanced athletes who were pushing limits of intensity, hundreds or thousands of reps while already exhausted from other training or life things. This would also happen with any other mode of training. On the flip side, the amount of full tears I've seen from static stretching, loaded stretching, yoga, etc is very high.

My ballistic stretching program is the most downloaded program I have. I've not had a single report if injury from any of the people using it. I have had an abundance of emails from many users saying that following the program actually healed their injuries.

It is simply another method of training. Like all methods of physical work, it can be made too intense for the level of the person practicing. 

Perhaps you can simply repeat these stories to your clients, it may ease any fear they have (do they actually have any or are you projecting it on to them?), Or just not give the practice a label ("ok follow me and do this exercise"). I had no issue getting loads of people in a globo gym doing ballistic stretching, I did it every day with all my clients for an entire year.

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@jordan Yes, I have.

@Emmet Thanks for the book suggestion, I'm looking forward to having a look. Any idea if there is a digital version?

@Craig Thanks for your thoughts. Re projecting; not sure, maybe, maybe not.

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You have to look at top athletes to see what the body is capable of. What pops into my mind My assumption is that it's only unsafe because people don't understand the details of it. It's like trying to drive cars at fast speeds and only have half the bolts on the wheels tightened properly. Is driving the car fast the issue? The majority of people don't dedicate themselves to finding what's really up and there's alway cognitive bias in play.

Another resource: Dr Stoxen's Integrated Spring-Mass Model.

I'm interested in how everything interacts for you, how's it going so far?

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How everything interacts? …I've only been going for one month so not much to tell, however, ballistic stretching has become more prominent. Now I'm trying to let my body figure out how often I can/should also do a contract-relax session.

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