PNF / Ballistic Stretching before workouts (CFTS P.34)

CFTS -Charlie Francis Training System

Charlie writes:
When properly prepared, an athlete can use PNF and Ballistic stretching to great advantage in the warm up.

Q: Could you give me some examples of ballistic stretching that would be safe and effective before speedwork sessions?

I would say leg swings would be one ballistic stretch right before you are stepping to the line to do your speed work. incase u do not know what that is it is where u stand in front of a fence and swing you leg across your body. or you can do it by swinging your leg like a kicking motion straight up.

Leg swings are great. However, you should only use them right before sprinting, since they tend to shorten your muscles. They certainly are useful as a bridge from stretching to skipping etc.

I think swings are not needed at all. Especially before sprinting. I prefer light joint rotations. The kind that dont put the sprinter at risk for microtears or injuries. I cant honestly say how many times I have witnessed leg swings done incorrectly among athletes at meets and practice. Its lot moin. It angers me. The drills cover the warmup prep for sprinting. I believe you should use light joint rotations before stretching to warmup the synovoil fluid. The fluid that allows us to stretch properly in the first place. I repeat light joint rotations. Like your waking up from a long nap. Stretching unwarmed joints is not a good idea. And why not gradually increase the stretching rate using pnf. Dont we want to avoid micro-tears while stretching. The warmup lap of 800m may not warm all the joints properly. I have heard some people suggest that joint rotations should be done even before you jog. I dont agree. But I will listen to the idea. And arent leg swings dangerous if done too agressively right before speedwork. Imagine being on a massage table and then asked to do leg swings for 15minutes. Would that make you feel better before you sprint. Heck no. I thought thats why we used drills. John smith discusses this on one of his videos. The drills are done relaxed to get you right into speedwork. Why leg swings after?

I agree with alot of what you say Tim, but I think one key point to be made here is - it is not really the method - but more the intensity or degree/rate of stretching/movement/stress etc. that is the important factor.

Apart from static stretching - I would argue, that PNF, Dynamic or ballistic could all be used - but the intensity of the stretch is the key factor IMO.
By the way I use PNF currently pre-exercise (thanks to the advice of Number 2). But micro tears can also be induced with PNF - so the stretching intensity must be controlled.

I think the key point is develop the movement range, in this manner the muscles are stretched (not to their limts and not in isloation).

Our aims are to warm-up the muscles and stretch them pre exercise - not to improve or develop the ROM - this should ONLY be attempted POST training - never pre-exercise - well intensive exercise anyway.

Incidently - while dynamic or PNF may be applciable to sprinters - is static better for distance runners pre-exercise?

Swings- if used- should never be aggressive (once you start the swing, you can’t stop) and should never be used by anyone with tightness issues. They tend to be used in the pre-comp and comp periods when the muscles are loosest.

Perfect answer. Very nice point about tight athletes.

Other than removing some of the possible soreness and residual stiffness from the muscles during a warm up is PNF really that necessary when it is more useful as a developmental method of flexibilty training? Ifthe PNF is taken quite far in a warm up then the interaction between the muscles and nerves can be disrupted and this needs time to settle down and the nerves to adjust to the new muscles lengths.

This is at the extreme end of PNF I know, but something to be aware of that during a warm up it should be just that and not trying to develop flexibility, merely get the body to its usual point of flexility and range of motion.

Tin soldier I think your referring to pnf performed incorrectly.