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Ballistic movement can be defined as muscle contractions that exhibit maximum velocities and accelerations over a very short

period of time. They exhibit high firing rates, high force production, and very brief contraction times. Examples of ballistic muscle movements can be observed in nature and are involved in many aspects of an animals biology including prey capture, defense mechanisms, and locomotion along with many others. The muscle contraction of a ballistic muscle movement can exhibit a muscle coactivation of [1] concurrent agonist and antagonist muscles or the characteristic triphasic agonist/antagonist/agonist [ muscle activation. The firing rates of ballistic movements are much higher than that of slow ramp movements (515 Hz). The brief agonist muscle contraction is thus followed by antagonist muscle unit activation. The degree of antagonist muscle unit activation is dependent on the task at hand unlike the first agonist muscle activation which is independent to environmental stimuli. The function of the antagonist muscle contraction is believed to control the amplitude and timing of ballistic movements. Antagonist muscle contraction may serve to prevent injury to joints by preventing the limb from overextending itself and also function to control the distance and time the limb is being moved

Application in humans
In human, ballistic movements involve spontaneous propulsion of the limbs. This can be seen in daily routines such as reach and strike reactions, which are atomic by nature. Pointing gestures and placing an object are reach reactions; they have low acceleration and deceleration. On the other hand, punching and throwing are strike reactions; they are characterized by high acceleration and deceleration. These movements have highly variable target locations, and they are referred to as ballistic in psychokinesiology. During ballistic movement an initial impulse is needed to accelerate the limb (hand/foot) toward the target, then a decelerating impulse act as a brake to stop the movement. These movements are characterized by a bell-shaped velocity profile.. Fast single joints movement in human is controlled by a series of activation of agonist, antagonist and then agonist muscles; this process is called triphasic activation. Those movements are executed with a pattern of bursts in the agonist and antagonist muscles of fairly constant duration but different amplitude Any ballistic movement involving two joints will require an agonist and an antagonist burst; this can be viewed as the building blocks for different types of ballistic movements.
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