The jump

This isn’t a review for the channel four programme featuring z list celebrities attempting to throw themselves off the side of the hill. This is a public service announcement on behalf of.. well,me. I want to talk about jumping. As a kid you jump every day. Over puddles, out of trees, on trampolines etc. As a teenager you would jump in PE, or if you took part in a sport during training and games. As an adult, even an active one, it is very easy to avoid impact all together. In fact, the only thing that may get you jumping up and down is when your significant other thinks a kitchen utensil hook is an appropriate place to store the engagement ring you spent months choosing her, and is in no way at risk of getting lost as she forgets where it is and spends her mental energy on wondering why that damned baby seagull outside won’t get off the road and learn to fly…or some other completely hypothetical situation.

Why should I bother?

At one end of the spectrum, in older age, those with more lower limb strength and power are more likely to get up off the ground after a fall. While it would be prudent to not immediately start plyometric bounding and depth jumping in your 70s, there are still ways of practising jumping and landing in a safer way.

For folk who fall in the middle of the age and athletic ability spectrum, the above reason should still be enough to have you jumping regularly. In this age bracket, the risk of serious injury is lower, and so a higher level of jumping mechanics can be built on. The higher level you start with now, the more powerful you’re likely to be carried through to old age.

I am now in the high risk category for torn Achilles’ tendons. Extremely handsome Men in their 30s looking to regain past athletic prowess go back to sports they used to play and expect to be able to take part at the intensity of yesteryear, without the requisite strength and conditonioning. by adding regular exercises targeting jumping and landing mechanics you can mitigate the injury risk and make yourself a powerful and desirably distinguished lady or gentleman.

If you’re in your teens, or early 20s, I realise instant answers is what you’re after, so let me give you the headlines. Toned ass. Better at sport. Love Island.. I’m not sure the last one is a reason to jump, apart from off a cliff, but you know, I’m down with the kids because I’ve heard of it on the television box.

Below are four options for including jumps in your training programme. Do them towards the beginning of your session, after a full warm up to get the most out of them.

Countermovement jump

This is a pretty straight forward movement that nevertheless can be butchered by doing them for high reps, or simply not paying attention to take off and landing positions.

Set up with arms overhead or hands on hips.

Swing hands/drive hips back to prestretch muscles in the hips and upper leg before quickly reversing position to explode into jump. Land softly, and no deeper than take off position.

Reset and repeat for 3 sets of 6

Box jump

Similar to the countermovement jump, the box jump gives you a minimum height target. It also serves to get you better at moving from a hip extension to hip flexion position, and so carries over to running and other sports skills well. The same principles apply in that you’re looking to land in the same quarter squat position you take off in, so avoid the temptation to stack boxes and make it into a megazord ultimate idiot box(I got bored writing so felt a power rangers reference might lighten the load).

Drop jump

Now we’re moving into the realm of plyometrics(more on these next week). For anyone involved in any kind of sport, drop jumps are a fantastic way to develop reactive strength and the ability to pre activate the muscles that act upon the knee and ankle

Stand on a box 20-30cm high

Step off with foot ‘cocked’ towards knee.

As soon as you contact the ground, rebound up as explosively as possible. For runners, the main focus is on spending as little time in contact with the ground as possible. For those looking to improve vertical jump height(basketball, volleyball) a lower squat and more contact time with the ground will be needed, changing the emphasis of the exercise.

Heiden

Jumping in the frontal plan(side to side) has a lot of carry over to team sports where you are exepected to cut or side step a defender. These can also be useful to runners, as you’ll occasionally have to avoid potholes or obstables, and the ability to control any lateral movement at speed could be the difference between skipping, pixie like on to a PB and falling spectacularly.