Every time you hop, skip, and jump, you put a lot of pressure on your joints — namely your ankles, knees, and hips. Wear-and-tear is inevitable as you age, but you may be able to avoid injury if you take steps to protect your joints.
At Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dr. Bryan King and our team see joint injuries of all kinds, and improper jumping and landing techniques are often the culprits. Here, Dr. King explains how to jump without hurting your joints.
Jumping injuries occur suddenly or as a result of accumulative overuse. Repetitive stress wears down your joints until something gives, often to the bewilderment of the injured person, since there’s no specific event to blame. The absence of an accident or acute injury can make it hard to pinpoint the problem.
As a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, Dr. King assesses, diagnoses, and treats jumping injuries often. Here is a sample of the types of injuries you may sustain if you don’t use the proper technique when you jump:
Although everyone is vulnerable to joint problems, the more you jump, the higher your risk. Several factors can contribute to jumping-related joint injuries, including ill-fitting footwear, a new training surface area, and an increase in training intensity. But improper jumping and landing techniques are the primary cause of joint injuries.
To jump and land properly, you need to, well, jump and land properly. Pardon our circular reasoning here, but there’s simply no other way to say it.
Practicing the right form is the best way to strengthen and stabilize the support system around your joints. Learning the proper technique helps you avoid injury from both a mechanical and strength standpoint.
The first step in establishing a proper jumping technique is to stick the landing. One of the best tips athletes follow is to land quietly. If you have a mental picture of making as little noise as possible when you land, your body naturally aligns with your thoughts and adjusts your technique.
A quiet landing means you hit the ground with the balls of your feet first, and then use your hips to shift your weight back to your heels, and you use your knees to lower and absorb your body weight gently. The result is a softer landing that distributes weight evenly and smoothly, protecting your joints.
As we mentioned, the best way to protect your joints while jumping is to practice your technique. If you’re just beginning, you don’t need any special equipment or apparatus. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, placing your weight on the balls of your feet.
Before each jump, keep a mental image of your landing in mind.
Using your arms to assist your momentum, jump as high or as far as you can, and land on the balls of your feet. Bend your hips and knees to the squatting position to soften the landing.
Pay special attention to the alignment of your knees and toes. Your knees should track over the tops of your feet, but not beyond.
As you become more adept, or if you’re a well-conditioned, experienced athlete, you can practice this technique jumping on and off a sturdy box or over a hurdle.
For a more advanced move, try a double-leg jump with a single-leg landing to improve strength and balance.
Maybe you jump for a living, or you just spent the weekend playing with the kids at the trampoline funhouse. If you’re in pain, the first course of action is to rest your joints. Often, a change of activity and a little time off is all it takes for the tissue to repair itself.
However, if the pain persists, it’s best to consult with Dr. King to get a professional diagnosis. Many different conditions can cause joint pain, and his expert evaluation lets you know exactly what’s behind yours.
If Dr. King rules out arthritis and other health conditions and determines that overuse or an acute injury is to blame, he develops a personalized treatment plan to alleviate your pain and rehabilitate your joints.
This may include a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy.
If surgery becomes necessary, you’re in the best hands with Dr. King. He is one of the most sought-after orthopedic surgeons, and he specializes in minimally invasive techniques, as well as joint reconstruction and replacement.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. King, call our friendly staff today at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute.