ONE GIANT LEAP
Jump to it to reduce injury risk
WHEN YOUR FOOT HITS THE GROUND RUNNING, many muscles in the legs and trunk lengthen as they contract. ‘This ‘eccentric’ contraction allows for a stronger ‘concentric’ contraction during the pushoff phase,’ explains Joseph Morley, a researcher at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, US. However, it’s also the point at which muscles are most susceptible to damage. ‘Exercises focusing on eccentric contractions can strengthen the muscles and minimise the chance of strains,’ says Morley. A stationary jump is his move of choice for working the quads, calves and trunk muscles through an eccentric range. Perform one set of 8-12 jumps, using each of the following variations:
1 / Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Flex your knees and hips and extend to jump upwards, keeping a tall posture. Land softly (balls of feet, then heels) and go immediately into the next jump.
2 / Repeat the first move, but flex your trunk slightly forward on landing to increase the eccentric activity of the erector spinae (stabilising muscles in the back). Go immediately into the next jump.
3 / Repeat the first move once more, but twist the trunk slightly to alternate sides as you land, to challenge the trunk rotators. (Don’t flex forward as well.) Take off again as you land.