Monday Rehab: Box Jumps!

Oh the Box Jump, one of the most common exercises guaranteed to produce a viral video……

If you do a search on youtube for Box Jump Fails, up pops an endless supply of people attempting what you can already tell is going to end in an accident.  Yet the box jumps continue without any consideration for what their real purpose is or how to properly execute them.

So today we dive into the box jump, but first, just one more video….

What is the purpose of a box jump?

This question will elicit a lot of different answers, but in my world they are all about proper jumping and landing mechanics, extension, absorbing force and getting the most out of it while staying safe!  Yes, box jumps are not about jumping onto a box 100ft in the air, but somehow along the way that is what started happening (thus the videos).

What does a proper box jump look like?

What are some examples of poor technique?

There are several reasons these two attempts are bad.  The first only transfers the feet to the box, the body at no point extends upward.  This is one of the most common landing positions I see.  Now, if you can deep squat well, it may not look that bad.  But considering that 99% of the clients I see are unable to execute a deep squat when they first come in, you can see how landing in that position can lead to injury.  In the second one my chest falls forward and I jump down too quickly.  This throws off the center of balance again resulting in a potential injury.  Other items that lead to an unsuccessful box jump:

  • The box height is too high
  • Jumping to an unstable surface, like putting weight plates on top of a box or jumping onto something that does not have a stable base
  • Landing hard, just thinking about it makes my joints hurt!

So what are the keys to executing a picture perfect box jump?

  • First, proper squat mechanics would be a good start.  This is important not just for loading the jump, but also for landing.  The ability to absorb the landing is essential and that requires good hip and knee alignment, dorsiflexion, core stability and weight transfer.  These happen to be all the same demands of a good squat!
  • Land quietly, simple as that.
  • Extend the hips, you’re not just transferring your feet to the box, you want your entire body to transfer!
  • Step down carefully, your knees will thank me later 🙂
  • And remember, the box jump is not about getting your feet to highest box possible, it’s about transferring your body to the box and absorbing the landing!

And one final note, when I program these I tend to limit the consecutive reps.  This is definitely an exercise that requires great form and if you try to do too many in a row, at some point you will fatigue.  Take your time, be diligent in your form!

-S

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