As you would expect I get a lot of emails from people about their vertical jump training and sadly one of the more common themes is questions from people who have injured themselves. Injuries are unfortunately an all too common reality for most hard training athletes, especially those involved in the high impact, highly intense pursuit of a big vertical jump.
Vertical jump training IS hard on the body. It IS hard on the joints, and let's face it, doing the little things to help prevent injuries like a proper warm up and cool down, as well as other preventative measures such as stretching, foam rolling, icing etc are usually the first things people skip over when life gets short of time.
All in all, unless you are very lucky, pretty resilient, (or happen to be using the best vertical jump program that modifies your training loads and frequency according to your overall workload - thus drastically minimizing your chances of getting an injury), there is a good chance you will wind up with some sort of injury at some point in time.
Now generally speaking there are really only two types of injuries you can sustain. There is the acute injury which is when a specific incident occurs to create an immediate or near immediate form of trauma. This type of injury includes things like sprained ligaments when you land awkwardly, or broken bones when you fall off your bike.
Then there are the other types of injuries that tend to creep up on you. These are often described as overuse injuries. This includes things like Jumpers Knee or stress fractures which tend to build up over time.
To add to the confusion it isn't always as clear cut as to what sort of injury you have. For example you may have a minor foot injury that isn't too painful but in small ways is changing the way you are landing as you run and jump. Over time this might cause your tendons and ligaments in your knee to become stressed trying to compensate and all of a sudden for no obvious reason you tear an ACL. In an instance like this the foot was the initial overuse problem, but ultimately it manifested into something more acute.
A good example of this type of thing is former NBA MVP Derrick Rose's torn ACL being a result of his battles with turf toe during that season. There was a lot of speculation that the turf toe he battled may have made his knee far more susceptible to the tear that in hind site completely changed his career trajectory.
So what is the point of all of this talk of injuries? Well I have been thinking recently about how you can choose to respond to an injury. In many ways it is like the flight or fight response. You can either view an injury as an excuse to slack off, or you can view it as an opportunity to work on neglected areas. Obviously the approach I prefer is to work on the neglected areas.
This is particularly important for athletes with overuse injuries like jumpers knee. If you don't address the underlying issues then even though the injury may heal, the problem hasn't really gone away and often you will be setting yourself up for a recurrence.
So what sorts of things can you do when you are injured? The most important thing to take into consideration is to choose things that don't re-aggravate your current injury and prolong the healing process. If it hurts- stop.
The second thing to consider would be whether or not your injury was caused by something specific that needs to be addressed. If you do get some sort of injury, then assuming it isn't catastrophically bad, these are probably the best sort to get. The reason being that taking the necessary steps to correcting the injury will quite often help you become a better athlete due to the training you can do while you recover.
As an example I have recently had a recurrence of my jumper's knee that was in this instance caused by a glute strength and activation issue. Exercises that previously were no problem such as front squats, were all of a sudden starting to cause my left knee to flare up quite painfully. After determining what the problem was I have been spending the last 6 weeks focusing on deadlifts, glute ham raises, and sled and hill sprints.
This extra emphasis on posterior chain work is something I hadn't done for a while and as I can feel the inflammation and tightness starting to subside, I have also rather excitedly become aware that I have made some pretty noticeable improvements in my running speed and acceleration.
Spending time focusing on neglected areas isn't limited to strength work either, quite often it is flexibility and mobility, particularly around the quads, glutes, and hip flexors that has created the problem so your down time might be just as well spent loosening yourself out a little and freeing up your capacity to move without restraint.
If you have an injury that isn't as specific as that, the next rule I would follow would be to do the things that provide the most bang for your buck. For example if you have a sore ankle you might think that you can do some leg extensions for your quads, but quite often, depending on how sore the ankle actually is, you can still do squats and deadlifts, albeit with a lighter load than usual. In this case both the leg extensions and the squat or deadlift can be done pain free, but it is the squats or deadlifts that provide the most bang for your buck.
As a side note to this point - you should actually be doing the exercises that provide the most bang for your buck even if you aren't injured - but it is worth reiterating here because it genuinely surprises me how much people want to wimp out whenever they can.
Finally the last method of injury based training is what I call the 'do whatever the hell you can' approach. This is something that would normally only need to be applied to someone with a pretty serious injury. For example if you have a broken leg that is in a plaster cast it is going to be hard to do any leg training.
So what do you do? Lots of upper body work, core work, lower back strengthening, and of course flexibility work to help align everything correctly so that when the leg comes out of the cast you can resume your training in a more prepared state and you can minimize the loss of performance capabilities while you are recovering.
While there are many reasons people get injured the most annoying has to be the avoidable one. I talk of course about bad jump training programming. As mentioned at the start of this article jump training is hard on the body and you really do need to factor in things such as training readiness, current workload, etc.
Unfortunately most jump training programs are nothing but cookie cutter pre-written garbage that doesn't allow for the needs of the individual athlete and as such won't produce the same kinds of training results as a customised program, but are also subjecting you to an increased chance of injury.
If you are serious about increasing you vertical jump than do it the smart way and get a custom jump training program written for you. Verticaljumping.com offers a jump coaching service that does just that for only $10. This is significantly cheaper than most commercially available jump programs and is going to get you better results.
To sign up click the image below:
Most people who train hard and compete hard at their sport will encounter an injury sooner or later. It is in many ways almost a by-product of pushing yourself to the limits. How you deal with them can often be the difference between having a long and fulfilling athletic career, and being an also ran.
If you are dealing with an injury setback right now, sure it might be a temporary roadblock to achieving to your current goals, but if you approach it right, it can also be a useful wake up call that helps spur you on the greater heights.
Vertical Jump Training - The quickest way to increase your vertical jump.
Injury Prevention - No one likes getting hurt. By taking a few precautionary steps you can reduce your chances of getting injured significantly.
Jumpers Knee - What is it and what can you do about it.
Low Impact Jump Training - Jumping is hard work on your body but it doesn't have to be. Follow a few of these simple low impact strategies and give your joints a break without sacrificing your gains.