T Nation

Absorbing Impact from Jumps

Hey guys, I’ve ran into a problem lately. Whenever I do burpees, I get knee pain. Now that I think of it, for some reason I’ve never been able to absorb impact properly from jumping. In basketball, skateboarding, whatever I did when I was younger, I always felt awkward landing. So, my question is twofold :

  1. is there some physiological problem with people that causes them to not be able to absorb impact off of a jump?

  2. What is the proper technique for absorbing impact after a jump?

Thanks!

Just edited to add, the only way that feels semi-natural(and this is what brings the knee pain) is landing on my toes, and sinking downwards on my toes. I remember hearing that this is bad for your knees. So maybe there is some reason why landing on my heel(I think that’s where I’m supposed to land) is awkward?

Squats would not only make your knees strong and healthy, but would also give them good absorbing strength.
I know abs absorb impacts, also. Ab work would be necessary.

Train on landing and absorbing the shock softly, train by landing softly.

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
Hey guys, I’ve ran into a problem lately. Whenever I do burpees, I get knee pain. Now that I think of it, for some reason I’ve never been able to absorb impact properly from jumping. In basketball, skateboarding, whatever I did when I was younger, I always felt awkward landing. So, my question is twofold :

  1. is there some physiological problem with people that causes them to not be able to absorb impact off of a jump?

  2. What is the proper technique for absorbing impact after a jump?

Thanks![/quote]

Might be way off base here, but jumping, while great exercise, is not nearly as important as landing properly, since most all injuries from jumps occur of (bad) landings.

For the burpee, you:

  • do a pushup
  • tuck your knees up – don’t hop much. The power comes from your abs doing and explosive movement
  • jump up
  • land on the balls of your feet do not stop and as you go down to a crouch, use your legs to decelerate you smoothly. Good way to practice this is trying to be as silent as possible.
  • rock up on your arms, stomp both feet out again (yep, just like a jump) and you are ready for the next one.

Problem I see with a lot of people is that when they do it with a jump, they come to a full stop on the landing rather than practicing absorbing the impact. Add in the jump gradually. Start by doing these with no jump (just stand up) then when you think you have it, jump 1/2 inch and increase over the course of a few workouts. Knee pain probably means your hips are not absorbing the impact from the landing right and the knees are taking a beating trying to correct it. Since good landing is mostly a timing issue, you should practice the form for this and treat the landing as a skill to acquire rather than just a conditioning move.

If you want a great, knee friendly variation, try burps, which are burpees without coming up. A lot like double mountain climbers. Use your abs/psoas on the tuck and your hamstrings (like a “reverse hyper”) on the extension. You should really feel these the next day.

–jj

Edit: I almost forgot. How many of these are you doing? If you are doing high volumes then a mat might be a good thing to use. This isn’t an issue until you get into the 100’s range for reps during a workout. Issue here again is that when fatigue sets in, timing goes and you start tacking up the slack. Since I am a martial artist, part of the training is still trying to keep on slogging when exhausted.

It sounds like it could be an issue with proprioception - how your nervous system instinctively activates the muscles needed to control your landing and absorb the impact. That can be in some people not a natural thing, and something that you’d have to “teach” your body.

Plyometrics may be a good start (btw - I am no trainer, so take this with a grain of salt). Trying jumping off a 2’ high box and then concentrate on powering back up into a jump as soon as you detect your feet landing. This will get your nervous system used to activating more quickly and force you to absorb the initial jump by bending your knees to reverse the momentum. Try this on a pad or mat at first, since it sounds like until you learn to absorb the impact you’ll have sore knees.

I went through a similar thing - I had my third knee surgery, a period of inactivity, and then went through a period where I seemed to be constantly reinjuring my knee, my thigh muscle, my hamstrings, my groin etc whenever I played any sports. What I figure happened is the inactivity caused my body to lose a lot of proprioception and my balance was off, how my supporting muscles around the knee were reacting to sudden stresses etc. So I “fixed” this with some proprioception exercises, simple things like standing on one leg at a time, then standing on a Bosu ball, some light plyometrics etc. Things are a lot better now, less injuries and less knee swelling (even though I have osteoarthritis).