January 22, 2014 by Jamie Page
Learning, practicing and perfecting the barefoot jump prepares the brain and body for running.
A jump is much more dynamic than walking or squatting, which means there are more forces involved and more skill required. Learning to jump will build on the strength, balance, and flexibility gained in the early stages of your New Year’s Revolution journey, as well as improve the elasticity of your tendons and, importantly, teach you about rhythmic motion.
Tendons are a bit like elastic bands. You have them all over your body and they usually connect muscle to bone. When stretched, these 'elastic bands' snap back into place, essentially providing you with 'free' energy. This is known as the 'stretch-shorten' cycle.
How we run affects this cycle because our tendons stretch and recoil most efficiently at a certain 'cadence' (beats per minute). When the cadence is wrong, injury often occurs. It's important to understand while you're learning to jump why elasticity and rhythm are such important factors for running.
Jumping at 90bpm and running at 180bpm (3 jumps a second) is important. But, why?
A note from Lee Saxby: The truth about 90 and 180
"Cadence/rhythm is a 'coaching cue' not a scientific fact. Observation of elite runners (Jack Daniels 'Running Formula') and habitual barefoot runners (Dan Lieberman, Harvard) shows that they have a cadence/rhythm of 170-185 (85-92 each leg) and this is used as a benchmark or coaching template. The science is based on the SSC (stretch shortening cycle) of the musculotendinous unit/ plyometric theory and the ability to use elastic recoil rather than excessive muscle action. This essentially means a ground contact time of less than 150ms is desirable which for coaching purposes translates to about 180bpm."
Working with the squat
It’s important to note that once you perfect the squat and move onto jumping you don’t stop squatting. Walking, squatting and jumping should be done little and often everyday to ensure you hardware and software are up to date!
Learn how to jump »