How To Return to Sport: Progressing Plyometrics – Part 1: Double Leg Jumping Variations


As I’ve mentioned in a few posts in the past I’ve been working with a lot of doctorate students finishing their clinical affiliations lately.

I mentioned in my last post about students not finishing their programs with much of an exercise arsenal to treat a wide variety of patients.  Now, I’m basically an exercise hoarder so I feel like I’m a bit on the opposite side of the spectrum, but having a lot of tools in your exercise toolbox is vital for your patient’s success.

One thing that irks me is the paltry guidance issued by most protocols for return to sport when it comes to plyometrics.  Most protocols are very specific for the first few stages of rehab, but when it comes to the plyometric and change of direction portion of the programming there is a lot of grey area (and sometimes contradictory information).  The expertise of progressing plyometrics then falls on the therapist (which is a good thing if you ask me).  You just need to have a solid understanding of jumping and landing mechanics. You’ll also need to know how to progress jumping safely and make the jumping specific to what the athlete needs to return to.
Obviously jumping proficiency is extremely important for post-surgical patients like ACL repair.  We know that landing from a jump can be a main mechanism of injury so it stands to reason that we’d want to learn to land effectively post surgery in order to return to sport.

Back when strength and conditioning was my primary occupation, I put a lot of emphasis on progression of plyometric activities.  Now that I work with a lot of post-surgical athletes I’ve become even more specific about choosing the right plyometric exercises for my patients.

I wanted to put together a series of videos that shows a progression of plyometric activities both with single and double leg jumping.  These would be appropriate for athletes rehabbing from an injury who wish to return to field sports or other sport requiring a lot of jumping (Field events, volleyball, crossfit).  These exercises are presented in order of difficulty.  There is some grey area in terms of which exercises are most difficult but knowing your athlete and their specific limitations (surgically and functionally) will help lead your progression.

DISCLAIMER: If you’re a post-surgical or injured patient DO NOT just go ahead and start trying these exercises.  Make sure your rehab progression is followed closely by both a physician and treating therapist.  This is NOT medical advice.

I like to progress my jumping from:

  • Small Jumps with Emphasis on Jumping / Landing Mechanics –> More Powerful Jumps with Emphasis on Jumping / Landing Mechanics
  • Jumping in Fresh State –> Jumping in a fatigued state
  • Double Leg –> Single Leg
  • Single Plane –> Multiple Planes
  • Jump + Stick –> Continuous Jumping –> Reactive Jumping
  • Generic Jumping Drills –> Sports Specific Drills
  • Conscious Jumping (over cones / in place)–> Unconscious Jumping (Jumping based on reacting to a ball thrown / sports specific situation / coaches cues)

Obviously your athletes will need to display adequate strength and pain levels to progress towards jumping.  Also, progression from one level to the next will require adequate biomechanics before moving on (and potentially an in depth conversation with the patient’s surgeon about progressions).
Here are a few of my favorite double leg jumps that I like to start with.  Over the next several posts I’ll put together additional progressions that get tougher and tougher.  Hopefully this will give therapists a bit of a foundation to begin progressing their athletes a bit more systematically.



Give it a shot and then respond in the comments below with your thoughts.

P.S. Please don’t have your patients jump in the snow, but jumping around the christmas tree is definitely permitted,

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