When done correctly, jumping rope is an excellent form of exercise. It can help improve cardiovascular health, boost metabolism, and build strength and agility. However, if you're new to jumping rope or have been away from it for a while, you may be at risk of developing shin splints. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent them. Let's discuss some key strategies for avoiding shin splints while jumping rope.
Warm Up Properly: Before any exercise routine, it's essential to do a proper warm-up. A 5-10 minute warm-up helps prepare your muscles and joints for the workout. This is particularly important when it comes to jumping rope, as this type of exercise can put a lot of strain on your shins if you're not adequately warmed up beforehand. Light jogging or dynamic stretching will do the trick here!
Wear the Right Shoes: You must wear shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning when jumping rope. If your shoes are worn out or don't fit properly, it can increase strain and pain in your shins. Make sure your shoes fit snugly and have plenty of cushioning to help absorb the impact from each jump. My favorite shoes for jumping rope is the Mizuno Wave Horizon 5's
Use a Soft Surface: Another critical factor in preventing shin splints is choosing a surface that provides cushioning for your feet. With each jump, hard surfaces such as concrete can put additional strain on your shins, so opt for softer surfaces like rubber or a springy wood floor if you can!
Gradually Increase Intensity: If you start or get back into jumping rope after taking a break, start slowly with short sessions and gradually increase the intensity over time. This will give your body time to adjust to the impact of the activity and reduce your risk of developing shin splints.
Strengthen Lower Legs: Doing exercises that target the muscles in your lower legs can help prevent shin splints by strengthening those muscles and increasing their resilience against impact. Calf raises, ankle dorsiflexion, and eccentric heel drops are all great options for building strength in this area.
Some exercises to strengthen the legs for jump rope include (feel free to check youtube for demonstration and modifications):
Jumping Jacks: This is a great cardiovascular exercise that strengthens the legs and prepares them for jump rope.
Squats: This exercise strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, all of which are important for jumping and landing during jump rope.
Lunges: Lunges help to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the calf muscles, which are also important for jump rope.
Calf Raises: This exercise strengthens the calves, which are essential for the explosive movements needed in jump rope.
Box Jumps: Box jumps are a plyometric exercise that can help improve explosive power in the legs, making it easier to jump higher and faster during jump rope.
Stretch Lower Legs: After exercising (and especially after jumping rope), it is essential to stretch out your calf muscles and lower legs to keep them flexible and reduce muscle tightness. This will help prevent shin splints by allowing the muscles to recover more quickly from the impact of each jump.
Here are some stretches for the legs after jump rope:
Quad stretch: Stand on one leg and grab your other ankle, bringing your heel towards your glutes. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch legs.
Hamstring stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended out and the other bent with the sole of the foot against the inner thigh of the extended leg. Reach towards your extended foot and hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.
Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with one foot behind the other. Lean forward, keeping your back leg straight and your heel on the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.
Figure 4 stretch: Sit on the ground with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and gently push down on your right knee until you feel a stretch in your right glute. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.
Remember to ease into each stretch and avoid any pain or discomfort. If you experience pain or discomfort during these stretches, stop immediately
Take Breaks: If you feel pain or discomfort in your shins while jumping rope, take a break immediately and rest until you feel better before exercising again. Continuing to jump rope when experiencing pain increases your risk of developing shin splints or other injuries.
The strategies outlined above are critical tips for preventing shin splints while enjoying the benefits of skipping rope as an exercise routine. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy all the fantastic benefits of skipping without having to worry about developing painful shin splints! So take care of yourself to continue reaping all the rewards of regular jumping-rope workouts!
Action Step: If you have any issues or concerns, consult a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist, for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. It is also important to rest and avoid any activities that may exacerbate the condition until receiving adequate guidance from a healthcare professional.