Posted on by Thera Smart

What if avoiding injury was as easy as 3, 2, 1 JUMP?

When you’re running in a race you aren’t just running. You’re dodging people around you, stopping, starting and depending on the location, travelling over a variety of terrain. It’s important your training reflects these movements to prevent injury.

There have been numerous studies and systematic reviews performed looking at primarily four assessment categories; landing, side cutting, stop-jump and muscle strength outcomes to determine your injury risk.

A lot of these studies have been performed specifically in relation to ACL and hamstring injury risks in sports such as basketball and football. However, the same principles are applicable in running as it is the fundamental component in all of these sports. Injuries associated with running can include lower back, hip, knee, lower leg, ankle and foot. That’s a lot of things to cover so I’ll keep things relatively simple today, looking at a couple of specific tests that will highlight any weak links and can be incorporated into your training.

First, you need to be coming from a good foundation. As a general rule of thumb – people who receive treatment from me will know that I’m a strong advocate that if you can perform a single leg squat from a chair with good control for 4 sets of 20 repetitions on each leg, then you are in a relatively good place to start more dynamic movements (if you are unsure what a single leg squat from a chair is, have a look at one of our earlier blogs specifically geared towards the basic strength requirements/exercises for running).

So now the basic requirements are covered, a couple of easy tests to start looking at focus on the landing and stop jump categories.

Shallow squat jump and land

Place two bits of masking tape parallel on the floor approximately shoulder width apart preferably in front of a full-length mirror. Hands on hips, inside borders of feet lined up with the tape.  Go from a shallow squat, jump and then land back in the shallow squat position. The goal is to not allow your knees to ‘collapse’ towards each other, feet landing in line with the tape and landing ‘as quiet as a mouse’. Make sure you do not rush by holding the position of the shallow squat for a count of at least 3 seconds.

This is a great test which is replicable over and over giving immediate feedback. If your knees are collapsing in it is a pretty clear sign that you’re weak around your hips and pelvis. 


Single leg hop test

Hands on hips, standing on one leg, aim to hop forwards as far as possible whilst still landing in control.  Be conscious of the angle of foot and knee as you land, is your foot landing heavily and turned out? Are you wobbling all over that you cannot keep your hands on your hips? Do you put your other foot down??  All these are things we are aiming to avoid.

Take measurements of three successful attempts and take the mean distance for both legs.  Are they even?  Often, you find one leg is stronger than the other and there will be a disparity between the two. If this is the case you can be susceptible for a range of hip, knee or ankle problems and will need to build strength.

Even though these are generally used as objective measures to assess your basic dynamic jumping they can also be used as a training tool.  Once you have got grips with the basics then we can start to look at some of the following exercise/jump drills as illustrated courtesy of Rehab Guru.  These are increasing in complexity and a little more challenging/entertaining.  So, enjoy yourself and remember that whilst these are ‘dynamic’ drills, take your time and ensure that you are in control at all times rather than using momentum.

By Alex Smart