Friday, August 20, 2010

Plyometric Safety: Before You Jump

Plyometrics refers to exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximal strength in as short a time as possible. It is the link between strength and power and if trained properly enables an athlete to reach peak physical condition. If you play an explosive sport such as basketball, tennis or soccer, plyometrics will take your athleticism to the next level and allow you to produce the power necessary to excel. If you are looking to take your training to the next level and not necessarily training for a specific sport incorporating plyometrics will definitely help but it is crucial that you are smart about it. More injuries in plyometric training occur if the athlete is not properly prepared.

Safety Considerations to think about prior to starting your plyometric training:
  • First and foremost the athlete must have a solid base of strength conditioning. It is recommended by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) that one is able to perform a one repetition squat at a weight 1.5-2.5 times that of their bodyweight and bench press a weight 1-1.5 times their bodyweight. Not having the proper strength base is a direct path to injury. Plyometrics not only stress the muscles and tendons but the central nervous system as well. This results for the need of longer rest periods and having the foundation of strength to support your joints when performing these drills. Are you set for landing? Landing without allowing your joints to collapse is a direct link to a strong base of strength. This and possible abnormalities of the spine or body structure needs to be considered.
  • What exactly are you training for? Make sure the plyometric drill(s) you are performing have a correlation to the sport or movement that you desire to be more powerful. For example a tennis player would get more benefit from side to side movements where a basketball player would benefit more from bounding type exercises and vertical jumps.
  • Make sure you have the right gear when performing the drills. Proper footwear with good ankle and arch support is important and depending on the drills, lateral stability is important in a good shoe as well.
This is just scratching the surface of plyometric training and all that is involved. When starting your program; warm up, intensity, frequency, rest periods are all components that need to be planned out to ensure you train properly. If you are thinking about adding plyometrics to your workouts, be sure to meet with a personal trainer who can guide you in the safest and most efficient direction.

Written by Dana Lauren
Fitness Director, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

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