Beginning Plyometrics

This week was exciting and discouraging all at the same time. I was super excited to be able to start some light plyometrics (jumping, super slow jogging), but was reminded at how far I have yet to go when I actually did them. My ankle felt pretty stiff and a bit sore, but not painful. I know that no progression feels great the first time and it will get better as I get stronger, but…. (SIGH)…..can it hurry up already? 

With that in mind, I thought I’d discuss how to progress into light plyometrics, which is an important step often missed when someone is going from injury to return to running. It is important to gradually add back in impact activities so the body has time to accommodate to the load, build up strength and stability, and prevent injuries from coming on as soon as you start running again.

Before starting any plyometric activities, near symmetrical strength is important. While the single leg plyometrics can be a way to assist in creating symmetrical strength, if there is a large imbalance, you will find yourself compensating with other muscles and joints, leading to injuries. 

Some of my strength tests that I administer to determine readiness for progression to a plyometric program include:

  1. Single Leg Heel Raises on a step (able to complete 3 sets of 10 on each leg)- this ensures that the calves are strong enough and have enough stability for jumping.
  2. Single Leg Sit to Stands (able to complete 3 sets of 5 on each leg)- This gives you a good idea if your glutes and quads are strong enough to perform plyometrics symmetrically.
  3. Single leg balance- (able to maintain balance on single leg for greater than 60 seconds on each side on an uneven surface such as a balance disc, foam or pillow)- This demonstrates the body’s ability to adjust and recover balance, something that is essential for injury prevention when doing plyometrics or working back into running.

Once you feel satisfied that your strength and balance are adequate to progress to the next phase, here are a few starting plyometric exercises:

Double leg jumping; Jogging in place; Single leg hopping; Adding a hop to other exercises: standing hip series, lunge and lift, squats

My suggested routine would start like this, every other day:

  • 30 seconds double leg jumping 
  • 30 seconds jogging in place 
  • 2 sets of 10 seconds on each side single leg hopping (alternating sides)

It might not seem like much to start with, but it is important to test the body in small doses at the start.

If that feels good, then after a day of rest add in a few more advanced ones so the routine would look something like this:

  • 30 seconds double leg jumping 
  • 30 seconds jogging in place 
  • 2 sets of 10 seconds on each side single leg hopping (alternating sides)
  • 30 seconds jump squats
  • 1 set of standing hip series with a hop (see last week’s video for the basic variation)
  • 1 set of 10 reverse lunge with a lift and hop

After a few days of doing this routine, you can start increasing the reps, working up to 3 sets of each, then progress to working up the time to a max of 60 seconds. At this point, you will be ready to progress to vertical plyometrics, which will be a topic for a future post. 

Even if you haven’t had an injury, adding simple plyometrics to your workout can improve strength, power and agility. 

On another note, 

I did a re-evaluation this week to make sure I was making appropriate progress and to send an update to the surgeon. Here were my new measurements, for anyone nerdy enough to care:

Re-eval measurements:

SLS: 2×60+seconds bilaterally SLS on Dynadisc:  R:  60+ seconds L: 35 seconds, 60 seconds

DF: 5 degrees on L, knee extended PF: 55 degrees on L

Figure 8 girth: L: 46.5cm; R: 45.5cm

Circumference of malleoli: L: 22.8cm R: 21.2cm

Calf Girth (15 cm below knee joint line): L: 34cm, R: 34 cm

Ankle ROM:

AROM: DF (knee bent): L: 9 degrees R: 17 degrees PF: L: 58 degrees  R: 72 degrees  INV L: 15 degrees R:  32 degrees   EV: L: 16 degrees R: 30 degrees

DF lunge test: L: 7 cm, R: 14 cm

Scar mobility: Fair-good around lateral malleolus, Good in medial port hole.

Walking Gait: WNL

Mild visible edema around lateral malleolus.

Though I have made progress, there are still plenty of limitations to work on, so I am not there yet!

Do you have any topics you’d be interested in seeing a post about, send me a message or leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

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