Whether you’re taking Pilates classes or training for the Olympics, when it comes to physical fitness, an injury can really derail performance.
Have you ever gotten into a groove, and suddenly an injury has forced you to take time off? Getting off track can be highly disappointing, especially when an unexpected injury rears its ugly head. For better or worse, injuries and related physical setbacks are simply part of the deal when engaging in exercise… even when jumping rope.
Here at Jump Rope Dudes, we’re no stranger to the frustration that comes with an injury.
Almost 10 years into our respective jump rope journeys, we (Dan and Brandon) have experienced a wide range of physical setbacks (looking at you shin splints!). Thankfully, we have also learned that there are a number of best practices and strategies you can follow to help avoid injury as you jump. In today’s article, we are going to cover our top tips for jump rope safety, as well as some of the most common jump rope injuries.
However, before we begin, we want to say a few words about jumping rope and exercise safety.
Some Thoughts on Jumping Rope and General Safety
Many people assume that jumping rope is a high-impact exercise activity.
We want to highlight to our readers and community members that the exact opposite is actually true. When executed with proper form, jumping rope is actually a low-impact form of physical fitness! In fact, study after study has shown that the injury risk is actually less than other common forms of exercise, such as running. Compared to a high-impact exercise like running, jumping roping can be easier on the joints, especially since statistics show us that close to 75% of the people who run experience injury.
While injury risk will vary from person to person, injury prevention when jumping rope (like most forms of exercise) really comes to mastering the basics. If you are just getting started on your jump rope journey, we recommend that you check out our in-depth guide for beginners.
Finally, we want to point out that neither one of us is a medical professional. While we feel confident in our ability to provide practical and effective injury prevention advice, please do not interpret anything we say in this post as medical advice. At the end of the day, you and your doctor know your body best! Always speak to your physician before beginning an exercise program of any sort, and definitely talk to them if you’ve experienced injury or pain while jumping rope.
OK! With all of that out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of today’s article.
5 Most Common Jump Rope Injuries
To begin, we want to briefly discuss the five most common injuries we have both experienced and seen in our community of awesome jump rope dudes and dudettes. Again, everyone is built differently, and there is always the potential for some really odd or crazy injuries. However, having said that, we are confident that the non-exhaustive list of injuries we cover below are the ones that you are most likely to confront on your jump rope journey.
1. Shin Splints
The most common injury we see in our community is pain from shin splints. “Shin splints” refers to pain that occurs along the shin bone (tibia), and is formally known as “medial tibial stress syndrome.” Common symptoms include tenderness and soreness along your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg.
Our experience has taught us that poor form and technique, when combined with excessive jumping, are the most common causes of shin splints. Unfortunately, if not quickly addressed with some much-needed rest, shin splints can become a chronic condition and can progress to a stress reaction or fracture.
2. Calf Strain
A “calf strain” is also known as a pulled calf muscle. Athletes of all types commonly experience calf strains. Most of the time, this type of injury is due to jumping/running/moving too quickly and without a proper warm-up. This is especially true when jumping rope, as your leg movement tends to be quick and powerful and can cause the calf muscles to become overstretched if they are not adequately prepared for jumping. Typical symptoms include calf pain, swelling, and a noticeable decrease in your range of motion.
3. Ankle Pain
Ankle pain is a pretty common injury for most athletes. It can arise due to an ankle fracture, compression of nerves in the foot or ankle, and instability. Like the calf strain discussed above, general ankle pain (aka not a specific injury like spraining your ankle) tends to arise because of an inadequate warm-up. Improper footwear (aka shoes that are high-heeled or provide minimal arch support) and jumping or exercising on hard surfaces can also result in ankle pain.
4. Knee Pain
Also known as “jumper’s knee,” general knee pain is another common injury we see with community members. It is typically caused by excessive jumping and running and is exacerbated by poor form when engaging in both movements. This results in inflammation and deterioration of the patella tendon as the quadriceps muscles pull down on the kneecap. It is what we call an “overuse” injury. If you have jumper’s knee, the best way to treat it is to 1) rest, and 2) strengthen the quadriceps and hip flexors. When it comes to jumping rope, jumper’s knee can be avoided with proper mechanics and avoiding excessive jump height.
5. Plantar Fasciitis
If you have ever risen in the morning and experienced a stabbing pain in your heel as you got up in the morning, then you’ve most likely experienced plantar fasciitis. The most common cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis results in inflammation of the band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your toes to your heel bone. Of all the injuries we have covered, this one might be the worst with respect to your quality of life. It causes stabbing pain as you step. It normally gets better as the day goes on, but is pretty gnarly in the morning.
While your walking mechanics and bone structure can both play a role in the onset of plantar fasciitis, when it comes to jumping rope, factors like jumping too much (especially if you’re new to the activity) and improper footwear can also contribute. Stretching the bottom of your foot via a rolling pin or tennis ball can really help, as can jumping on a padded surface and Epsom salt soaks.
10 Tips to Avoid Injury When Jumping Rope
Now that you are familiar with some of the most common injuries that can occur while jumping rope, it’s time to look at how you can avoid them! Consider the tips we cover below as building blocks to develop a solid foundation from which to begin your jump rope journey. Remember, if you are already experiencing some of the injuries discussed above, you should speak to a trusted medical professional.
1. Learn the Basics
This might be an obvious tip, but learning the basics of how to jump rope can aid in reducing your chances of getting of having to deal with some of the most common jump rope injuries. Foundational elements like proper posture (shoulders retracted, core and glutes engaged, eyes forward) as well as learning how to warm up, hold your jump rope, and even how to correctly move your feet and hands while jumping are all things that will set you on the right path to jumping safely! If you want to learn more about proper form and technique for jumping, check out the video embedded above.
2. Properly Measure Your Rope
While developing proper form is rule #1 to avoid injury while jumping rope, it is almost impossible to do so if you are jumping with an improperly sized jump rope. If your rope is too long, your movement will be thrown off as your rope hits the floor. On the flip side, if your rope is too short, you’ll have to jump really high (higher than optimal) to avoid tripping over your rope, which will also throw off mechanics.
Either way, a rope that is too short or too long can lead to injury and increase the likelihood that you trip over your rope. Not sure how to properly measure your rope? Check out our comprehensive blog on the topic to learn how to size correctly!
3. Master Jump Height
Jumping too high is one of the most common ways to get injured. It can be strange to think that you only need an inch or two of clearance off the ground for the rope to swing through. However, any higher and you turn jumping rope from a low-impact to a high-impact exercise. The only time you should be jumping higher than one to two inches is when you are performing double unders. Jumping any higher on a consistent basis is likely to lead to issues like shin splints or knee pain.
4. Be Sure to Warm Up
A crucial element of effective preparation for all exercise activities, you should never skip your warm-up! A proper warm-up allows the muscles and tissues of the body to prepare for your workout and can aid in reducing injury – especially when it comes to jumping and related plyometric movements!
Dynamic exercises are best at preparing the body for the exercise to follow, so movements like butt kicks, high knees, jumping jacks, and even inchworms can be a vital addition to your jumping program. To learn more, check out the video embedded above. Here Brandon will take you through his pre-workout warm-up routine.
5. Remember, Surface Matters!
Believe it or not, the surface you jump on makes a huge difference when it comes to avoiding the most common jump rope injuries. Harder surfaces like concrete or asphalt won’t be as forgiving as softer surfaces, such as foam matting or padded gym floors.
We know you can’t always pick and choose your workout locations, but as often as possible, you should try to pick someplace where the ground is a bit softer to decrease the risk of injury. If a softer area isn’t available, jump rope mats can be utilized for this very purpose. Our favorite is the Crossrope Jump Rope Mat. Easy to store and take on the go, this mat can help decrease the risk of injury when you’re in a spot that might not be as soft as you’d like!
6. Use Proper Footwear
Just as with any other fitness activity, you want to ensure you are wearing the proper footwear when jumping rope. Shoes that support your arches and give solid support to your ankles will be highly beneficial as you begin your jump rope journey. Finding a shoe that can support you through the repetitiveness of jumping is critical in reducing injuries. Check out the video embedded above to learn more about our favorite shoes for jump rope.
7. Get a Quality Jump Rope
While we understand that it is rather quick, easy, and cost-efficient to go to a local sporting store and grab the closest jump rope off the rack, a premium rope goes a long way in helping master proper form. Here at Jump Rope Dudes, we recommend either the Get Strong or the Get Lean jump rope sets from Crossrope.
Both fall into the category of “weighted ropes,” and can be especially helpful for those new to jumping rope given the helpful resistance they provide. Again, the price point of any piece of exercise equipment shouldn’t stop you from progressing on your fitness journey. If you are healthy and injury-free, a cheaper rope is also fine!
8. Avoid Overtraining
While muscle soreness should be expected when engaging in any type of HIIT exercise, the “no pain, no gain” mentality we often get sold on by the fitness industry is a slippery slope. We get it! You’re excited to start jumping, nail your swing mechanics, and transform your body. However, you need to be aware of your limits. Amping up the volume to “too much too soon” can lead to injuries.
If you are new to jumping rope, our suggestion is to take it slow and focus on the fundamentals before turning the intensity up. Here we can help with Jump Rope Dudes TV. Our new interactive jump rope platform can provide you with workouts and coaching for all experience levels. Sign up today for a free 7-day trial and give it a try.
9. Stretch, Rest, and Recover
Injuries can lead to more than just poor exercise performance – they can result in debilitating conditions like depression. Remember, rest and recovery are a part of self-love! A day off between activities or an active recovery day (aka stretching and mobility) will help your body repair and rebuild muscle while reducing the risk of future injury. Check out the video embedded above to learn how Brandon incorporates yoga into his schedule for rest and recovery.
10. Have Fun!
Finally, jumping rope is more than an amazing form of physical fitness, it is also FUN! Here at JRD, we live and breathe jumping rope as a lifestyle. We want to have fun working out, and we want that enjoyment to flow into all aspects of our lives – personal, professional, and beyond! Jumping rope with the specific intention to have fun is a great strategy to keep you injury-free and living a generally happy life.
This mentality will keep you present, remind you to take it slow, and help you find joy in all facets of your life. Don’t get what we mean? Check out the video embedded above from our Medellin (aka Zen Dude Fitness) days. Even before we had a large community of dudes and dudettes, we used jumping rope as a tool for fitness and to generally have more fun. This philosophy lives on in all that we do to this day. We invite you to try and do the same!
While we can’t guarantee that you will never have to deal with the common jump rope injuries we covered in this piece, the strategies we outlined provide a great blueprint for a safer, more enjoyable fitness journey.
BOOM! All done for today!
As always, we recommend that you check out the JRD YouTube channel, and we invite you to connect with us on social media (Facebook or Instagram). Until next time fam, keep DOING THE THING (and be sure to do it safely – lol!).