Proper Jumping Technique to Protect Your Feet and Ankles

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Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just someone who enjoys leaping over rain puddles, knowing the proper jumping technique can save your ankles and feet from harm. Here’s the right way to jump.

The worst kind of injury is the one you could have prevented. That's why Dr. Matthew Cerniglia, our board-certified podiatrist at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas in Fort Worth, has compiled this guide to proper jumping techniques. 

With a few pro tips in mind, you can leap to your heart's content without risking injury to your feet and ankles. 

It’s all in the landing

Proper jumping technique has more to do with your landing than your take-off. Ideally, your landing allows your joints to absorb the shock of the impact and puts you in a good position to rebound from the movement. 

It’s always a good idea to warm up your muscles before asking them to perform a big jump. Stretches and light exercises that engage your glutes (buttock muscles), including some small jumps, can get your body ready to perform without tearing down your muscle fibers, tendons, and ligaments. 

When you jump:

  • Keep your knees over your feet, not drifting inward or past your toes
  • Engage your glutes to propel you
  • Land on the balls of your feet first
  • Then distribute your weight evenly from your toes to your heels

If you’ve been jumping incorrectly your whole life, this technique may feel odd at first, but with a little practice and slow, purposeful movements, you can master it quickly and, eventually, use it without thinking about it. 

Why you’re jumping wrong

Dr. Cerniglia sees the effects of improper jumping all the time. Here are some reasons you may default to an improper jumping technique.

You have weak glutes and quads

If you sit all day at a computer desk or lead a sedentary lifestyle, you likely have weak or dormant glutes. Any muscle imbalance is bound to cause inequities in your movement, and that’s certainly true with jumping. 

Without strong gluteal muscles to launch your jump, your body relies on your quads alone to shift the weight forward and up. Over time, this takes a toll on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet, eventually damaging the joints. 

Your quads are too strong

How can strong muscles cause a problem? Strong quadriceps are great for jumping, but not if they overpower your glutes. Balance is the key to proper jumping. Work on strengthening all of your muscles so they work in unison and no single muscle group bears the entire burden.

Strong glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hip abductors keep your shinbone from sliding forward and damaging your knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). 

You never knew 

Every kid knows how to jump — it’s one of the first things they learn after standing and walking. Unfortunately, many rely on their infantile instinct, never realizing that there’s more to learn about body mechanics as they age. 

Most people have never been taught how to jump properly, which is why Dr. Cerniglia is righting the wrong and advocating proper jumping mechanics.

What improper jumping technique does to your body

If you’re thinking that proper jumping mechanics are only for athletes, it might surprise you to learn that more than 800,000 kids sustained trampoline-jumping injuries in 2022. 

But you don’t have to engage in extreme jumping to harm your ankles and feet with poor technique. We see ankle fractures, sprains, and chronic foot pain in folks of all ages and athletic abilities.

In most cases, Dr. Cerniglia can ease your pain and help you rehabilitate from a foot or ankle injury without surgical intervention. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and steroid injections can enable you to heal completely in relative comfort. 

But if surgery becomes necessary, you’re in good hands. Dr. Cerniglia specializes in total ankle replacement surgery, leading the field in the top 1% of podiatric surgeons. 

To learn more about proper jumping mechanics and what to do if poor techniques have left you with an injury, contact us at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas online or by phone.