Jumping rope does the trick

6. August 2019

Foto: iStock.com/alvarez

Jumping rope is an excellent strength and coordination exercise for runners and promotes reactive strength as well as an active running style.

Around 30 years ago, the American Heart Association propagated jumping rope as a type of sport to prevent heart diseases. Jumping rope, or rope skipping, became trendy and instead of the hemp rope, there was suddenly a speed rope, beaded rope and Double Dutch rope available on the market.

Runners also discovered this cheap yet very effective accessory not long after the keep-fit athletes. Competitive athletes incorporated rope jumping into their training and still often do it today, both as a strength exercise as well as for running training. The benefits are numerous: 

  • Jumping rope trains your strength endurance, because jumping on the spot is intensive.
  • Jumping rope promotes the coordination of different muscle groups. Exercises such as jumping side to side or rotating the hips go beyond the motion sequence used when running straight ahead.
  • Jumping rope supports the networking of the two halves of the brain. As soon as a motion crosses the centre of the body, i.e. crossing the arms in front of the body, the two halves of the brain need to communicate with each other.
  • Jumping rope can increase bone density. The stress on the skeleton makes it more resistant.
  • Jumping rope promotes a sense of balance. You can do many exercises on one leg instead of two.
  • Jumping rope stimulates the capsular-ligamentous apparatus and thus protects against injuries.

The fact that jumping rope is closely related to running can be seen by comparing the foot work. As in the case of an active running style, you land on the forefoot, brake the impact with your muscles and push off with the toes again. Jumping rope promotes the ability to catapult ourselves into the air again as quickly as possible, similar to the effect of a spring, due to the stored energy in the fascial structures. When jumping rope, we train our reactive strength – and thereby a short ground contact time for runners. What’s more, by jumping on the spot we promote our bodies’ general elastic properties due to the interplay of joints and muscles and strengthen our feet, calves and calf muscles, since we constantly land on the forefoot and also push off from there again.

Anyone who jumps rope for a few minutes before or during their training will notice that this training increases their awareness of a conscious, effective running style. With jumping rope, you do playful strength exercises and then convert the on-the-spot motion sequence into the running motion, for example, with subsequent sprint runs, sprints or a short continuous run. Thus, precisely what modern and targeted strength training for endurance athletes should be like.

But take note: beginners need to be careful and never jump for longer than 5 minutes a day during the first four weeks. If you overdo it, you will quickly get hard calves at the beginning or even Achilles tendon problems. The five minutes can be divided, for example, into 5 x 100 various exercises such as with both legs, one leg, alternating steps (like running), jumping sideways, or rotating the hips. The degree of difficulty and the number of jumps can be increased over time.