Rarely a piece of fitness equipment lasts the test of time more than a couple of years. Jump rope has been around for decades. It has been tested thousands of times to be effective in improving cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and weight loss.
It is cheap, and it could be a lot of fun after you have learned a few basics. You could burn a lot of calories fast, increase your sense of proprioception and develop lighting fast footwork. It fits in a handbag, and you can use it anywhere.
Any time you engage in explosive plyometric activities like jump rope, you need to pay attention to equipment set up and some safety tips.
In jumping activities, ground reaction force as you land sends a shock wave as high as 14 times your body weight. For a person who weighs 150 pounds that mean 1700 pounds of shock on each and every jump.
This force travels through your ankle, your knees, your hips, your shoulder and your neck. You actually feel it in your eyeballs. Those who carry extra unfit weight and children are susceptible to this shock more. Their tendons are weak, and their muscles cannot effectively manage the landing.
Below are a few tips that can help you get started.
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Select Your Jump Rope
Firs tip is how to select your jump rope since there are many types. Most of the difference is in the rope itself and the spinning mechanism. You can buy leather jump ropes, plastic ones and even weighted ropes. The spinning mechanism could be just a loose hole or have smooth ball bearings.
For a beginner, weight is important. A little weight helps the spin without too much force. The lighter the rope, the more force you’ll put into the spin that is not good. Jumping rope is about technique not force.
You also need a smooth spinning technology that prevents jamming.
Land Softly Grasshopper
A key to how to jump rope safely is not the fun part of jumping but the soft landing. Focus on landing softly on the ball of your feet. Learn to cushion the ground reaction force beginning with your feet and ankle which saves your knees and the other joints higher up. Your calves will burn by the effort that is what you want, and your joints will thank you. Land on your heels and you would lose all the good things jump rope can offer.
Rhythm is a key to Jump Ropes
Next to landing, rhythm is the most important part. With correct rhythm you don’t have to jump high, you only need about an inch under your feet to have the rope clear. Beginners forget the rhythm and instead they try to increase their vertical jump. Their unconditioned body gives out, and they become frustrated and if they push they get injured. The needed clearance is a matter of timing not elevation.
Beginners tend to expend too much energy to accomplish something that could be accomplished with much less effort. Increasing your efficiency is part of your learning curve. I can point it out but then you need to look for it. In jump rope, if you move your arms and shoulders too much, you create larger arches.
After moving your arm too high up, then you’ll have to move them tool low as well. These unnecessarily exaggerated movements slow down the speed of the rope and throws your rhythm off. Keep your arms by your side and focus on your wrist action. As you advance, you will come across techniques that require larger arm movements. But those are still large enough to accomplish your goal and no more.
Also, with large arm movements, the rope raises higher which forces you to jump higher to clear it.
Size of Your Rope
We keep going back to timing and rhythm. As a beginner, you need to watch your tendency solve every rope jumping challenge with jumping higher.
Check your rope size. A rope that is either too short or too long forces you to alter your jumping.
Step on the center of the rope. Are the handles around your heart? For most when the handle is around the heart, the rope can clear their feet and their head with little elbow action. I have long arms and short legs. I need to adapt. You may have to do that same.
Listen For The Sound
In practice, one of the goals is to hear the continuous sound of the rope passing through the air and little else. If my rhythm is correct and my landing is soft, I can hear this. It has a soothing quality to it.
The first sound you need to listen to is the ticking sound as the rope hits the ground a fraction of a second before it reaches your feet. In the beginning, you want this. You listen and as soon as you hear the tick; you jump. Your rhythm becomes tick-jump, tick-jump, tick-jump. Listening instead of looking allows you to keep your head straight and develop a more efficient posture which is also healthier.
You need the skills in more advance jump rope techniques like Crossfit jump rope double under.
With right rope length and your arms by your side, your hands will be placed about the middle of your body. This gives them about the same distance from your feet as well as your hair. With your hands in the middle, you don’t need to move your elbows and shoulder much to get a clean revolution. Adjust the rope length for this.
Rhythm of Life
There is an underlying rhythm to everything. If you ever watched any sports competition, you would notice this especially in jump rope competitions. With a rhythm comes precisions and efficiency. There is an artistic quality to it. Practice using a rhythm. I am fanatic about this. Anytime I learn a new skill, I actually use a metronome. With rhythmical motions, it is easy to change the speed by changing the cadence.
Life Relies On Breath
Very few coaches and athletes pay enough attention to the breathing rhythm. In jump rope, you may need to inhale for two revolutions and exhale for four. At faster speeds, you need to change this. There is a technique to breathing; we’ll cover later. If you have no breathing pattern or if your breathing pattern clashes with your movement pattern, you get exhausted because of the clash not the effort.
Right Jump Technique
In many paths to spiritual transformation including The Eightfold Path of Buddhism, “Right Effort” is referenced. Effort is exertion of energy without direction. Right effort is exertion of energy towards accomplishing a goal.
Repetition makes actions easier but it does not change “effort” to “right effort.” Ineffective and dangerous actions become easier by repetition that only means they take you closer to injury.
Patently practice your jump rope technique with the tips I gave you, especially the soft landing and both motion and breathing rhythm. Rushing only seems fast, and injury is the slowest way to your goal.
Poor form and rhythm will stop your future progress and does not allow you reach more advanced techniques. Buddy Lee is an astonishing example of what can be done with jump ropes.