Box Jump Fails – How to Avoid
Box jumps have been criticized by those in the fitness community as being one of CrossFit’s most dangerous exercises. Although they are not without their risk they are an effective training tool if used properly.
Here are 8 ways that you can mitigate the risks of the Box Jump for both Coaches and athletes.
1. Start small, don’t have people jumping above their comfort zone. Max height box jumps are for show and Youtube. If you are putting box jumps in a workout then have a height that is very comfortable for the athlete as they will fatigue and be less able to jump as the workout continues.
2. Step down. High rep box jumps were often used in CrossFit competitions and early programming. These high repetition moves caused some people to rupture or tear their achilles tendons. It’s really not worth it to do “quick box jumps” for time if the flip side of the coin is a 6 month recovery period and excruciating pain. Here is a great article from the Tabata times about stepping down.
3. Land Soft – As a coach you can hear when someone is about to “miss” a box jump because it sounds as if you are dropping heavy plates onto the box. A loud smacking sound on the box is the precursor to someone not making their box. Their feet are just clearing the edge and quickly smacking down flat on the box causing a loud distinct sound. If you hear your athletes doing this, get them to stop before they leave half of their shin on the edge of the box. A great cue for this to get people to jump a little higher and avoid the edge of the box is “Land Soft”. If the athlete is doing a quiet box jump they are landing on the balls of their feet and absorbing the jump as opposed to landing flat footed and hitting hard.
4. Use your arms – While most of the power from the jump comes from the opening of the hip, some of the power from the jump comes from driving the hands forward and upward in a quick swing. Get people to use their arms in a quick coordinated movement for maximum effect. A quick note is that some people will hit their hands on the edge of the box if they are really aggressive with their arms. The fix? Lower box height.
5. Jumpers vs. Leg Tuckers – Coaches should know what i’m talking about here. There are two types of box jumpers. People who jump and spring onto the box with an athletic stance, and then those who no matter what height the box is, they will pull their legs up to their butt like a plane retracting their landing gear to make their final approach to the top of the box. With leg tuckers, they will ride the jump right to the bottom of the squat and bounce out of the bottom, usually accompanied with the loud hard landing as previously mentioned in point # 3. You want to coach people to land on the box in an athletic stance, and not all crumpled up like they are in the bottom of a squat. A good rules is that you should jump and land from the same position.
6. Visualize your target – When people start getting sloppy with their box jumps, what tends to happen is that their feet start landing partially on the box. This can be a problem, and then next thing you know, someone has donated more skin to the edge of the box and a painful shin bash occurs. As a coach, you want to remind the athlete to have both feet in the middle of the box, and by doing this, there is a greater margin for error, and they will be less likely to trip off the side of the box.
7. Jumps vs. Step ups. Box jumps are scary for some people, and if you have this type of person then why are you box jumping anyway? If you cannot overcome the fear, then just have the people step up on a box. If you cannot effectively jump to a 8 inch box, then don’t you think you would be better served stepping up to 16 inch box? If fear is in the picture, then have your client do a box step, you will get a greater range of motion and twice as much work being done with little risk for injury.
8. Avoid high repetition box jump workout – As an athlete if your coach or your gym programs high repetition workouts involving box jumps then it may be time to look for a new gym, or take a pass on the workout. These dynamic plyometric movements will get riskier as you fatigue and the cumulative bounding effect is what will hurt your tendons and ligaments. For a more detailed funny explanation Check out our friend Beastmodaldomains
With these tips, you should avoid the common pitfalls of the box jump. We don’t want to be injured, and we sure don’t want to hurt our clients. In Mark’s Gym, we don’t have any boxes higher than 24 inches, because quite frankly we don’t need them to elicit the response we want, so let’s stop conducting silly training sessions and train smart.