For many athletes, trainers, coaches, and scouts, the vertical jump is one of the best tests of pure power and athleticism. It’s used in almost all combines and fitness tests as an instant indicator for overall athletic ability. If you’re looking to stand out from the rest of the pack and grab a coach’s / scout’s attention, then a really high vertical jump is a great way to do it. Apply the strategies below and watch how your vertical jump height can increase instantly.
The first and easiest way to improve your vertical jump height is to work on your technique. First and foremost, stay balanced as you crouch down into your load position. Keep your weight on your mid foot, keep it equal on both sides, and maintain an equal amount of flexion in your ankles, knees, and hips. This “load” position should look similar to that of a squat or deadlift.
Once you’ve mastered the load position, you can practice using the strength-shorten cycle which is essentially your body’s natural rubber-band mechanism. This cycle is what allows you to transfer energy from a stretched muscle to a concentric muscle contraction for an explosive boost. Think of a tennis ball: the harder and faster you throw it at the ground, the higher and faster it will bounce back.
So to train this mechanism, work on “pulling” yourself down to the ground into your load position as fast as possible. This stretches the leg muscles as you drop down allowing the rubber band effect to happen. It’s wise to practice this multiple times before actually exploding upward into your vertical jump.
Improve your hip and shoulder mobility. This will accomplish 2 things:
First, hip flexors and shoulder extensors tend to be overactive in many people. When they are overactive, it causes tightness and restriction in the prime mover muscles of the hips and shoulders. If you can loosen these up, the primary mover muscles can generate more power and lead to a higher jump.
Secondly, tightness in the hips and shoulders will often lead to a weak core. When your core is weak, your body is weak. So much of our strength and drive is generated from a strong core.
For more information on muscle imbalance or soft tissue problems you can reach out to our physiotherapists and massage therapists.
3. Post Activation Potentiation (PAP)
PAP primes the body for explosive movements. Performing a heavy strength exercise before your vertical jump test will prepare your body for a maximum force contraction.
To take advantage of this, perform 1-2 reps at 90% of your 1 rep max squat or deadlift. Allow your body 5-10 minutes to recover before performing your deadlift.
4. Spinal Adjustments
Did you know that spinal adjustments can actually increase muscle force? A recent study in The Journal of Experimental Brain Research shows an increase in muscle electrical activity readings of almost 60% and a 16% increase in absolute force measures. There was also a 45% increase in the ‘drive’ from the brain to the muscle (the degree to which the brain can activate that particular muscle). This was all a result of spinal adjustments removing pressure on the nerves and stimulating the input to the muscles, resulting in increased contraction and strength.
For more information on how spinal adjustments can improve strength and performance, contact the chiropractors at APEX.
5. Psychological State
Many of us have heard this before, but it will often go overlooked. Visualization and mental state are key components to any physical activity or athletic performance. New research shows that effectively visualizing an explosive movement before performing that explosive movement, for example, leads to increased motivation, and improved muscle contraction and coordination.
Other research in colour therapy has found that visualizing a deep red colour or actively staring at a deep red colour before a short bust muscle contraction can actually increase adrenaline levels in the body.
Author: Dr. Jason Yakimishyn – Oakville sports chiropractor