The original name for plyometric was jump training which was a training method first recognised in the 1960’s when Russian athletes achieved great track and field success at the Olympics. The term Plyometric was not used until an American athletic coach studied the Russian training methods. He used this term as it best described the quickness and power. It is therefore recognised as a training method that develops speed, strength and explosive power.
How does it work?
Plyometric training involves the use of explosive repetitive movements. Common exercises used are tuck jumps, box jumps, squat jumps, burpees and jumping lunges. The aim of the training is to create maximal force production in a small amount of time. This means you will work hard during the exercise and your muscles will fatigue relatively quickly.
When undertaking plyometric exercise you are working fast twitch muscles fibres which are appropriately designed for speed and power. They fatigue quickly as they are not efficient at using oxygen. Plyometric training aims to increase the strength and efficiency of your fast-twitch fibres.
As you initiate a jump your muscles are first lengthened under your body weight. This is called an eccentric muscle contraction as the muscle is lengthened and placed under tension. A muscle that is first lengthened under load is then able to produce a stronger muscle contraction. The contraction to propel you into the jump is known as a concentric muscle contraction. When you land from a jump, your muscles get a stretch. That gives your next jump even more power. The combination of stretching and contracting your muscles develops greater strength than just an isolated muscle contraction.
So what are the benefits?
- Increase rate of muscle recruitment
- Increase tendon strength
- Improved co-ordination
- Improvement in neuromuscular system speed – faster rate of muscle activation
Conditions that we commonly use plyometric training
Returning to running after injury or prolonged absence. Adding plyometric exercises to your routine prepares your tendons for accepting greater loads. Tendons adapt to these loads and get stronger, therefore reducing your risk of developing tendon pain. A useful exercise to try is ‘lateral hops’
As mentioned in one of our previous blogs ‘Ankle sprain’ plyometrics are a useful exercise progression for speed, co-ordination and returning to sport specific activities. This can help prevent secondary injuries and long term ankle instability.
Tendons are used to the daily loading that is placed through them and they are strong enough to manage these loads. However, should we increase the amount of activity or load that is placed through our tendons they can start to become painful. Plyometrics can help to prevent tendon pain by keeping them subjected to greater loading. It can also be used during rehabilitation of a painful tendon.
The shoulder joint relies on muscles, ligaments and tendons to drive movement and provide relative stability. Plyometric shoulder exercises are useful for developing strength, stability and co-ordination. Exercises may include wall push off, overhead forward throw onto wall, seated ball throw against a wall.
Lower limb surgery
In addition to the previous points, plyometrics are utilised for movement re-education, control and shock absorption. This is an essential part of ligament reconstruction rehabilitation and return to play protocols.
Fay Pedler physiotherapists
Make an appointment with one of the Fay Pedler team if you would like expert professional advice on how plyometrics can be utilised in your rehabilitation and injury prevention programmes. We don’t just want to get you better; we want to keep you there.