It’s the same whether you are talking about the Space Shuttle, a Skydiver, or a Box Jump; it’s all about the landing.
A failed landing in either of these situations can be problematic, obviously some more than others.
Since none of my readers own their own spacecraft, I will focus the balance of this article on one of my goats, Box Jumps.
My friends at CrossFit have noticed my reluctance to perform box jumps. At first, it had to do with a lack of mobility, a lack of power, and an overall lack of coordination. I suppose it also had to do with the fact that I hadn’t jumped for decades. It scared me.
However, in recent weeks I have felt compelled to master this movement. I must confess it hasn’t been easy overcoming this fear. I have noticed athletes much younger and stronger than myself seriously tearing up their shins on these plywood boxes. At my age, I have little desire to suffer from such a mishap.
Last Saturday during the open gym, I spent most of the hour gradually working my way up in height to jump 20 inches. Ironically, I was able to jump 20 inches high on bumper plates, but the plywood box still terrified me.
Fast-forward to Friday, we had an opportunity to work on our weaknesses in the gym. I decided that I would continue to pursue progress on 20-inch box jumps. As I struggled to launch myself from the floor, repeatedly flinching and not jumping, one of my buddies from the gym observed my behavior. He came over to talk to me, to encourage me and mentor me.
He asked me what the issue was. He has seen me jump 20 inches quite competently on rubber bumper plates, however, whenever I stand in front of the box I freeze. He looked me in the eye, and said, “you’re afraid of falling, aren’t you?” Being slightly embarrassed, I answered in the affirmative. He acknowledged my age as being a factor, not in regards to executing the jump, but in regards to the reality of falling being a serious hazard.
As a side note, it is worth mentioning, that falling is the second leading cause of accidental death worldwide and is a major cause of personal injury, especially for the elderly. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2010, 540,000 people died from falls.
So Freddys encouraged me to work on two specific issues related to box jumps. Landing and falling. We spent most of the time focused on landing.
First, he had me step up on a 20 inch box. Then he told me to jump off the box. He told me to pay particular attention to how I landed. I was landing in a somewhat erect position, that is to say, I was too vertical. He told me that I needed to land in a squat position, thereby dissipating the force of the impact through multiple joints, thereby easing the strain on my body as I landed upon my feet. I began with a 1/4 depth squat, then 1/2 and up to 3/4. The increasing depth affected the loading of my joints through the movement, and lessened the shock.
He had me repeat this several times, each time encouraging me to squat upon landing. As we progressed in this exercise, he encouraged me to rebound out of the squat to a full stance.
He then demonstrated jumping onto 20 inch box. He instructed me to watch his landing. Then he leapt onto a 24 inch box, followed by 36 inch box, each time he told me to focus my attention on how he landed. Freddys was landing upon the box in the exact same form that I had been landing on the floor. Now was my turn. I addressed the box and leapt upon it, landing in a full squat position.
I repeated this several times, eventually working the rebound to an upright position into the process. I now had gained a full understanding of this movement by breaking it down in reverse. This entire tutorial that I just described took place in less than five minutes.
Ironically, the lesson had less to do with athletic ability, and more to do with someone acknowledging the reality of my fear, and equipping me to confront it with confidence.
Get Defiant! Get Well!