April 8th, 2011

Box Jumps

Beware, this is long, but I think it is worth your time.

In light of our recent heartbreaking box jump injury I am feeling the need to talk some box jump nitty gritty. Here are the basics. There are a few ways to attack these babies. First, is the step up-step down method. This offers the athlete the least intimidating and least risky way to get up and down off the box. It does not train the explosive knee, ankle and hip extension that a jumping version does, but it allows a newer or more cautious athlete to still get some good work done in a WOD. Next, we have the jump up-step down version. This method trains the explosive component of the movement that is the hallmark of the box jump. While providing the power and coordination of the jump it also minimizes the risk on the descent back to the ground. It lacks some of the coordination and agility of our final option, the super speedy jump up-jump down version of the movement. This type of box jump is by far the fastest and I believe has the most potential to train the physical abilities that we are shooting for on the box jumps. It also has the most inherent risk due to the potential to get out of control and due to the rapid and forceful stretch/contract sequence in the calves and Achilles during the quick bounce off the ground.

Now that we have explored the options lets talk about what is the best option for you. Many of you will remember the days in the garage when the only options I gave our athletes were step up-step down and jump up-step down. In recent days as people have desired to speed up times and increase work capacity we have gotten away from this policy and more and more people are employing the jump up-jump down method. Here is my official stance on the matter. I believe that for the newer athlete or one who is not comfortable jumping up on a box the step up method is the best fit. For those beyond that point I believe that the jump up-step down provides the most training effect while minimizing risk. The jump up-jump down method in my opinion should really be reserved for those looking to be competitive in the sport of CrossFit and even at that, should possibly be saved for game day performances.

How did I come to this opinion? First, I have seen enough people struggle with the coordination of the jump up-jump down method and rake shins, twist ankles, hurt knees (me) etc… This is why I originally did not allow them at all. After our recent box jump injury I have been doing my own informal research and have heard of enough other athletes getting the same torn achilles injury that I am beginning to feel there is a connection between the jump down method and this particular injury. I believe that most of these are probably occurring at the point at the bottom of the jump down when the tendon becomes the most stretched and then is forced to contract for the next jump. The Achilles rupture is a very crazy injury. Often coming “out of the blue” doing seemingly simple tasks that have been done many times before without injury such as jogging, stepping to catch a baseball or jumping during a basketball game. These are all ways that I have heard of people incurring this same injury. So in reality anyone who is active at all is at some risk of it and stepping down off of the box will not eliminate that risk, but I do believe that it will limit the risk of this injury and others that can occur.

I have gotten long winded. Where do we officially stand? You get to decide what type of box jump is best for you. Physical fitness is a mental journey as well as a physical one. You need to weigh the risks and the benefits of everything we do in the gym and be an active participant in deciding how to put together all of the WODs we do. How does that bar feel for  50 reps? Is the med ball too heavy or too light? Are you ready for the 24″ box?  How about chest to bar pull ups? Take charge of your fitness (including your box jumps) and decide what you want to get out of your WOD each day! Thanks for listening. Just had to get it off my chest.

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 5 minutes of:
165 pound Squat clean
165 pound Jerk

Post rounds and reps completed to comments.


13 Responses

  1. Good luck in surgery today Brandie!

  2. Good Luck Brandie!

    • Good luck to Brandie (and her Doctors) today. We will keep you in our prayers and hope for a quick recovery.

  3. Stein road WOD #2:

    We found a big ramp up to a building with a switchback in the middle. It was about 40 yards. At the top of the ramp was a wall about 4 ft high that we had to jump over. This is about as parkour as we get. Then we were at the top of
    the stairs that led down to the beginning.

    We did 5 rounds of running up the ramp, jumping over the wall and the following:

    Casey: 15 pushups per round: 7:24
    Annie: 20 air squats per round: 6:29
    Sadie: 5 air squats per round: 6:00
    Zoey: 5 jumping jacks per round (untimed)

    • Nice work Steins! There was a Triathalon going on when we arrived (Lavaman 2013! I am so there) but Marguerite and I were NOT mistaken for competitors. Might have been the 2 pood beer cooler I was carrying around.

      • Ha! Glen, you always make me laugh. I hope you guys are having a great time and getting lots of sun! We kind of found Ramona and thought of you!

  4. 17 squat clean & jerks 64#

  5. Lovin’ the Stein road WODs. Keep it up!

  6. 17 + 1 clean R’d

    Shawn, you are amazing!! 32 yesterday, and 31 today!! He looked like he could have done those all day long!! Nice work!!

  7. 17 – 70#


  8. Shawn,
    Legit score! 32 is awesome. Nice work.

  9. thanks for the research regarding the box jumps. I wont feel so bad when I step up, step down!!!

  10. Jeff,
    Well stated on your thoughts of box jump progression. The place for the jump up-jump down is definitely competition or blazing through a WOD specifically fighting against the clock of your previous PR. The emphasis of the BJ is that explosive extension. Therein lies the athletic development. Jumping down? Yeah, not so much, and as you stated, lots of risk to both shins and tendons. Beautiful.
    Very similar is the use of the clean. For a player that is overly inflexible and unable to catch in the receiving position, the clean high pull will work the explosive potential equally well. They can use many other moves to squat and train the legs…without damaging wrists or looking awful in a bottomed out F squat on their toes!

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