Using a Jump Rope to Improve Running

by Gabriel “gaberock” Avilla, CF-L2

Building on top of last week’s blog post on finding the right jump rope for you, this week I will be focusing on how you can use a jump rope to improve your running technique. The connection may not seem obvious at first, so let’s break down the concept into parts you build upon.

Review of Pose Running

Pose Running is based on the Pose Method®, where we determine the key poses. In running, there is only one pose, which we call the Running Pose (S-stance). The Running Pose is a whole-body pose that vertically aligns shoulders, hips and ankles with the support leg, while standing on the ball of the foot. This creates an elastic S-like shape of the body. The runner then changes the pose from one leg to the other by falling forward and pulling the support foot under the hips, allowing gravity to assist in falling forward while the other foot drops down freely, in a change of support. These repeated motions create forward movement with the least amount of effort while resulting in faster race times and reduced injuries.

Alternating Single Unders

While Double Unders have risen to the most common type of jump rope work performed in CrossFit affiliates, many of us started our journey with Single Unders. A Single Under is when the rope rotates around you once while you execute a jump, and a Double Under is when the rope rotates around you twice. Key points of performance for both movements are tall jumps executed with your elbows tucked into close your waist, turning the rope with your wrists instead of your elbows or shoulders, jumping with soft knees, and starting and landing with the balls of your feet. 

Keeping all of these points of performance in mind, I want you to focus on the balls of your feet. Without using a rope, perform the Alternating Pose Pull. Here is a video review of how to perform the drill:

As the video indicates, performing the alternating Pose Pull will help build the muscle memory needed to stay on the balls of your feet, pull your feet underneath instead of in front of you, and maintain a relaxed yet steady upper body.

Putting it all together

Now that you have nailed the Alternating Pose Pull, grab your jump rope and integrate single unders into the drill. At first, complete the drill in place until you can perform steady sets of 20-30 jumps and/or start to feel like Rocky. Once you have that level of consistency, incorporate the Fall portion of the Pose Technique to generate forward movement. When performed correctly, you’ll seamlessly be able to perform single under while running forward. This drill is fantastic in using an external object (the jump rope) to dial in your Pose running technique. Remember to keep your hands loose (don’t death grip the jump rope handles!) and pull your heels towards your backside. The rope will prevent from you performing a “high knees” type of movement, which is an inefficient technique of running that uses your smaller hip flexor muscles compared to your larger hamstrings. Running with a jump rope is a great exercise you can easily integrate with your overall warm-up routine. Here’s a final video that explains the use of this drill. And yes, I used to wear tights that had galaxies and cats on them…you didn’t? Weird. No, you are.

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