If you suffer with knee pain or any other knee concerns, you shouldn’t jump blindly into jump training, otherwise known as plyometrics. (But, for the record, no one should!)
First, clear the training modality with your doctor, then follow some of these plyo best practices from celebrity and NCSF-certified personal trainer Ridge Davis. The good news: according to Davis, those with knee concerns can complete common plyometric moves safely — it’s all about making modifications, maintaining proper form, and doing your workout homework. You can start by checking out Ridge’s top tips and exercise swaps below.
Assess Your Workout Surface
To soften the impact of plyometric training on your knees, Davis suggests avoiding hard surfaces, like concrete or asphalt, and opting for flat (important!) grass fields or astroturf instead. Rubber flooring can also work — but you should check in with your trainer to ensure you’re purchasing the proper product.
Choose a Shoe With Shock Absorption
Different workouts call for different shoes, and opting for the right type of shoe is especially important during plyo workouts. For plyometric moves, Davis suggests choosing a shoe that has proper shock absorption, as well as sufficient heel and arch support. Davis says the shock absorption will prevent the knees from taking aggressive impact, while the heel and arch support will help keep the ankle stable in landings, preventing the knees from collapsing in landings.
Work on Your Soft Landings
Whether you’ve taken 300 or only three HIIT classes, chances are you’ve heard this phrase come out of your workout instructor’s mouth: “Soft landings!”
And yes, they’re reminding you for a very good reason. “The main focus for jump-focused plyometric moves is a soft and secure landing,” Davis said. This also includes making sure your glutes are strong — Davis explains that if your glutes are weak, your knees could cave in and create a torque on the knee joint, leading to injury or pain. “Focus on the landing, staying in the heel and knees pushing outward,” Davis added.
Drop the Jumping and Modify
While plyometric training might refer to jump training, you actually don’t have to jump to complete a plyometric workout. “Plyometric moves are moves that can be quick and explosive,” Davis said, and he suggested omitting jumping moves altogether as an option to make your plyo workout less demanding on the knees. “Kettlebell/DB swings, medicine-ball slams, and battle-ropes slams are fantastic plyo moves that get overlooked,” he explains.
You can also edit and modify traditional jumping moves — ahead, Davis demonstrates three knee-friendly modifications to consider adding to your routine.