Updated: Jul 30, 2020
“Apples, pears, peaches, plums, tell me when your birthday comes.” Remember skipping hot peppers, naming the months until you reached your birth month? Or maybe you liked “A… My Name Is Alice” better. Jumping rope was fun in grade school, but you don’t have to give it up when you get older. In fact, it can have many benefits, like improving your cardiovascular fitness, losing weight, and building stronger ankles.
If you haven’t jumped for years, you’ll be surprised how much coordination and stamina it takes. Take things slowly at first. You might even want to start out with lower-impact activities first to condition your ankles, like biking, swimming, or stair stepping. Once your ankles are a bit more limber, you can take it up a notch.
Wear sturdy shoes with lots of cushioning for the impact of your jumps. Cross trainers work well, but if you have arch issues, be sure to wear your orthotics, too. Wood floors, a sheet of plywood, or an impact mat are better surfaces to skip rope on than cement (too hard), grass (grabs at your feet—sprains) or a trampoline (throws you off balance).
Choose a rope that has some heft; it makes a better arc. If you stand on the center, the handles should reach just under your armpits. Make sure you have enough room above your head, keep your elbows close to your body, and start swinging and jumping. Your feet should lift a few inches off the floor—just enough for the rope to swing through. Land lightly on the balls of your feet. Rising on your toes and springing up helps strengthen the muscles and tendons in your feet and legs and builds stronger ankles.
Start out with 30 seconds of jumping at a time, interspersed with marching or walking. In fact, your workout should probably not consist just of skipping rope. Ten minutes of solid jumping may be about the max. Build jumping rope into a routine that includes other movements as well, and cross train with other activities on alternate days.
At Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC, we may even recommend activities like jumping rope as part of rehab after healing from an ankle injury or surgery. If you have questions about technique or want guidelines for including it in your routine, call our office in Metairie, LA, at (504)-708-4810.