Return to Jumping – Dr. Mark Rocca

by | Apr 23, 2021 | Podcast

Dr. Mark Rocca is a Chiropractor in Barrie, Ontario. He returns to the show today for an episode discussing exercises to help someone return to jumping or to start jumping if it is something you have not done since you were a kid! Check out the companion videos in the show notes

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Mark Rocca Progression for Jumping:


Start with a Hip Hinge with a Dowel

Rocca explains:

  • Place a dowel along your back with three points of contact: the base of the skull, the mid-back, and the tailbone.
  • Place one hand at the low back, and the other above the head and actively pull the dowel toward you
  • Firmly anchor your feet to the floor with your weight distributed evenly, then reach as far backward as you can with your butt while still maintaining your balance
  • You should feel tension build in your hamstrings as you reach
  • Knees can be straight, or softly bent, depending on how much range of motion you have: The key isn’t how far you go, but that you feel this in your hamstrings


Practice Foot Strength and Control

Rocca explains:

  • In this drill, both feet up are lined up at 12 o’clock, and a ball is placed between the heels
  • Lift the heels off the ground while firmly squeezing the ball, and focus on loading most of your weight on the big toes, then lower back down under control
  • This is a strength and control drill, so no bouncing or powering through
  • This will start to prep the tissues for the bigger loads that will be required for more explosive movements



Rocca explains:

Skipping is a great way to develop the springs in the feet and ankles. The main objective in this context is to catch and release energy. As far cueing, the big ones for me are:

  • being as quiet as possible (loud noises mean loss of energy)
  • focusing on the big toe, which should be the last body part to leave the ground on the way up, and the first body part to touch the ground on the way back down (this is critically important to stability of the foot and subsequent force transmission through the kinetic chain)

Low plyometrics not only develop the foot and ankle springs, but also increase the fitness of the tissues required in the bigger more forceful jumps.

Back and Shoulders Foam Roller Flexion

Rocca explains:

The arms and shoulders aid in pre-loading your tissues as you draw back into your hip hinge (think pulling back a slingshot), and help generate momentum as you take off and leave the ground (think releasing the slingshot). The motion of drawing the arms back and swinging them forward is a coupled motion with the thorax. This drill is not only one method of improving shoulder flexion with thoracic extension, but it will also let you know which of the two (or both) is potentially limiting your box jump:

  • Simply lay lengthwise along a foam roller, firmly anchor your feet to the floor with the feet, knees, and hips all stacked up
  • Keep as much spine in contact with the roller as possible, and flex the shoulders as far overheard as you can without discomfort
  • As you bring the shoulders overhead, forcefully exhale
  • This forceful breath will accomplish two things: the first is that it will help pin down your rib cage if the thorax isn’t extending well, and it will also help with force generation in the trunk, which will also assist in maximizing power generation with the box jump

Hip Extension and Lunge

Rocca explains: 

In order to maximize force production, we need to bring in the big guns. As we load up and release out of the hip hinge into our box jump, we require forceful hip extension. One of my go drills to improve or prepare the tissues for hip extension is the half kneeling position. This drill serves several purposes, but in this context it can be used as a hip flexor release and/or to increase neural drive through the posterior chain the glutes, hamstrings and plantar flexors are huge players here)..

  • Maintain an upright posture while reaching maximally through the big toe on the rear leg, and through the pinky finger on the lead hand
  • This reaching moment will really unlock this range of motion and get a good squeeze out of the muscles needed to explode out of the hole



Rocca explains:

After doing all the prep work, the key is to not over think things and just go for it. If you’re new to box jumps, start small and work your way up…jump up the stairs, up on to a curb, or anything you know you can make…once you’re comfortable making the jump, start to focus on a soft ninja-like landing, in an athletic position…if you’re landing too upright, you can find something higher to jump on, if you’re landing bunched up, find something shorter. The idea isn’t the absolute height, it’s the right height for you.

If we’re being super picky, my neck is hinged and my low back is slightly more rounded than I would ideally prefer in this video. I’ll chalk this up to a winter spent on the bike trainer (super common pattern in cyclists). The beauty of recording yourself, or having a coach, is identifying areas needing improvement. Every exercise is a test, and now I can clearly see some areas I can work on with my own training!


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