Biomechanics of the Vertical Jump, Part 3

The last article reviewed is “The Shock Attenuation role of the Ankle During Landing From a Vertical Jump,” by Ted S. Gross and Richard C. Nelson. For this study 11 male recreational basketball players were used. Two distinct types of landing styles were observed.

One style allowed the heal to contact the ground sharply where the other style had more of a cushioning effect and little or no heel contact. (Gross and Nelson) A description of the landing in the vertical jump by the author of the study is as follows. “Subjects dorisflexed approximately 15 degrees from maximum plantarflextion during the final stages of the flight phase as metatarsal contact with the landing surface was anticipated. Metatarsal contact initiated a large transient recorded by both the force plate and accelerometers. Ankle dorsiflexion continued after metatarsal contact as subjects maintained balance and slowed downward motion of the heel. A second transient was associated with the cessation of heel motion for heel contact landing subjects. The magnitude of a second acceleration transient was distinctly related to landing style. (Gross and Nelson) Concluded from the results were that non-heel contact landers may prevent long term injury, although further study is needed to determine the effect on the forefoot due to increased loads. (Gross and Nelson)

Understanding the biomechanics of the vertical jump is important to coaches and athletes in sports that require the skill. This knowledge can lead to better jumping technique and or the prevention of injury. In conclusion, important things to remember are; elastic components of the muscles play an important role in the vertical jump (Anderson and Pandy), transfer of mechanical energy goes from proximal to distal joints, (Prilutsky and Zatsiorsky), a more sport specific type of jump is better for jump training and arm swing in the jump can enhance performance (Ridgway), and non-heel contact in landing may decrease the chance of injury (Gross and Nelson).

Two of the studies reviewed had contradicting result. One study claimed that the biarticularity of the gastrocnemius was well designed for movement such as jumping.

(Van Soest, Schwab, Bobbert and Van Ingen Schenau). The other study down played the significance of biarticularity. It seems that further study on this topic is needed.

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