Jumping rope is tremendous fun and good exercise at the same time.
It’s a great way to exercise the whole body without running through busy city streets or spending hours plodding on the treadmill.
Unfortunately, jumping rope can lead to shin splints and other injuries, disrupting your workout schedule. Pain in the front lower legs caused by heavy physical activity can lead to inflammation and weakness.
For some, shin splints – also called medial tibial stress syndrome – can cause significant discomfort and prevent any form of exercise. Evidence shows that they account for a high number of running injuries but can affect people who love jumping rope too.
Fortunately, this article is here to help. We discuss some of the best strategies to prevent shin splints and injuries while jumping rope. With these, you can go into rope-jumping sessions with more confidence. We then discuss treatment and recovery if you already have shin splints, helping you return to training faster.
As a beginner, it’s easy to make mistakes when jumping rope. However, this guide should enable you to avoid the most common problems and jump rope safely.
Prevention: The Best Strategies to Avoid Shin Splints and Injuries while Jumping Rope
So, how can you avoid shin splints and other injuries while jumping rope?
Surprisingly, the answer is “quite a lot.” While some people are more susceptible to shin splints than others, everyone can benefit from the following preventative strategies.
Choose The Right Shoes And Socks
First, choose the right shoes and socks. Some evidence suggests that people with rigid plantar arches are at a higher risk of developing shin splints. However, you can significantly reduce your risk by wearing shoes with the proper arch support that can absorb shock.
At the same time, socks should be breathable, moisture-wicking, and comfortable. Loose or worn-out socks may increase your risk of injury.
Warm Up Properly First
Another strategy to reduce your risk of shin splints while jumping rope is to warm up your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system before starting the exercise. Increasing blood flow and oxygen to the tissues makes them more robust against impact and may delay or eliminate the development of injury and inflammation.
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You can also jump rope gently for a few minutes at a low intensity.
Getting used to the rhythm and technique reduces the risk of jarring later.
Switch Up The Intensity
Another strategy is to adjust the intensity of your rope-jumping sessions. Hitting the body differently and keeping it guessing can help you avoid injury.
You can vary the intensity of rope jumping along several dimensions. Changing jumping sessions’ duration, speed, and frequency may be beneficial.
For instance, you might perform an intense workout on Tuesday and follow it up with a lighter one on Friday. Cycling at a high intensity level may reduce the risk of injury and give your body time to rest and repair between sessions.
You can also try varying your jumping style. For instance, alternating between fast and slow or high and low jumps can help some people. You can also experiment with shortening or lengthening your jumping exercises based on feedback from your body.
Taking rest days between sessions improves recovery. Beginners need to give their shins time to heal before the next session.
Use a Soft, Even Surface
Another pro tip for avoiding shin splints while jumping rope is to jump on a soft surface. Mats can reduce the impact on the lower legs, while hard surfaces increase the energy the shins need to absorb.
If you are prone to shin splints, don’t jump rope on gravel, asphalt, concrete, or hard dirt. Instead, choose something softer, like a wooden floor, a rubber mat, or grass. These surfaces absorb more of the impact, leaving you feeling significantly more comfortable.
Maintain Good Form
Believe it or not, maintaining proper form is another excellent way to reduce the risk of shin splints while jumping rope. Posture can affect the stress and strain you place on the lower legs while jumping.
For instance, bad form can cause you to land harder and flat-footed, which increases impact energy traveling through the shins. It can also lead to repetitive strain injuries of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the lower leg.
Good form when jumping rope requires you to:
Keep your head and shoulders up
Keep your chest out
Engage your core
Keep your elbows close to your sides
Relax your wrists
Keep your hands at waist level
Landing softly on the balls of your feet
Keeping your knees slightly bent to reduce the impact
Stretch and Cool Down
Lastly, post-workout stretching can reduce your risk of developing shin splints after jumping rope. Cooldowns help by slowly returning the body to its default state after a long workout while improving flexibility and fighting inflammation.
How you cool down is a personal choice. Options include static stretching of the calves, shins, ankles, and feet. You can also use some of the methods you used when warming up, such as cycling or elliptical training. Some regular rope jumpers use foam rollers on their lower legs to reduce soreness.
Treatment: What To Do If You Get Shin Splints While Jumping Rope
Even with the best preparation, some people will still develop shin splints and other injuries while jumping rope. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to treat them and hasten your recovery.
Shin splints will usually go away by themselves once you give your body a chance to recover. However, it can take a while, and during that time, you may experience significant discomfort, even walking around the house.
Massage The Lower Leg And Tendons
Massaging the lower legs and tendons is a great way to treat any shin splints you get after jumping rope. Using your fingers or a foam roller helps the blood vessels and surrounding tissues relax, relieving tension and stiffness considerably. Extra blood can flow to the affected areas, improving the body’s recovery capacity.
Use A Compression Sleeve Or Bandage
You can also treat post-rope-jumping shin splints with a compression sleeve or bandage. Wrapping the muscle snugly, but not too tightly, helps to support the muscles and tendons and reduce swelling and inflammation. In some cases, it may help the splints repair quicker, helping you get back in action faster.
Consult With A Doctor
Following rest, most shin splints should resolve by themselves. However, you should see a doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days. Physicians can prescribe painkillers and physiotherapy, depending on the severity of the injury.
If the pain is long-term and you’ve been resting, shin splints are an unlikely culprit, and you may have a different injury. Conditions such as tendonitis and Achilles heel issues from jumping rope take significantly longer to resolve.
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Another approach to treating shin splints is to take anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter medications, such as naproxen and ibuprofen. These temporarily reduce inflammatory blood markers in the shin, improving discomfort.
However, you shouldn’t take these drugs long-term unless instructed by your doctor. That’s because they can have nasty side effects, such as stomach bleeding.
Keep The Leg Elevated Above The Heart
Keeping the affected legs elevated above the heart can also help treat shin splints. As with painkillers, it works by reducing the inflammation in the affected tissue.
Resting And Applying Ice Packs
Lastly, resting your shins and applying ice packs is the best recovery strategy. Most rope jumpers will recover in a few weeks without strenuous, high-impact exercise. Ice packs reduce inflammation in the tissue, which can speed recovery in some people.
You can apply ice packs for up to 20 minutes several times daily. You can also place a hot compress on the affected area as another inflammation-reducing strategy.
As a general rule, discontinue exercise if you believe you have shin splints. Avoid returning to the activity that caused them too soon, as it may lead to a recurrence or complications.
When you are ready to return to rope jumping, gradually increase the intensity and duration. Eventually, the tissue in the shins will become acclimated to exercise, helping to prevent the condition from recurring in the future, but it takes time.
If you have ankle pain after rope jumping, you may need a longer rest period. Sprains typically require six to eight weeks to fully recover. During this time, you should not walk on the affected foot.
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Recovery: How To Resume Rope Jumping Safely After Shin Splints And Injuries
This last section explores how to resume rope jumping safely after shin splints or an injury. Here’s what to do:
Increase The Intensity Gradually
First, you can get back into rope jumping safely after shin splints by increasing the intensity gradually. Start with low-paced, low-impact jumps, or skip for a few minutes at a time. Avoid immediately engaging in marathon, hour-long sessions that could reactivate the injury.
You can also keep the complexity of your jumping low. Build up to high knees or double-unders once your fitness starts to improve again.
Listen To Your Body
Next, listen to your body. Don’t ignore discomfort during your workout. If you can feel pain in your shin or lower leg muscles, stop rope jumping and do something with a lower impact.
Also, look out for warmth, irritation, swelling, or tenderness. These are additional signs of shin inflammation, telling you that you should stop.
Continue To Follow Prevention Tips
You should also continue to follow the prevention tips and strategies outlined above. Continue caring for your lower legs by jumping on a mat and reducing the intensity and frequency of your sessions until you can cope with them. Always wear the proper footwear and warm up before starting a training session. Preventative steps will reduce the risk of shin splints and other injuries.
Add Lower Leg Strengthening Exercises To Your Routine
Finally, you can incorporate various lower-leg strengthening exercises into your routine. Calf raises, heel walks, and toe taps can improve flexibility and stability in the lower leg, making the tissue more robust against rope jumping and running.
Here’s how to perform each of these exercises safely:
Calf raises. Stand with your toes on a platform and your heels hanging off. Raise your body as tall as you can, standing on your toes, and then lower yourself down until you are standing flat again. Repeat this exercise up to 20 times for three sets. Carry weights in your hands if you want to increase the difficulty. (If you are a member of a local gym, you can also use a machine to perform this exercise.)
Toe tap. To perform a toe tap, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your foot off the floor and tap your toes on the ground as fast as possible for 10 to 15 seconds. Then switch feet. Repeat several times.
Heel walks. For heel walks, stand with your feet about a foot apart and lift your toes off the ground so that you are walking on your heels. Take 10 to 20 steps forward and then the same number backward to strengthen the front of the shin.
Having read this article, you’re in a much better position to prevent shin splints and other injuries while jumping rope. While you can’t reduce your risk to zero, you can cut it significantly with the right approach.
If we had one piece of advice for people jumping rope, it would be to build your fitness gradually. Save your mammoth sessions until you have several months of experience and lower leg strength training under your belt. Don’t rush into the most advanced classes and routines unless you are ready.