Plyometric exercises as part of a physiotherapy programmeAfter a knee or lower limb injury or operation, your physiotherapy rehabilitation programme will be heavily influenced by the things you want to be able to get back to doing. If your goals include running or playing a sport where you have to land and push off through your legs, change direction rapidly with control or generate explosive force in your legs, then plyometric exercises will be a vital component of your rehab and return to sport.

What are plyometric exercises?

Plyometric exercises  are essentially ‘jump training’, requiring your muscles to generate their maximum force in repeated short cycles. Many uninjured athletes include plyometric exercises as part of their training to boost their performance but as a physiotherapist I often recommend plyometric drills to my patients towards the end of their rehab programme. It can help with restoring the balance, strength, power and reaction speed that they’ll need for their particular sport and also helps prevent future injuries.

Plyometric training occurs right at the end stage of rehab as the exercise drills themselves are complex and require skilled co-ordination to be performed safely and effectively. You also need to have built up sufficient strength and landing control to safely absorb the force that plyometrics generate. So the intensity of any plyometric training programme needs to be built gradually and should only be performed when you are completely pain free and have excellent strength and control around your ankles, knees and hips.

It’s not just about jumping up and down. The type and intensity of the plyometric drills prescribed will also be different for different sports and influenced by the athlete’s own body mass. So this kind of information is all taken into account when planning a programme. A skilled sports physiotherapist will be able to introduce the right exercises at the right time for you and help you to build up the exercise intensity safely in a way which helps you to meet your goals.

To give you an idea of a what a plyometric exercise programme might include here are some examples:

Box jumps jumping up onto a box or step or down from a box or step.

Lateral jumps – side to side bounding or jumping from one leg to another

Squat jumps Lowering your body into a squat and jumping into the air, landing softly.

It’s worth saying that plyometric exercises aren’t restricted to the lower body either. It’s all about engineering your body to better create explosive power, so boxers, for example spend a lot of time using upper body plyometric exercises like clap press ups. This is why it’s so important that a plyometric programme is bespoke for you, your body mass and your sport (or other goals).

A carefully planned programme of plyometric exercises will help you to return to your sport safely and run faster, jump higher and kick further, all with greater control.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions at all!

The Physiofit Team.