This Easter, hop, hop, hop like a bunny to keep your spine and body strong.
Ever wonder why rabbits are so fast and agile? Perhaps it is their ability to hop. Humans also have that ability, but we call it something else. Plyometrics.
Plyometrics is a group of exercises that consist of jumping and fast, high-powered moves that take muscles through their full range of motion, usually in a short period. These exercises use multiple muscle groups at the same time, and when done accurately and consistently, they can help increase both spine and muscle strength, endurance, caloric burning and your natural ability to hop just like our furry friends.
It’s just a hop, skip and a jump.
There is a plethora of plyometrics out there, along with different skill levels. Start easy and work your way up depending on your strength and conditioning. We all used to do them when we were little. Play activities like skipping, jumping jacks, hopscotch, jumping rope and running during a game of tag are all considered a type of plyometrics. That may be a good starting point if you haven’t done them for a while. Progression will include explosive, higher-intensity moves and more muscle group involvement. Here are a few activities to get you on your way to not only improve your spine strength but your hopping ability.
Start in the top of a push-up position with palms on the floor and balancing on toes. As quickly as possible, bring both legs under you and then jump up with your hands towards the ceiling. Softly land on the balls of your feet and then push both legs back into the start position. A modification of this is bringing one leg in at a time and standing up versus jumping. Repeat for 1 minute or 15 reps.
Start in the top of a push-up position with palms on the floor and balancing on toes. As quickly as possible, bend one knee up to your chest lightly balancing on the toe. Alternate legs back and forth at the same time while palms stay on the mat. A modification would be to bend each leg up separately. Repeat for 1 minute or 15 reps each leg.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Crouch down into a squat position and jump up as high as you can and then land softly on the balls of your feet. A modification would be to rise on your toes instead of jump. Repeat for 1 minute or 15 reps.
Overhead medicine ball throw
Stand with a weighted medicine ball suited for your strength level. Bring the ball to your chest with elbows tucked by your side. As quickly as possible, throw the ball up and then catch it bringing the ball back to your chest. A modification would be not to throw the ball, just lift it overhead. Repeat for 1 minute or 15 reps.
Plyometrics can be a welcome addition to any exercise routine to help prevent back pain as well as keeping muscles and tendons strong and body fat low. Start slow and work up to your individual fitness level. These exercises should challenge you and push you out of your comfort level and make you quick like a bunny.