March Madness is officially underway! Even if your vertical jump is more suited to picking brackets than dunking with the top college players, there’s still hope. Russ Beier is a functional, strength/conditioning coach and cofounder of Carbon World Health. He has a three-part balanced system for improving your vertical leap. Today we look at the flexibility component. Next week in Part 2, Beier introduces us to the strength and power components.
Did you know tight hip flexors can keep you grounded? “The problem we have with the hip flexors during the vertical jump is that in the large majority of exercisers and gamers, the hip flexors are usually extremely tight,” Beier explains. “Because we’ve become a society that sits around all day (in school, at work, in front of the computer, watching TV, etc.), the hip flexors have a tendency to become contracted and tight, almost pulling us into an anterior [forward] tilt.”
Beier says tight, contracted hip flexors hurt our vertical jump in two ways:
- A tight, contracted muscle usually inhibits its antagonist [opposing muscle], in this case the glutes, which is an integral muscle in the vertical jump. A jumper with a weaker, inhibited glute maximus doesn’t jump very high. Also, a weak glute makes the hamstring work harder, which results in more hamstring strains.
- A tight, contracted hip flexor places resistance on our vertical jump by preventing full hip extension. A lack of hip extension = poor vertical jump.
Increase flexibility with this HIP FLEXOR STRETCH:
- Contract the glute of the back lifted leg, gently pushing hips forward
- Hold this controlled contraction for 1 second, then release
- Perform 10 reps
- Switch sides
- Perform twice per week
Next week, take flight by adding strength and power to your vertical jump!