I think it was in the era of Michael Jordon that the phrase “air time” really came into its own. And clearly, he was one of the all-time greats at hanging in the air as he nailed a shot on the basketball court. If I am not mistaken, there is still a line of Nike shoe (Air) that cashes in on this concept. And Nike Air Jordans were wildly popular back in the day.
All this is very cool. But aside from the coolness, what about this can we use as a take away for our own workouts?
Let’s say you put a few items in your exercise repertoire that give you “air time”. No need to panic here. You do not have to look like Michael Jordon. Not even close. I am just talking about adding in a few exercises like the ones explained below. That is, jump squats, leaps to the side, and trunk rotations in push-up position.
The point: In these exercises you leave your contact with the ground, either with your feet or even a hand/arm if in push-up position.
What does this do for you?
Turns out it’s a lot.
For one thing, leaving the ground, especially with your feet, is considered a “high impact” activity. That’s obviously because you have to come back down and land in some way. That impact produces strain on your bones. They respond by getting stronger over time. Turns out that bones respond to supporting weight and the force of muscles pulling on them. You are doing both when you jump up and then control the landing. Note: That’s why jogging or running are considered high impact activities. You actually leave the ground during a jogging or running stride. Walking is less impactful, but is still a weight bearing activity which is good for your bones.
There’s lots of other things going on. Having to stick a landing is going to prompt your body to use more muscle actions and reflexes. This will help you improve balance. It will also light up your nervous system and brain as it creates a new movement pattern. On top of that, it takes advantage of the elastic abilities of your tendons and strengthens those abilities.
All of these things work together to help you reduce your risk of falling, makes you more coordinated, and increases the precision of your day-to-day movements. That comes from creating stability as you shift your center of gravity, and increasing your muscle strength in many new directions.
Just another word about all this before I get to the exercises.
If you have had some bone loss and are classified as having “osteoporosis” or have already had a fracture because of it, doing these type of high impact activities is not recommended. The risk is too great for producing another fracture that way. Better to stick with walking, strength training, and balance training in a case like that.
OK. Let’s get on to the exercises.
Squat Jumps. Using your best squat-producing form, go down (see blog “Knee Safety, Back Safety, and Other Things“). Reminder: press your butt back first. As you come back up, incorporate a jump going straight up using both feet. Stick the landing, and immediately squat again and jump up again. Keep going for 10 times. (not shown…too hard to catch the air time on this one!)
Side Leap with One-legged Landing. Standing tall, bend your knees and leap directly to your right side. Stick the landing using only your right leg. Hold there, maintaining your balance. Then leap back to your original position with both feet on the ground. Leap to the left in a similar manner. Go back and forth, holding the landing as before, 10 times. You can go further with the leap each time as you get used to it. Note: You can also just leap side to side, eliminating going back to the original middle position.
Trunk Rotation in Push-Up Position. This is a little different in terms of body impact. Instead of a landing and creating impact, you are holding, creating shoulder stability, and using your core to maintain the balance of this position. Just wanted to include this one to give a different take on creating balance, stability, and muscle strength.
Instruction: Get in push-up position, arms extended. Take your right arm and bring it out and up so that you end facing to the side, and not the floor. Hold for a few seconds. Return to the starting position and do the same thing on the other side. Remember to breathe! Go back and forth 10 times, or as many as you can with good form.
You will feel the benefits that these exercises are giving you.
Side Leap 1
Side Leap 2
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