Jumping rope is considered a high-impact exercise because you lift your entire body weight off the ground and catch it on the balls of your feet as you land. This can help your shins, as well as other bones in your body, become stronger, but it can also lead to painful shin splints. Pair your jumping routine with shin exercises to help your shins get the most out of your jump-rope workout.
Building Your Bones
Men and women tend to lose bone mass as they age, although women lose it faster than men. High-impact exercises such as jumping rope help rebuild bone density, reducing your risk of osteoporosis. As you jump and land on the balls of your feet, your shin bones absorb much of the impact and start building bone. You reap the benefits throughout your body, including high-risk areas such as your hips and spine.
Reasons to Jump Rope
In addition to being a bone builder, jumping rope helps you develop strong muscles in your shins and calves. Unlike the kind of jumping rope you remember from the playground, jumping for exercise requires little movement. The only parts of your body to touch the floor are the balls of your feet, keeping your lower legs engaged throughout the jump-rope session. It doesn't take much jumping to help your bones, which is another benefit -- two to 10 minutes per day can make a difference.
To focus the brunt of the impact on your shins and calves, stick to proper jump-rope form. Bounce just a couple of inches off the floor on the balls of your feet -- enough to clear the rope, but not much more. This helps you jump at a high speed to raise your heart rate and have a powerful cardiovascular workout as well. Hold the rope handles out to each side with your elbows bent, turning only your wrists and hands to make the rope move; there's no need to swing your arms, which only slows you down. Landing on both feet, or standard jumping, is best when you're a beginner, but you can move up to more complicated moves, such as hopping on alternating feet with each swing or jumping from one side to another.
Preventing Shin Splints
It's possible for shin splints to develop from the major pounding your shins get while jumping rope. Shin splints cause pain in the muscles along the front of your leg; they're common in runners and people who jump repetitively on hard surfaces, especially those who are new to the exercise. To help prevent the problem, keep your shin muscles strong with additional exercises such as reverse calf raises, where you stand with your heel on the edge of a step and your toes hanging off. Lower your toes, holding onto the rail for balance, then lift your toes as high as you can. Perform two sets of 15. After building your muscles through jumping and reverse calf raises, it's likely your shin splints will disappear. If you have concerns about the pain in your shins or it becomes sudden and stabbing, stop exercising and consult your doctor.