Why Should You Bend Your Knees When You Hit the Ground After a Jump?

Many physical activities and sports require jumping. When you land following a jump, your knees are at risk for injury because a great deal of force is placed on your bones, muscles and joints. This force can lead to strains, sprains and muscle tears. The Fremont Area Medical Center reports that serious knee injury can occur when you do not land correctly, giving your legs the opportunity to absorb the shock from the jump. Bending your knees is one important technique to reduce your risk of injury.

A woman in mid jump. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Bending Knees

When you use a proper landing technique following a jump, you can greatly reduce your risk of injuring your knees. The Fremont Area Medical Center notes that when you land after a jump, your body may experience a force that is equal to five times your body weight. When you balance that force by bending your knees, other areas of your leg help absorb the shock so your knees are more protected. When you jump, align your knees forward and bend them as you land. This allows your thighs and calves to help absorb the landing equally, taking much of the force off of your knee joints.

Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis is the medical term for an injury to the tendon that connects your knee to your shin. This injury is commonly referred to as jumper's knee because it occurs frequently among athletes that jump a lot for their sport. However, anyone can get patellar tendinitis. If you develop patellar tendinitis, you will experience knee pain that gets sharper or more intense when you exercise, and may also get in the way of your daily activities. In addition to learning the proper bent-knee landing technique, strengthening the rest of your leg muscles may help prevent this jumping injury.

Torn ACL

Improper jumping can lead to a tear in your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. Your ACL is the ligament that connects your thigh to your shin and crosses at your knee. This ligament also helps stabilize your knees. The Fremont Area Medical Center notes that 70 percent of all ACL injuries occur when landing from a jump. A torn ACL will prevent you from participating in your sport for a long period of time as the injury heals. Often, a torn ACL requires surgery to correctly repair it. Landing with your knees bent will help reduce your risk of a torn ACL, as will strengthening your hamstrings.

Recommendations

If you are unsure that you are using the proper bent-knee landing technique, ask your coach or other fitness expert to show you the proper way to land after a jump. Practice the landing technique using tiny jumps until you get the hang of it. Watch yourself jump in front of a mirror so you are aware of areas that need improvement. If you experience any type of pain in your knee following a jump, stop the activity and rest. If the pain persists, or if you hear a popping sound as you land, seek medical attention immediately.

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