Here’s a way to ‘skip’ your workout

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Revathi Murugappan

THE STAR – Do you remember skipping or skipping rope when you were a child?

If you’re middle-aged like me, you might remember weaving long skipping ropes by putting on hundreds of rubber bands.

To make the rope stronger, we used double bands, and to make it pretty, we would mix and match the colors.

Nowadays, if you have been to parks and open spaces, you may have noticed that more and more people are skipping rope for fun and exercise.

There are also plenty of social media posts about new tricks that hobbyists and celebrities are trying to skip.

It must be something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic as we relive our childhoods and engage in an activity that was once considered child’s play.

But a jump rope is indeed a great tool to help keep you moving, assuming your knee and ankle joints are healthy and pain free.

It offers a full body cardiorespiratory workout, which can be both high impact or low impact, and burns calories in a short period of time.

As a bonus, it improves hand-eye-foot coordination and helps with weight loss.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a person weighing 70 kilograms can burn up to 420 calories by jumping for 30 minutes.

You would have to run 13.7 kilometers at the same time to burn the same amount of calories!

The only problem, as some students told me, is that it takes time to coordinate so many parts of the body to properly swing the rope.

Sports equipment has evolved rapidly since I was a child, and many types of jump ropes are now available.

The material of the rope can be plastic, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), leather, cotton or adjustable beads, while the handle can be made of wood, plastic, etc.

The more sophisticated even come with fitness trackers, time counters, and weights for added intensity.

Grips are important, but using the right kind of rope or cable makes all the difference when jumping.

Although there is a plethora of online sites available to purchase these strings, it is best to get the right “fit” at a physical sports store.

A knowledgeable salesperson should be able to explain the best ways to use a jump rope and whether you will need any special shoes.

If you are a beginner speed should not be your goal, so a longer string is ideal for allowing less than perfect timing.

To size your rope, stand in the center of the rope with your feet together while holding the handles with your arms close to your body.

Move your elbows outward and to the side until the rope is taut.

The length of the rope (not including the handles) should be just under your armpit.
To get the perfect length, test the rope (check if you are allowed to do this in the store as there are different COVID-19 standard operating procedures).

If the rope continues to hit your feet, it is too short; and if the rope is dragging on the ground and slowing your swing, it’s probably too long.

If you are still hesitant to go out due to the pandemic, you can purchase your rope online.
Just add three feet to your height and that length should be enough.

Here’s a quick reminder if you plan to try skipping rope after a long hiatus (do a few warm-ups first!):

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and the rope behind your feet. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Grip the handles loosely with your fingers. Do not use the lethal grip involving your palms, making your knuckles white.

A loose grip will allow a natural and more efficient turn of the rope. Your wrists and elbows should always stay close to the body.

Use your hands to pull the rope over your head in one motion.

As you swing the rope forward, you also move your wrists up slightly so that the rope lands between your ankles and your knee.

You may want to practice this movement a few times and see where the rope falls before trying to jump over it.

Once you get this movement, lift both feet slightly off the ground with the knees bent and jump over the rope. Land on the balls of your feet with your body fairly straight.

Again, practice a few times and once you get the hang of it, do it continuously.
Many beginners make the mistake of lifting their knees too high when jumping over the rope and this tires them out.

It really only takes a little lift off the ground to jump over the rope.

If you prefer to try the moves first, you can start with “shadow jump” or “pretend jump” without the rope – boxers tend to use this method as a warm-up.

Yes, you will look silly, but it’s a great way to practice your jump and
appropriate form.

Once you are comfortable with your “pretend” jumps, add the rope and start with a 30 second set.

Rest a minute before repeating. You can try doing five sets at once at the start.

As you improve, you can add more sets, pick up the pace, and get creative.

Keep in mind that it is best to jump on a surface that will allow you to land smoothly and cushion the impact on the joints, such as a rubber mat or grass.

This means that hard surfaces such as concrete, or even rugs, are not ideal, as they put a lot of pressure on the knee and ankle joints.

A safety tip: make sure there is nothing around you that could cause you to trip or accidentally fall.

Here are some common mistakes that occur while skipping rope:

– Use of the arm and not the wrist. It’s all about flicking the wrist. Your hands should be held close to the front of your pelvic bones. The elbows help by performing small pumping movements in combination with the wrist work. The only exception to this rule is when you swing the rope for the very first time – this will require some arm movement. Afterwards, the arms just stabilize the wrists.

– Arch your back while jumping. Good form is crucial to avoid injury. Unfortunately, too many people realize this too late. Many jumpers tend to lean forward, roll their shoulders, and bend their backs to pass the rope. You should jump up and down, just like you would on a trampoline.

– Jump too high or kick back. This is not a high jump competition – you only need a few inches off the ground. The ropes aren’t that thick, so there’s no need to do big jumps and run out of steam. Keep the jumps small and neat.

You will look great and feel great.


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