Does Running Stairs Increase Your Vertical Jump?
To excel at basketball, volleyball, football and basebal, you need to be able to jump well. Even in daily life, you might find yourself jumping on occasion to reach for a tree branch or catch a flying disk in the park. This skill takes strength, coordination and power all rolled into one. Running stairs is a high-intensity activity that not only burns calories but can also improve your hops.
Mechanics Behind Jumping
Jumping involves multiple movement patterns with the joints in the lower body, such as hip flexion and extension, and knee flexion and extension. Hip flexion takes place when you move your thigh toward your stomach. Hip extension takes place when you move your thigh backward. Knee flexion takes place when you bend your knee and move your heel backward, and knee extension takes place when you straighten your leg. This requires you to use major muscles like the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. Running the stairs involves progressive upward stepping with the legs. This in turn strengthens all the leg muscles, so it does in fact help with jumping ability.
The weight of the body alone provides good resistance to get an initial muscle-building effect with stair running. After regular bouts of training, your body will quickly adapt to this stress and you will not make any further progress. This is where added resistance comes into play. By wearing a weighted vest for example, your weight will increase, and this will tax your muscles with more emphasis. You also have the option of strapping on ankle weights or holding dumbbells in your hands. This will place more work on your upper body muscles as well.
Calf Muscle Trick
The calf muscles, which consist of the gastrocnemius and soleus, sit on the back of the lower legs and produce a motion called plantar flexion. This takes place when you point your toes downward. Strong calves are paramount for getting a burst of power off the ground during jumping. You automatically work the calves when running up stairs, and by running on your tiptoes, you can increase the effect.
Stepping on every step allows you to move up a staircase at a rapid pace. By slowing down and stepping up every two steps, you will work your muscles with more emphasis. Stretching your leg out farther is similar to doing a lunge exercise on the ground. The difference is, you are performing it at an inclined angle so your muscles have to work harder.
Plyometrics involve a slow lengthening of a muscle, followed by a fast, explosive movement. This type of training is at the cornerstone of workouts to improve vertical jump. For stair runs, you have multiple plyometric exercises to choose from. For example, instead of running up the stairs normally, hop up them. Include variations like hops on two feet, hops on every other step, single-foot hops and hopping as many steps as possible with each jump.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images