Advantages & Disadvantages of Plyometric Exercises

Teenage boy leaping in midair

The Eastern Europeans knew the secret power of plyometrics in the early 1970s and used it to enhance their Olympic athletes' abilities. A combination of a stretch that leads to a contraction leads to the increased power and strength seen in many who use plyometrics as part of their exercise routines. Like any exercise, the intense strain placed on your joints requires attention to ensure you do not injure your muscles or the joints of your lower legs.

Effects on Muscle

Plyometrics utilize the stretch reflexes of your muscles, allowing the muscles to build, store and use energy more efficiently. The advantage of this training style becomes evident by increases in your vertical jump height, running endurance and speed, but it does have the potential to cause joint and muscle damage. Another disadvantage is injury from falls. Many plyometric exercises call for powerful jumps performed at a moderate pace. A misstep can cause you to stumble and fall, potentially leading to bone fractures or a head injury.

Increased Speed and Power

The power stored in the muscles after extended plyo training greatly increases the speed and power of your legs, abdominal region, glutes and other muscle groups. This gives you a distinct advantage over the competition when playing sports or participating in track and field events. Like all exercises, the results you achieve are directly related to the amount of time and effort you put into each workout.

Impact on Joints

Leg joints and feet receive the brunt of the punishment from a plyometric workout. The constant jumping and flexing can take its toll on the knees and ankles. Adding additional support to your knees and ankles and wearing supportive footwear provides some protection but their protection is limited. Consulting a doctor before starting a plyo routine and getting help from a personal trainer are the best ways to ensure you are exercising within your limits and reducing the impact on your joints.

Common Injuries

Along with impact injuries to your leg joints, other types of injuries can occur during a plyometric workout. Due to the quick movements associated with plyometrics, failing to warm-up pre-workout can lead to muscle strain. Twisted ankles and foot injuries occur when you wear incorrect footwear or if you work out on an uneven surface. Since the large muscle groups of your legs work hard during the exercise, your heart rate will increase and could cause you to exceed your maximum heart rate, which is dangerous if you have a heart condition.