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Increasing Vertical Jump Height Winning in Sport

By Dr. Scott Rosenthal

The distance between winning and losing can literally be a fraction of an inch. It can mean the difference in blocking the ball, hitting a kill, achieving a catch, clearing a bar or just barely beating your opponent to the ball. What if there was a way to increase your vertical jumping height? How would this impact your athletic abilities and contribution to the team?

Let’s touch on many of the factors that decrease your ability to jump high. You may be relieved to know that there is more to it than just your discipline in the gym or genetic make-up. If the joints of your spine, pelvis and/or lower extremities (hips, knees, ankles and feet) are misaligned or fixated, this will cause inflexibility, abnormal muscle tightening and loss of strength. Additionally, pelvic bone alignment issues can produce a shortening of one leg length when compared to the other. The end result is a restricted ability to launch to your peak distance. Imagine having a spring attached under each foot. Consider how high you would be able to jump if one spring was slightly shorter.

The problems described are very common in the athletes that I work with in my office. I have made it a routine to check each athlete from head to toe. This even includes the tiny joints of the toes. Any single distortion (large or small) can be disastrous when it comes to one’s physical performance. Although most mechanical problems exist without producing any pain, there are tell-tale signs that intervention is needed:

  • Pain in the back, pelvis, knees, ankles or feet.
  • Muscle tightness (such as in the calves, thighs, buttocks or back).
  • Foot cramps or the feeling that one or both shoes don’t fit quite right (when they used to feel fine).
  • Fatigue during play.
  • A feeling of increased strength in one side of the body when compared to the other.
  • Frequent Charlie horses or pulled muscles.
  • And the obvious, not jumping as high as you used to.

In 2014, a research study was published that examined the impact that chiropractic adjustments had on young female athletes’ vertical jump heights. The participants were found to have dysfunction of their talocrural (ankle) joints. They were divided into two groups. One group received a real adjustment to the ankle correcting the joint function and the other group received a fake (placebo) treatment. Care was administered weekly for three weeks and vertical height measurements were retaken and compared to readings from day one before chiropractic care was started. The results were very positive and, in the group receiving the actual chiropractic adjustments, vertical jump height was increased by 1.07 cm (nearly half an inch). This was about twice as much as the placebo group.

Half an inch may not sound like much, but anybody who has played or watched sports knows that it makes all the difference in the world. It’s the near misses that hurt the most. With chiropractic care, athletes can increase their vertical jump height and turn many losses into wins. Certainly, such improvements are worth jumping for!

Effect of Chiropractic Manipulation on Vertical Jump Height in Young Female Athletes with Talocrural Joint Dysfunction: A Single-Blind Randomized Clinical Pilot Trial. Hedlund, Sofia et al. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , February 2014, Volume 37 , Issue 2 , 116 – 123