Regarding Box Jumps

I hate box jumps.

Most people I know who are of sound mind actually hate box jumps.   See, box jumps involve doing EXACTLY what it sounds like – jumping onto a box. Typically anywhere from a 16 inch tall box up to a 24 inch box for mere mortals, although a guy I know named Corey has the box jump height record at his CrossFit establishment.  He did something like a 53 inch box jump, which is roughly the height of an eleven year old human child. If you read my post from last weekend called Drinking the Kool Aid then you know that box jumps are one of the reasons why I didn’t start doing CrossFit sooner.

CrossFit people love box jumps.  Or, if they don’t love them, you sure can’t tell because they do a lot of them.  The P90X/Insanity crowd likes the idea of them, too.  The main thing keeping the P90X crowd from doing box jumps is the fact that most of them don’t have a 20 inch wooden box laying around their house, so they do every other kind of plyometric nonsense that Tony Horton can think of in their living rooms.

But I definitely hate box jumps. For several reasons.

1) They are freakin’ hard.  Think about it – to accomplish this move, I have to propel my entire body weight up in the air and forward onto the top of a trapezoid shaped wooden box, and then jump back down. (You can step down too, but jumping down is the goal if you are training box jumps.) That’s a lot of work on the body, especially when you weigh a good 50-60 pounds more than you ought to.

2) They hurt my joints.  All the force associated with performing the jump just kills my knees and ankles, especially on my right side which ain’t right to start with.  I don’t mind being sore, but I am not really down with actual *pain*.

3) The actual box scares the hell out of me.  I am absolutely terrified of hurting myself during an imaginary incident that I call “Box Jump Gone Bad” in my mind. I have a huge mental block about the box, which actually makes me really mad because I’d like to think a wooden structure that is shorter than knee-height wouldn’t be able to conquer me, and yet it does.  To wit: This year, I got to the point where I could regularly do my box jumps onto a 12 inch stack of gymnastics mats.  It didn’t hurt my knees so bad, and was higher than what I used to jump on at my other gym so I felt I was definitely on the right track.  Sadly, the last time I did the benchmark CrossFit workout known as Fight Gone Bad, I actually screwed up my score because I wanted to try to jump onto the 12 inch wooden box like the big kids at CrossFit On Track do, and I was completely stymied by the box. I couldn’t jump on it AT ALL. Not one rep. I had to switch back to the mats to finish the workout.

I used to think that the happiest thing that could happen to me would be having someone tell me that I never had to do another box jump again as long as I lived. That is, I felt that way until an actual medical professional suggested I should give them up.  I visited a doctor a few weeks ago about a couple issues I’m having with my feet and ankles and learned that all but one of my major tendons on the outside of my right ankle have partial tears in them from sprains in my youth.  It ain’t pretty, and it also explains several problems I’ve had when trying to do certain exercises and train for certain events.    And because my ankle is ridiculously unstable, the odds of my being able to successfully complete any walking or running events longer than a few miles without pain are pretty low — which explains some of the problems I had when training for a half marathon earlier this year, and further explains why I ended up having to bail out of the race 2/3 of the way through. Doc didn’t say I can’t do a long race, just that it would involve a lot of misery.  But box jumps – I was strongly, strongly discouraged from doing. Basically, I am one really bad fall or sprain away from fully torn soft tissue and surgery.

For about three seconds  after I heard this, I was elated.

Then I got upset.  Really upset.  There’s no real athletic reason why I should be so upset.  After all, I’m not trying to be Julie Foucher or Annie Thorisdottir and compete in elite CrossFit competitions – I’m just trying to do a fun, diverse workout a few times a week for my health and well-being. But all I could think was…am I really at the stage of my life where instead of being able to start doing more as I improve my health and fitness, I have to give things up?  Isn’t that an indicator that a person is getting OLD?  Dammit, I’m too young to be old already!

After I thought about this for a while, I decided that despite all my angst over giving upon on activities, I am going to give up the box jumps.  I can still jump rope (I asked) so I’m going to work on improving that and getting my double unders.  And I will probably still practice the occasional 12-inch stack-o-mats type jumps, if for no other reason than to see if I can do Fight Gone Bad on occasion without resorting to step ups.

I hate box jumps.  But I think maybe I hate not doing box jumps a little more.

4 responses to “Regarding Box Jumps

  1. Or maybe you revisit box jumps in six months or a year when your body has gotten more accustomed to the stresses and strains. Or an ankle brace? Or both? Sounds like you’re making a good decision to step away from them now, though.


  2. When I had knee surgery in 1986, I gave up jumping, downhill skiing, and running. I kept hiking, snowshoeing, bicycling, and walking. I have knees that can handle great adventures. this from a Fool


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