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Gymnasts – Prepping for Landings (Part 1)

By Jen Bazan, PT, DPT

With my girls being out of the gymnastics gym for the time being, I am trying to think of ways to challenge their bodies at home so they can be prepared to get back into the gym and start all those take offs and landings. Young athletes do not need heavy weights and big movements to succeed, they need guidance, they need mobility and they need stability. This is how they appropriately load a joint and then can generate power.

Exercise #1: Half Kneel Ankle Dorsiflexion - In a tall half kneeling position, position your foot so it’s a hands breath away from the wall. Lean forward bending at the knee and ankle as far as you can before your heel wants to pop off the ground. Aim for the wall in front of you. Hold this position for 5 seconds of time. Repeat 10 times on each leg. This helps with talocrural (ankle joint) mobility which assists take off, landing, and squatting mechanics.

Exercise #2: Longsitting Ankle Inversion Isometric - Sitting against the wall with your legs out in front of you, place a small ball between your ankles. Make sure your toes are flexed up toward the ceiling. Now squeeze the ball with your feet without letting your knees roll in. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times with your ankles flexed up toward the ceiling and then 10 times with your ankles pointed down. This exercise works on generating tension throughout the legs to help support the foot/ankle joint in preparation for landings and pivot.