Olympic events highlight importance of landing a jump properly to prevent injury

For jumping athletes, common injuries can come from not landing properly

If you watched the men’s gymnastics events at the Tokyo Olympics, you likely noticed Artur Dalaloyan, a 25-year-old Russian competitor who often landed his flips, jumps and dismounts without his left foot touching the mat.

That’s because Dalaloyan tore his Achilles’ tendon three months ago. He was not expected to compete in Tokyo, but he worked to regain his strength and helped the Russian Olympic Committee win the gold in the team finals.

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Major events like the Olympics can inspire people of all ages to try out a new sport or activity. Dr. Kelechi Okoroha, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon, wants people to get involved in new activities while recognizing some of the common sports injuries that can occur.

“Whenever you’re starting a new sport, you always want to work your way into it,” Okoroha said.

Besides getting a good warmup and stretching, one of the most important things athletes can do to avoid injury when starting a new sport is to master the movements.

“It’s important to emphasize proper mechanics when doing these sporting activities,” he said.

For jumping athletes, such as football or basketball players, common injuries can come from not landing properly.

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“A lot of times when athletes land, they have either weakness in their hips or their knees, and they land in a valgus, or knock-kneed position,” he explains.

Landing in this way can lead to an increased risk of ACL and meniscus injuries.

“To prevent that, you want to pair with a physical therapist to do jump training to make sure you’re landing straight and not in valgus,” Okoroha said.

Once you have the proper mechanics down, it’s important to strengthen those muscle movements through practice.

Okoroha also noted that fatigue can increase valgus knee landing. Endurance training can decrease fatigue, and therefore valgus landing.

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