This question is one that I received from a friend who has had hip surgery. Her doctor told her to avoid high-impact exercises, but she is interested in jumping rope (probably because I’m always talking about it😆). Is skipping rope low impact?
Despite all the benefits that jump rope has to offer, it IS NOT low impact. Low impact is defined as always having at least one foot on the ground at all times. You can’t jump over a rope with one foot on the ground at all times.
Jumping rope IS much lower impact than running and most other aerobic exercises. If you don’t believe it can be pretty close to low impact try these three tips:
- Jump on a soft surface, like wood floors or even carpet. You can add a mat to the surface to make it even softer. You can also go to many parks that have a cushioned play area or a runner’s path that has “give” to it. Always use a mat if you are jumping outside.
- Stay on the balls of your feet. Your heels should never touch the ground while you’re jumping. This is one of the reasons why running is so much higher impact than skipping. Most people land on the back of their feet or heel when they run. This is much more jarring to your joints than landing on the balls of the feet. It can take time to build up your calf strength.
- Improve your form. This one can take a little bit of time, but the longer you jump the better your form will become. You won’t be jumping as high to get over the rope as you get better. Don’t try to do a bunch of fancy tricks if you want to get close to low impact. Focus on perfecting the boxer step, which has the lowest impact. It’s just a slight weight transfer with each jump.
Skipping Rope Is Lower Impact Than Running
Jump rope is the best form of cardio exercise because it builds coordination and balance, prevents bone loss and is flexible enough to do anywhere with less than a $10 investment in equipment.
Lots of people think running is the best exercise. But skipping rope is not only a more time-efficient workout, it’s also a lower impact workout. When you run you land on the back of your foot. The heel strike is the most jarring part for your hips and knees. When you skip rope, you never land on the back half of your foot.
As your form improves you will find that the height you get with each jump is less. Three things you can do to build your form are:
- Drill the basic skills, don’t get fancy. Stick to basic bounce and boxer steps.
- Keep your elbows tucked in as close as possible.
- Shorten your rope. When you are a beginner you will have a rope that is longer and harder to clear. As you get better shorten the rope, which forces you to tighten up your skills.
As terrible as this sounds, one of the best ways to see your form is to film yourself. It really helps you to watch yourself and see what’re doing.
No one can really tell you that running burns this many calories and jumping rope burns that many. It is different for EVERY body. It depends on how fast you are running AND how fast you are jumping. But MOST comparisons show that jumping rope burns more calories than running.