Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pogo Hops

Within my own personal training I experiment often, playing around with different techniques and movements. On more than one occasion I began a session feeling less than optimal (tightness in the back or hip, a little knee discomfort here or there) and on more than one occasion, I've had amazing improvements in my body's feel from simple pogo hops; hops straight up and down, hops side-to-side, front-to-back, diagonal patterns, etc. I've gain improved range-of-motion in a deep overhead squat, improvement in toe-touch flexibility and just a better feel and energy flowing throughout my body. At times it has felt like complete "fascial unwinding"... whatever that is and whatever it feels like???

This has even extended beyond my personal anecdotal evidence of my self to a few athletes I've worked with.

So what is it with the pogo hops?

The key it seems is the ability stay relaxed like a boxer (think shadow boxing) and "springy" like one of those $.25 super balls, staying on the balls of the feet.

I don't expect it to have magical effects for everyone, maybe no one else (maybe my mind is working autosuggestion on me). Pogo hops might be useful warm-up drill or low-level plyometric. They might work well to teach lower leg stiffness for those that need it. They may "wake-up/activate" certain neuromuscular components. Heck, they might improve digestion. I don't know. Test them. Context and creative application is the important thing.

I am not recommending pogo hops as the next "big thing" or that we all need to go to Africa and learn secrets from the Maasai people; although we might learn a great deal (and more than just big "ups"...). But stepping back even further, I want to make a case against money wasted on expensive "exercise" equipment. In this case, equipment like vibration platforms. What is really going to be gained from a several thousand dollar piece of equipment? To me: it seems such a waste. That money could go towards coaching education or even towards a charity. (Hey?! How about a charity that gets people off their asses?!)

In the case of the pogo hops, I am theorizing (please understand that) that if done right, the athlete learns quick, powerful 'bounce' off the ground which necessitates a powerful synergistic muscular contraction up and down the entire body, and then followed by quick and complete relaxation once airborne, and then the subsequent quick, powerful contraction again upon impact. Again, done right (this is absolutely key) it can have a 'vibration' effect on the body because of the fast, rhythmic contract/relax pulsing. Plus the athlete has the opportunity to actually learn something about athleticism and rhythm (something that is quite absent I've noticed these days), and a little bit of plyometric effects for the lower leg. What does the vibration platform teach?

So again, let me be clear: I am not looking for big things from pogo hops. I don't expect huge verticals, massive cleans and snatches, blazing speed, cuts on dimes or any dominating performances... you need the real and complete training for that.

I am also not looking to start any pogo hopping craze. Like a 'rebounder' hype, except minus the rebounder because that's just more money out of the budget.

All I am really saying is, don't believe the hype. Instead get creative with bodies not machines. Don't waste your money on pricey gimmicks. Sure they may have an effect, but lets use it for the geriatric population or astronauts, not young healthy people. And if you argue you need a specific amplitude and a frequency of 30 Hz, I've got another option I found out while riding my bike this summer; ride over the speed bumps on the side of the highway. Want to increase the frequency? Ride faster.

Just be sure that there isn't much traffic. Sure a bike costs money but the cool thing is that your bike has multiple purposes.

Weird things happen when you move your body (sarcasm).

AS

4 comments:

jleeger said...

beauty!

theorytopractice said...

Nice post, Aaron -- and spot-on. I, too, precede my workouts with pogo hops, as well as toss them in throughout the workout itself. As well, I'll throw in some ballistic push-ups and straight-bar muscle-ups for the same, cns-revving and force-production/relaxation effect.

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

Thanks fellas!

Yeah, isn't it amazing what one can do without all the equipment that is touted now days.

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