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When I see those who play NBA, they jump giant heights with little to no pain (or it seems so), however my feet flare up with pain even from a little fall.

I already have found that one of the best barbell exercise to improve the jump height are the cleans, but what would be a good exercise to reduce fall damage taken to foot?

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    "best barbell exercise to improve the jump height is clean and jerk" – does the jerk add anything here? Oct 5, 2023 at 10:17

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The key element to reducing fall damage when landing on the feet is to distribute the force of falling over a greater period of time. This generally consists of landing on the balls of the feet, distributing the fall across the foot and ankles by rolling towards the heel, and bending the knees to continue the force along the legs, and optionally continuing on down to absorb remaining force either with bent arms or a roll, as seen in parkour landings.

And what is the best way to train this? Well, generally the advice is to start with small jumps, and move on to bigger ones. However, even before that, you can train by simply swinging your arms up, coming to the ball of your foot, and then rolling your feet down with legs bent, maintaining your balance by putting your arms or torso forward. Just that exercise is enough to begin conditioning your foot and ankles to be more damage resistant, as well as teaching you good technique. Once you feel comfortable with that, you start with small jumps, first in place, then from small heights, always using good technique and control to land.

And yes, none of these exercises use barbells, since the movement is primarily a bodyweight one. I think that you could probably use small weights in your hands to simulate a larger jump by increasing your weight as you land and swing your arms, but personally, I feel that you are increasing the strain on your arms for a minimal increase in landing force that isn't even necessarily in the right direction. Probably, a healthier way to make use of the weight is holding the weights while doing ankle raises and squats, to more generally strengthen your legs to improve your ability to absorb the landing. But ultimately, I believe that learning the proper technique, and drilling it until it becomes second nature, is the more valuable way to train to reduce fall damage.

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From my own experience with athletic training, I would gather that the best way to prevent pain when landing on the feet from a jump would be to improve the strength of the small muscles in the foot as well as the shins and calves. The reason being, that these are stabilizing muscles, and when you land on your feet, they will help support your feet on the landing. Exercises to improve on the strength of those muscles would include jump-rope, running, and plyometric exercises involving jumping itself. Weighted exercises would include body-weight calf raises, weighted calf raises holding dumbbells, and (this one is not well known) strength training using single-leg leg presses, particularly done in a semi-plyometric fashion for speed on the ball of the foot. Another one you could do for overall strength and balance is the pistol squat (one-leg body weight squat). Although this last exercise, the pistol squat, does not directly target the stability of the foot, it will improve overall stability and balance in the legs themselves, and it does have some carryover to jumping too. Cheers, and good luck with your training and athletic goals.

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