Is Jump Rope Bad for Your Knees?

Apr 09, 2024Kaylee Woodard

Watch a jump roper jump, and you’ll quickly hone in on those knees. 

If you’re looking at jump rope as a new form of exercise or have been jumping but have sore knees, it’s a fair question to ask whether it’s bad for your knees.

Great news: jump rope is not bad for your knees! If you’re jumping and having pain, several factors could be responsible.

Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Jump Rope?

Improper Form

Improper form means poor or bad technique – this is detrimental to your knee joints and can cause soreness and pain when you jump rope.

Jumping too high, landing too heavily, slamming your feet into the floor, and bending your knees excessively between jumps are all symptoms of improper form. Your body should be relaxed and soft as you jump so that you can absorb the impact of each landing.

Good technique takes time to perfect, requiring coordination and confidence. It’s always worth working on your jump rope skills, but don’t try to progress too quickly. Perfect the basics before moving on to more challenging exercises, which will make jump rope more enjoyable and protect you from injury.

Hard Surfaces

If done properly, jump rope is a low-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises can actually support joint health by increasing mobility and strength and activating the lymphatic system.

However, you can stress the knee joints unduly and cause pain if you don’t jump on a suitable surface. Hard ground like concrete or baked, dry earth increases the impact on your knees, leading to pain and soreness. 

If you can, jump rope on the sprung floor of a baseball court, but if you’re just at home, then use a dedicated jump rope mat on a flat and stable surface.

Inappropriate Footwear

The right shoes are essential for jump rope. Not only do they minimize the impact of repeated jumping, but they also help support the ankle, which in turn supports the knee.

Generally, the best shoe will be some type of trainer. Look for good arch and ankle support, and avoid elevated heels destabilizing you when you land. Great cushioning helps disperse the impact, protecting your knees.

Not Warming Up Properly

Warming up is essential in any exercise or physical activity. The body needs to circulate blood to supply vital organs and protect joints and soft tissue from injury.

Plenty of warm-up exercises designed for jump ropers ensure your joints are soft, supple, and ready to jump rope.

Workout Frequency

Like any form of exercise, it’s possible to do too much too soon and overdo the amount or difficulty of the training.

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced jump roper, always make your exercise progressive. Build the intensity and the difficulty gradually to allow time for your muscles and joints to recover between sessions.

As your knees become conditioned, you can jump rope longer and take on more complex challenges.

Jumpers can also help improve the strength of muscles surrounding their knee joints away from the rope with traditional leg exercises like deadlifts, hip bridges, or squats. 

Your knee joints are comprised of bone, tendon, and ligaments with supporting muscles. Dedicated exercises help prepare your knees for ‘bounding’ or repeated jumping, which jump rope demands.

Image Caption: Kaylee Woodard stretching before jumping rope

Pre-existing Conditions

If you’re warming up properly and have the right shoes and mat, plus good technique, you shouldn’t experience any persistent pain or soreness in your knees. If you do, you may have a pre-existing condition.

If you experience pain and soreness in your knees that are more severe than just low-grade muscle aches, get this checked out by a healthcare professional.

If you have arthritis in your knees, jump rope may not suit you. Getting medical advice before exercising is essential to choosing the best sport for your age and health status.

The Biomechanics of Jumping Rope

Jump Rope has three distinct phases.

Load Phase

The load phase requires you to balance on the balls of your feet with the knees slightly bent. This upright version of the universal athletic position means you’re ready to jump. This position is a helpful first position before jumping as it primes your muscles to exert force and generate power.

Flight Phase

Flight means lift-off, but remember, you don’t want to jump too high.

The flight phase is in two parts: contracted muscle force to push you off the floor and the airborne stage when your feet are off the ground. The push to create flight comes from the ankles, calves, knees, and hips.

When in flight, you want your feet to be no more than an inch or two from the surface. This control is harder to coordinate than jumping higher and requires good proprioception. The flight phase boosts balance, rhythm, and timing through repeated jumping movements.

Kinesthesia, a type of proprioception, is the body’s ability to sense and coordinate actions and movements.

Landing Phase

Landing softly on the balls of the feet helps protect the body from injury and also influences the quality of the next upward jump. Landing should be soft and quiet, not loud and heavy. Listening to your landings is a good way to tell how well you’re absorbing the impact of your jump.

Proper technique prevents impact injury, and this phase helps to increase balance when jumping.

How Do I Protect My Knees When Jumping Rope?

Warm Up Properly

Stretching before jumping increases blood flow to muscles and joints, protects against injury, and increases your range of motion, allowing your body to perform at a higher level.

Keep a Slight Bend in your Knees

Landing with a slight bend in the knees helps absorb the impact of returning to the ground and puts less stress on the joints.

Land on the Balls of the Feet

Landing on the balls of your feet rather than with a dropped heel or flat foot controls the impact of your body weight.

Land Softly

Landing softly means your whole body controls the descent, with all your joints acting together as shock absorbers, diffusing the impact and reducing the risk of injury.

Pick the Right Surface

Use a sprung or cushioned surface to practice on—a jump mat is perfect—and always ensure it’s completely flat. Uneven ground can cause injuries such as ankle sprains and contribute to chronic pain due to the uneven distribution of force when you land.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jump Rope Good for Your Knees?

Jump rope has numerous health benefits. When executed properly, jump rope strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the knees and other lower body joints. Therefore, as part of a well-rounded fitness regimen, jump rope can actually support joint health. 

Final Thoughts

Jump rope is an excellent full-body workout that improves cardio health and develops muscle tone. 

Because of the focus on your lower body, jump rope can help you strengthen your knee joints, supporting overall health and sports performance. The right equipment is essential for jump rope success and protection against injuries. We stock quality jump ropes, mats, and all the other gear you’ll need, whether you’re an experienced jumper or a first-timer.

About the Author

Kaylee Woodard is a jump rope educator and performer with a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and a Ph.D. in Motor Behavior and Sport Psychology. A former competitive jumper, she has won multiple national and international jump rope titles. She now travels the world teaching jump rope with her husband, Nick, through Learnin' the Ropes.


‘What Is Proprioception, and Why Is It so Important?’, by Healthline, available at:


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