What comes into play during a jump back?

“Arms up, fold forward, half way lift and jump back.” These are the first few steps in a sun salutation and a vinyasa transition between standing poses. What roles exactly does the jump backs perform in our practice? In my opinion, I think the jump backs are part of training the arms to gain enough strength and prep them for arm balancing poses. All these muscles engaged in a way that creates a strong and stable foundation that can support your entire body weight above it. A jump back is almost a half handstand where all our body weight is on our hands (replacing the function of the feet), arms (legs) and lastly the shoulders (pelvis).
So what exactly are the muscles we are using here? They are the muscles in the shoulder – serratus anterior, rotator cuff muscles, trapezius and rhomboid and those in the arms – triceps, biceps and deltoids. Other than those, we also activate our abs, obliques and erector spinae.
How do they all work together so that we can execute a good jump back? Let’s look at how the muscles work when we execute the jump back. In a jump back, we are protracting and upward rotating our scapulae, extending our elbows, contracting our abs and lengthening our erector spinae to lift up our body. To protract and upward rotate our scapulae, the serratus anterior together with the trapezius muscles will contract while the rhomboid will extend to hold and stabilise the scapulae. At the same time, the triceps will contract to extend the elbow while the biceps will extend to hold the arms in place. Ta-da… with the muscles and a little practise and technique (leaning slightly over our shoulder), we will be able to execute a good jump back.
With all these muscles working hard to let us execute our jump back, we have to work on strengthening them so that we will be able to do a good jump back. Some of the exercises that we can do are the dolphin push ups, plank and boat pose.
Till then, have fun jumping!
Adeline Soon
200hrs YTT Weekday Sept 2015