One of the many misconceptions of parkour is that the sport is dangerous and prone to major injuries. However, data collected by Freedom in Motion Parkour gym and other sports recreation programs around the country reviles parkour to be among the safer sports out there. But, how can that be?
In this survey, published by Pubmed, over 250 adult parkour participants who have been training parkour for a significant amount of time, of all injuries, the most common were skin abrasions (70.3 %). When we at Freedom in Motion review our own internal injury reports, completed by a coach any time an injury occurs in class we can see that around 90% of all injuries over the past 5 years were similar superficial injuries like bumped knees and elbows. But why don't we see more major injuries like head & neck trauma like in football or leg bone breaks like in gymnastics tumbling?
In this survey of parkour athletes by physical therapist Ben Musholt, the majority of all reported injuries were healed within 2 weeks and involved light bursting, cuts, and bumps.
What Makes Parkour Safer?
In the compared sports, football & gymnastics, the overabundance of pads and foam-covered surfaces creates a false sense of security resulting in intentional extreme head and joint impact in every practice. Freedom in Motion parkour gym and nearly all other legitimate parkour programs carefully integrate both hard and soft obstacles in the training environment so that our students are better able to understand the risks and rewards associated with their choice of movements. In a trampoline park, a child may choose to launch themselves 20+ feet through the area with a serious risk of landing on a foam-covered metal support brace or colliding with another jumper. Because of the bouncy nature of the environment, a false sense of safety promotes reckless movement choices.
In a mixed-surface parkour gym, students can clearly see metal and wood surfaces in their path. This honest portrayal of their surroundings, which mimic outdoor settings, promotes a greater focus on self-preservation and more time spent on risk-reward calculation. Mixed surfaces promote better decision-making by athletes.
Freedom in Motion's certified parkour coaches receive extensive training in safe teaching practices to help guide students through their dailly lessons. Along the way, students receive extensive instruction in Ukemi, the martial art of falling safely. Considering these factors Parkour has proven to be much safer than many other traditional sports such as gymnastics, football, and trampoline parks resulting in dramatically fewer major injuries than many other sports.
What do beginners learn that keeps them safe?
ROLLS: One of the fundamental lessons all students learn in our beginner classes is how to land and roll to mitigate the risks of unanticipated slips & falls.
PROGRESSIONS: Progressions are incremental components of a movement needed to complete the final move. For example, to learn a handstand, a very difficult position for beginner students, a proper set of progressions will be introduced by the coach. Such as, inversions against a wall or with a coach spotting the student so they can control their body more slowly as they get the feel for being upside down. Other progressions include drills training shoulder and core strength to insure a student's ability to hold themselves up over their head while in a handstand. Every move we teach at Freedom in Motion has a volley of progression based movements or strength requirements before we let our students take on the full movement.
PROPER FORM: Freedom in Motion coaches pay close attention to proper form when students learn new movements. Our coaches understand how proper form can decrease the force load on a student's joints and increase the student's ability to successfully perform each skill more reliably.
UKEMI: Each parkour movement shown in class comes with an "if you fall doing this move, this is what you should do..." ukemi lesson. Students drill the proper falling, landing, and rolling techniques for every movement and course before being expected to perform the movement on their own.
COMMON SENSE: Falling hurts, as such, our coaches will allow a student to bump an elbow if it means teaching them a lesson in common sense and risk management. Coaches know these moments will result in the student gaining a better sense of judgment and better decision-making keeping them far safer in the long run.
Start Learning Parkour
Ready to start learning parkour? Click here to see if you live near one of Freedom in Motion's many parkour gym locations. If you do then click "try a class" and come experience our world-class coaching for yourself! Otherwise, try searching for parkour gyms near you on google.
You may also try learning parkour outdoors! Here is a link to our parkour tutorial videos. they will prove helpful on your parkour journey.