Death by parkour: Who could have seen that coming?
Do you hardcore parkour? If you do, consider these safety tips first
Parkour: the movement craze of the early 2000s is having a moment, though it’s not necessarily a good one. People are into parkour, which is great, and social media gives these athletes a way to share and show their talents. But our world of constant sharing and selfie-ing isn’t always a positive one, especially for people performing dangerous tricks and stunts.
Wait, what is parkour?
Contrary to popular belief, people were parkour-ing long before viral videos. Originally created in France in the 1980s by a guy named Raymond Belle (and his son, David), parkour started off as a creative form of movement. The goal of parkour is simple — move from one place to another in the most creative way possible. However, since the parkour movement has taken off, people have been going to more and more dangerous lengths to hit that creativity mark.
What makes parkour so dangerous?
Parkour isn’t intended to be a dangerous sport; in fact, it can be practiced by people of all athletic abilities and body types. However, modern-day career parkour practitioners often find themselves in a bit of a creative bind: in order to get more views, more likes, and more followers, they have to do something bigger, crazier, and more dangerous than their colleagues. And this can lead to danger (and not in a good way).
In 2018, the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care published a study that reported some distressing results. Between October 2011 and November 2017, nearly 300 people died taking selfies. While experts argue that this number is not entirely made up of social media stars and people like parkour-ers looking to up their follower count, the number is certainly proof of a world whose inhabitants are increasingly and dangerously obsessed with social media and public perception.
Between October 2011 and November 2017, nearly 300 people died taking selfies
That being said, just because you want to practice parkour doesn’t mean you’re obsessed with fame or going to injure yourself seriously while practicing your craft. Having an Instagram account doesn’t mean that you’re going to be mauled by a bear while taking pictures (like selfie-taking Indian man Prabhu Bhatara), and practicing parkour doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be swept up in the world of dangerous one-upping tricks.
How can you practice parkour safely?
Just like any sport or discipline, it’s important to know your limits and start at the beginning. If you’re just starting your parkour practice, don’t jump into anything crazy your first time out (literally). Consider starting off with some of these basic parkour skills instead:
- Jump from the ground onto a step or low bench with both feet, making sure you have control of your body the whole time
- Jump from the ground onto a step or low bench with one foot guiding the other foot, switching feet each time you jump
- Jump over small objects, gradually increasing the size of the object or jumped space
- Hang and swing from a bar (like one on a playground) to practice landing and lifting yourself
- Practice the roll technique after a fall (especially when you get to jumping from heights higher than you)
Practice takes time, but its not wasted time. When you log some solid practice hours before attempting those sick jumps, you’ll be stronger, safer, and smarter when it’s finally time to post your tricks. And remember, parkour is a sport. Consider adding a basic workout to your weekly parkour practice routine to keep your body in tip-top shape.
In addition to taking your training seriously and slowly, make sure you’re practicing your parkour in an appropriate environment. Some of the most frequent parkour accidents and injuries happen because athletes are in uneven or dangerous spaces, so when you’re first starting out, try to find an indoor space to parkour, and, if you can, parkour with friends and/or professionals to watch and guide you.
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