The thrill of defying gravity in your own backyard may come at too high a cost. Trampolines will send you skyward in exhilarating flights of physical fitness, but the airborne exercise ends too often in a crash landing. When the choice is between springy and safety, research the dangers of trampolines to evaluate your risk.
Benefits of Bouncing
The kids are whining about a trampoline for the backyard. You'd like a rebounder for your bedroom. There are healthy reasons to consider trampolining. Cardio exercise seems like more fun on a bouncy surface, and those knees you blew out running will love the low-impact aerobics. You do raise your heart rate as you go for height in your jumps. Vigorous bouncing consumes calories and releases endorphins to boost your mood. The explosive moves and repeat cycles of weightlessness and weight bearing help build both bone density and muscle reaction speed, just like a plyometrics session. A University of New Mexico study comparing exercise on a mini-trampoline to running concluded that bouncing improved cardiovascular fitness, helped with weight management, avoided the dangers of high-impact exercise, increased calorie burn and kinesthetic awareness, lowered the risk for overuse injuries and could be adapted to a variety of fitness levels.
Emergency rooms track more trampoline injuries as the popularity of jumping grows. The University of Michigan reports that medical associations recommend banning trampolines in backyards, gym classes and playgrounds. MayoClinic.com says the risk applies to both children and adults. Damage ranges from strains, sprains and fractures to more serious head and neck injuries, and most injuries happen at home, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. More than half of trampoline accidents occur on the mat and two-thirds happen when two or more people are on the mat together.
To reduce the risk of a trampoline accident, follow safety guidelines agreed upon by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and other concerned medical organizations. No one younger than the age of 6 should be permitted on the trampoline. Always supervise children and limit jumping to one person at a time. Prohibit hotdogging -- no high-risk somersaults or other tricks. Place the trampoline surface at ground level -- this could mean digging a pit to sink it in a backyard. Springs, frame and the surrounding area should have shock-absorbing, protective padding. Leave a safe distance near any structures, trees or fences and keep trampolines away from pools and play areas. In your home, store the rebounder where small children have no access to it. And be certain that trampoline programs for sports such as gymnastics and diving use experienced trainers and spotters, as well as protective equipment such as harnesses and helmets for advanced moves.
Mini- to Maximum Hazard
Your mini-trampoline, or rebounder, comes with nearly the risk factor of a full-size trampoline, according to a study conducted by the Columbus Children's Research Institute. An analysis of injury data showed similar patterns with one exception. All of those injured on mini-trampolines were treated and released from emergency rooms, while 5 percent of those hurt on full-size trampolines had severe enough injuries to be admitted to the hospital. If daily fitness bouncing doesn't do it for you, check your health insurance and then check out the latest trampoline sport-on-steroids. Wall trampoline is full-out acrobatics that requires the conditioning of a gymnast, nerves of steel and a strong sense of balance. Bouncers drop from a high platform to a trampoline set up next to a wall. They aim for height on jumps and push-offs from the wall into difficult trick maneuvers choreographed into sequences. Missing the trampoline is a real danger that probably cancels out the advantages of low-impact aerobic exercise.