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Learn how trampolines can provide hours of fun and fitness.

A quarter of a million people seek medical treatment for trampoline-related injuries every year. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A quarter of a million people seek medical treatment for trampoline-related injuries every year.

Trampolines provide an enjoyable way to improve fitness and relieve stress. Trampoline users benefit from a balanced and stimulating workout that builds aerobic capacity, strengthens muscles and improves balance and coordination. Of course, trampolining is also enormously fun, boosting motivation to continue exercising and to achieve long-term fitness goals.

Trampoline Designs

Trampolines are manufactured in a wide variety of styles that range from small, indoor mini-tramps to enormous backyard bounce-houses. The most popular shape for recreational jumping is the round trampoline, common in backyards. The circular shape keeps jumpers centered over the bed of the trampoline, helping them avoid injuries caused by landing on the padded metal frame or springs that support the trampoline. Many round trampoline models also feature a mesh enclosure supported by padded poles that are designed to lower the risk of dismount-related injuries.

Rectangular, octagonal and square trampolines allow jumpers to move closer to the springs without being pulled back toward the center of the bed. This type of trampoline is considered less safe for inexperienced jumpers, but it gives skilled jumpers more power and control over their movements, making them ideal training apparatuses for aerial sports like gymnastics and diving. Rectangular trampolines are the most powerful and are the only models used during official trampoline competitions. Square trampolines, on the other hand, are smaller and tend to be used for jump training in gymnastics and tumbling.

Trampoline-Related Injuries

In contrast to the physical and emotional benefits of trampolining, the sport carries a serious risk of injury and even death. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, nearly 250,000 people seek medical treatment for trampoline related injuries every year, creating an estimated $4 billion in annual legal, liability, insurance and medical costs. And while scrapes, cuts and bruises caused by the trampoline's metal springs and frame are most common, spinal cord and neck injuries resulting in partial or complete paralysis are also possible, though less likely. Considering that the majority of these patients are children, trampolines have garnered an understandable reputation for being extremely dangerous, especially when improperly used as backyard toys.

Staying Safe on Trampolines

Although there is no way to make trampolining completely safe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has provided a number of tips on how to avoid severe injury.

  • First and foremost, children should only jump only when adult supervision is available, regardless of whether they're using the trampoline for sport-specific training or simply for recreation.
  • If a jumper is going to perform flips, twists or other technical maneuvers, a trained spotter should stand nearby to support the athlete during the jump and cushion the impact of falls.
  • Also, only one participant at a time should be allowed to use the trampoline - midair collisions between jumpers can cause a variety of serious injuries, including concussions, fractures and sprains.
  • When dismounting the trampoline, participants should lower themselves carefully over the frame and onto the ground, instead of jumping straight from the bed.

Trampoline Classes and Training

The best way for trampoline users to improve their skills and reduce their chances of injury is by attending a trampolining class at a professional gymnastics or tumbling instruction center. This is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to educate new participants about the risks of jumping and provides them with a safe environment for learning proper trampolining technique. If the right facilities are available, parents who own - or are considering the purchase of - a trampoline should consider this an important step for safety.

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