The 7 Most Common Injuries in Parkour

These are the Top 7 injuries that I see most people get in the parkour community and the most common ones that I personally have had. I’m going to list the top 7 and explain why they usually occur.

Knowing these common injuries and what causes them will help you prevent these injuries from happening to you and save you a lot of pain and wasted time.

#1- Foot and Hand Bruises

These are impact force injuries. They occur when your taking too big of an impact, using improper form, or haven’t conditioned properly for your body to take the impact. For example like on big landings, really long or high precisions, diving kongs, dive rolls, and other high impact moves. These are quite annoying since you are constantly using both feet and both hands in parkour so it usually takes forever for these to completely heal.

The good thing is that these bruises are usually minor injuries that are really more painful than debilitating. But if it starts swelling pretty bad or doesn’t start to feel better after a few days, you might have something a little more serious like a hairline fracture. At this point you would want to get it checked out by a doctor to see if you should take more rest.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 learn the proper technique to landing and vaulting.

#2 Make sure the force is evenly distributed throughout the body. Example: For the basic landing keep your legs shoulder width apart, land on the balls of the feet, and make sure your joints are aligned properly.

#3 Start small and gradually build up. This way your hands and feet have time to build up.

#4 You should also look into barefoot training and conditioning. For more on barefoot training click HERE

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#2- Shin Hits

Shin injuries SUCK! The shin is a very sharp bone and sensitive area without much protection, which causes it to be very susceptible to cuts and deep gashes that are pretty painful. These are most common on botched precisions or slipping on rail work. Most of the time people will make the mistake of having one foot slightly ahead of the other on precisions which cause the foot further back to slip right off the rail or ledge and slam the shin full force into the obstacle.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 Be sure your feet are close together and even when doing precisions.

#2 Gradually build up to smaller landings and bigger gaps. This way your body has time to build up the coordination and body awareness.

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#3- Knee Capitations

The dreaded knee capitation. I’ve had a handful of knee capitations. Not too fun. These occur when you slam your knee or if your lucky your upper thigh into an obstacle. These usually happen when you are performing a kong vault, speed vault, and I’ve even gotten one trying to do a fast climb up. Your running full speed and hit the vault but one of your knees happens to be just slightly too low and catches the ledge or rail. These can be pretty painful. I remember one I did during a full out kong vault, the impact was so hard it literally made me sick to my stomach ha.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 Learn the proper form to your vault.

#2 Make sure to keep your legs tucked.

#3 Keep those hips up.

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#4- Knee Sprains

These knee sprains and knee injuries are probably the most devastating and take the longest to heal especially when people suffer a more serious knee ligament or tendon injury such as a torn ACL. These occur from improper landings, from over training, not conditioning properly, or having imbalances in the body. The risk of these injuries increase 10 fold when you start to incorporate flips and twisting movements off of obstacles.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 learn proper landing techniques. So making sure when you land a move your body is absorbing the impact as evenly as possible and keeping your joints aligned.

#2 Making sure to give your body a days rest between really hard training sessions so it can rebuild.

#3 Implement a proper warm up before each training session

#4 Condition the body properly so that you are strengthening your muscles and joints but also do not creating imbalances. Make sure when your working on jumps or moves like the wall run, you train both legs. Do workouts that work your quads and your hamstrings. Training barefoot will help with your body alignment and posture. If you have an alignment problem in your feet, then it can cause pain to your knees.

#5 Implement a good stretching routine following your training. The more flexible you are the the more force your body can handle safely.

#6 Start to improve your balance. This will increase your joint strength and your body awareness.

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#5- Ankle Sprains

These are probably the most common injuries, especially for those just getting into parkour. These occur a lot during precisions, stride precisions, wall runs, or landings where we put too much pressure or strain on a part of the ankle joint. Whenever you “jam”, “twist”, or “roll” your ankle you are spraining the joint. Again, moves with extra twisting and flipping will increase the chances of spraining your ankles. The four main root causes for ankle sprains are  imbalances in the body, poor flexibility, lack of ankle strength, and poor form.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 learn proper landing techniques. So making sure when you land a move your body is absorbing the impact as evenly as possible and keeping your joints aligned.

#2 Making sure to give your body a days rest between really hard training sessions so it can rebuild.

#3 Implement a proper warm up before each training session

#4 Condition the body properly so that you are strengthening your muscles and joint but also not creating imbalances.  Calf raises, squat jumps, and split leg box jumps are great basic lower body exercises that help build up your ankle joints. Again, training barefoot helps with the body alignment and posture.

#5 Implement a good stretching routine following your training. The more flexible you are the the more force your body can handle safely.

#6 Start to improve your balance. This will increase your joint strength and your body awareness.

#7 Keeping the ankle active. Meaning it’s prepared for the landing. If your going into a precision, point the foot so that when you hit the precision you give your ankle joint plenty room to absorb. Honorable mention to the hip or shoulder pain from first learning the parkour roll.

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#6 Shoulder and Hip Bruise from the roll

Almost every experiences this pain when transferring their parkour rolls from grass to harder surfaces such as concrete. You either hit to hard on the shoulder or hit that annoying hip bone that sticks out a little bit on your lower back. These injuries can be pretty painful and turn into chronic injuries If you don’t correct your form or give yourself proper rest.

Click here to watch video showing you how to avoid hitting your hips and shoulder:
http://learnmoreparkour.com/parkour-academy-episode-5-parkour-roll-avoid-hitting-the-hip-and-shoulder/

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 learn proper roll techniques. If your hitting that hip bone make sure you are keeping your legs tucked in tight all the way through the roll. Try coming out of the roll either more along the side or more toward the center of your hip to avoid that bone. This will take some testing to get perfectly right for you. If you are hitting your shoulder, try tucking it in more and using more of your arms for support. You want to roll over the back of the shoulder and on the muscle.

#2 Making sure to give your body rest after you bruise and getting stronger.

#3 Start with really soft surfaces and gradually increase to harder ones. This way your body can have time to build up.

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#7 Rips on the Hands

Rips really come into play when you start getting more involved in bar work especially lache work. Big rips can put your hands out of commission for a couple of days on bar work and burn like crazy. These occur when the skin bunches up form the friction of the bar on the hands. When the skin bunches up too much, there is too much pressure on the skin and it causes the skin to rip. These are much worse when you have big calluses or a accumulation of dead skin on the hand. Calluses are great for keeping the hands protected but not good when doing bar work because this extra skin bunches up much easier and causes the rips to be much deeper and worse. Now rips are kinda painful painful but they heal up fairly quickly and usually only require a simple clean up and wrap job like any other minor scrap or cut.

A few good ways to prevent these injuries are to:

#1 Remove the collection of dead skin on your hand. So you want to shave down those big calluses so they do not start to bunch up and rip. Most people use sand paper or pumice rock to shave them down.

#2 When you feel your calluses bunching up or they start to feel pain when your doing bar work, that’s a good sign they are getting ready to rip.  Stop and move onto some other movement.

 

These are the most common injuries that I personally have experienced and witnesses over the years. If you have some other injuries that you seem to get all the time or see as a common occurrence in the parkour community, be sure to post it below in the comments.

 

And again, I’m not a doctor or an expert in medicine. This is just what I have found through my years of training and teaching. You should always do your own research or consult a physician or expert for any health or medical advice.

Safe Training,
Jonathan Tapp

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  • Pyrus Le-BourneAirz

    Thank you that was helpful

  • http://www.facebook.com/irene.tiger.5 Irene Tiger

    I had a parkour fail once last Black Friday…I gashed my shin on a play structure and I spent HOURS icing it in front of a gas station. Had to wear an enormous bandage until Christmas. Decided I should probably attend a club and get someone more advanced to teach me before I maim or kill myself.

  • Adrian

    I once was at my schools gym and tried a simple cat back eject from a bar onto the edge of a soft mat for safety of course, rolled ankle and the safety was a Fail

  • Adrian

    hey, uh ive been jumping around practicing precision and long jumps and I noticed a dull pain in my left foreleg any ideas?

    • Christian Brady

      it might be the way you land, maybe try stretching your tendons and practicing the landing motion to see if that helps?

  • Tom

    Great post; knowledge should always be the first step in the parkour practice, and the best way to be aware of injuries and mistakes is to learn from the more experienced freerunner!

  • Yasmin

    Is there a way to avoid breaking any fingers? I am a pianist and a guitarist, I cannot break my fingers.

    • Ibrahim Ahmed

      I don’t think you can break your fingers in parkour/free running, unless you do it on purpose.

      • Christian Brady

        if you land wrong or do a vault wrong you could break your fingers.

  • http://www.iizagenious.com Reece

    Hi meh nam iz Reece. I am lyfesavar at deh pul. I git board so I fink to meself wat wood it bee like too do parkor in water.Can sumbody explane hoe deh fisics work? Chears!

  • Abram Garcia

    Yeah i landed on edge of a wooden box carrying 20pounddumbells and my shin never healed cause thier is aball that moves around in my leg and a indenstion where that bone chip goes to if you have a answer please contact at 2107825625

    • 555

      Visit the doctor. just do it. and be careful

  • Adrian

    Hey I tried a reverse underbar and I hit my lower back/sacrum and I want to know how I can reallign it. It doesn’t hurtbut Iit aches if I sit too long and get up instantly

    • Jamie Easthom

      I’d definitely suggest seeing a chiropractor, spinal alignment is their expertise. hope you feel better soon!