I don’t know about you but every time I see one of my kids jumping on a trampoline I get a little nervous. Maybe because I am an Osteopath and I see the repercussions, maybe I am an overprotective parent or just maybe I vividly remember my knee ramming into my sister’s nose that time when we were kids. A common question my patients ask me is “what are your thoughts on trampolines?” While there is no doubt that injuries can occur when using trampolines, there are some basic principles to observe that may assist in minimising the risk.
One at a time
More jumpers means greater risk of injury, usually resulting from a collision. With multiple simultaneous users the lighter person is almost always the one sustaining the injury. Because smaller kids will get flung about when bouncing with older children, it is not wise to have more than one on at a time, especially if there is a big age difference! With varied age groups it’s a good idea to talk to older children about nurturing and looking after the younger ones by jumping less vigorously.
By having only one child jumping at a time they are able to anticipate the rebound through the trampoline working in synergy with the resistance to give maximum bounce and fun. Anyone who has been on a trampoline and copped the rebound effect when landing as someone is springing will testify to the whiplash effects that can go through your entire body. While the neck is the region most commonly affected, whiplash can occur anywhere in the body when the forces are so quick and strong that they jar and strain the joint capsules. Effectively these joints are overstretched causing injury, inflammation and spasm of surrounding soft tissues. More importantly they can sew a seed for later chronic issues and degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.
Try to avoid kids from attempting somersaults and flips on the trampoline. The commercial trampoline centres around Melbourne are very strict on the code of ethics and behaviour within their centres. A big part of this can focus on the avoidance of somersaults and flips. If they get one flip wrong they can land on their head, neck or shoulders which cause a significant whiplash effect. They may be upset and shed a few tears but being kids recover quite quickly. We as Osteopaths are not so worried about the short-term implications but rather the long-term effects on the integrity of their joints and ligaments for the future. Most adults who present with chronic pain and tension can quite easily remember back to an initial traumatic event when prompted.
An adult should always be present and actively supervising children when they are bouncing on the trampoline. While this can be hard to do when we are socialising and enjoying a Sunday BBQ please keep an eye out, especially to protect the littlies. Another idea is to take away access via step ladder for children under 6 when adults are not present to supervise.
I assume most of us now use trampolines which have surrounding net enclosures and with kids hopping in and out quickly it is important to ensure that zips are always done up. Do not allow a trampoline to be used without padding that completely covers the frame, hooks and springs – although this is usually not as much of an issue with the modern design of trampolines now. Also be sure to regularly inspect all parts. Things move, break and wear out over time especially if exposed to the elements. Brief inspections every few months could again help prevent an injury that need not occur.
Speak to your kids
Be sure to talk to your children and educate them about trampoline safety. Discuss the importance of these guidelines and tell them about the risks and the accidents that can occur if not using the trampoline properly and in the safest manner possible.
I know we can’t wrap our kids in cotton wool and we don’t want to stop kids from being kids, we simply want to minimise the risks associated with the improper usage of a trampoline. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of your team at The Osteopaths.