In the last couple of months, we had no less than two bone fractures within the Street Movement crew.
Funny enough it was the same bone, Scaphoideum, in both cases. This injury is a classic when falling and trying to absorb force through your hands. Lesson learned from that experience, don't smack your hands in the ground, or build stronger bones and still try to avoid smacking your hands in the ground.
When training Parkour we learn a lot of different movements, jumping, rolling, running, swinging, pushing, pulling and so on. Sometimes we also learn how to fall without getting injured.
This is a skill, really. A skill that consists of awareness, reaction ability and the understanding that you need to keep the momentum, distributing the force through out the body.
This is somewhat amazing to look at. And people, who train bail-techniques often, can become extraordinary at falling.
There is another factor in this equation, the body-armour factor. Body-armour is the word we use to refer to dense muscle mass. The muscle-mass works as a cushion, impact absorber and joint stabilizer.
But we as individuals do not put on mass equally. Some people are way more anabolic than others and hence they will gain muscle faster, increasing their cushioning.
But sometimes our bail-technique doesn't meet the requirements of the situation. This might result in injury, especially if your outer cushioning isn't of great magnitude. Injuries is a subject which can be discussed. When is it good, when is it bad? So for now, let's just say that the injuries we want to prevent, is the ones that will prevent you from training.
So you fall, and your perfect technique fails, your body-armour is not enough, you put your hand in the ground to absorb force, and something cracks. Stress hormones are getting secreted, you can't feel the pain, everything is okay, you think. Then the pain slowly increases, the wrist is immobile, you go to the emergency room, and they scan it... And it is not fractured.
How, that was a 2 -3 meter drop? It should have been broken. But you have been training in 8-9 years; you have been taking a lot of impact in your wrists. Everything, from long cat-passes to minor bails. Slowly but surely you have increased the mineral-density in your bones. Small cracks occur because of the high-impact movements, these cracks are getting repaired, your body "learns" and adapt to what situations you put it in to, building stronger structures. Therefore your bones could handle the fall.
How do we increase mineral-density? Well, we make sure that our bones are under pressure, high-impact but not fracture-impact. Slow progression is the key player in all development; this goes for all kind of physical training.
Strong bones are created over time, just like muscle growth and fat-storage. But bones are slow workers, they don't get strong in the same pace as your muscles or ligaments. Because of this natural and unchangeable circumstance, we must treat our skeleton with outmost care.
This consequence of your play and training is something everybody can gain from, young as old. It is a basic feature of being alive; strong structures are what keep your body together.
We must emphasize the importance of being functional throughout our life. When old age comes rolling in, a healthy physique and a strong foundation is something that will make daily life much easier. Besides that, injury preventive dense bones will increase your ability and possibilities to play without getting hurt. That means more time doing what you love, and less time only doing handstands because your tibia is fractured.
When we consider this basic fact of movement in general, we have the opportunity to let it benefit our bodies.
How do we use it in our practice? We try to make slow progress - always. Maybe it sounds boring, or one-sided, but this is how we make our bones stronger.
Patience is indeed a virtue, and we need to embrace that if we want our bodies to adapt to the impact we lay upon it. The problem with this method is that there is no rule of thumb considering bone density and growth. We are, as stated earlier, all different, and some people might need more time working on foundation movement to build healthy bones. Others might have strong bones due to genetics. This means that we need to feel our body in progress and carefully take one step at the time, not being afraid of actually taking one step back, if that is what we need to keep strong.
If this carefully and attentive way of training is implemented in our training, parkour can be very useful for building a solid and strong bone structure. But if we are too eager and push too fast then the movements in parkour are not necessarily making our bones stronger, they might actually make them weaker.
Obviously there is more to a strong and healthy body than slow progression, but it is severely important in bone development, and that is why we emphasize it in this article.
So next time you train, you can try to evaluate how you train and the impact your bones absorb. Are you strong enough...? Have you been training long enough to do those long jumps?
Train wholehearted - one love