Original Article The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says trampolines are safe for recreational use but cautions against their use in competitive sports because of the potential for serious injury. Competitive athletes can dive into a trampoline’s foam pit, which absorbs some of the impacts that would otherwise be transmitted to bodies jumping on top. However, doing consecutive flips or twists can damage knee cartilage and ligaments, just like playing any sport with lots of running and throwing.
On average, more than 200 trampoline-related injuries are treated in US emergency departments every day, according to data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). That’s about one every three hours, and most of these injuries fall into the category of fractures and sprains, according to Dr. Gokul Srivatsa of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Why do my knees hurt after trampolining?
trampoline-related injuries most commonly involve the ankle, followed by the knee and shoulder.
Sports medicine physician Dr. Ray McClanahan of Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists in Seattle says he has seen at least a couple of patients per week this summer with trampoline-related injuries to their ankles and feet, particularly fractures.
Most of those sprains and breaks occur on the mat itself — people land on it awkwardly or sprain an ankle performing stunts — but about one-fourth happen on the springs beneath or near where someone lands, according to CPSC data.
Typical trampolining injuries don’t cause lasting damage unless they’ve been really bad; for example, if you jump off a high surface and land on your feet instead of bending your knees to absorb the impact. Dealing with a trampoline-related injury can feel especially frustrating if you’ve been told it’s safe to bounce, only to have a doctor tell you otherwise.
In adults, injuries tend to be similar to those in children — sprains and fractures — but they’re less common.
“Sports that involve jumping and landing put stress on the knee,” McClanahan says. “When people do these sports, there’s always an increased risk for knee problems.”
For example, A study published earlier this year in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research found that elite female artistic gymnasts are at high risk for ACL tears because their sport involves repetitive jumping, turning, and pivoting.
What should I do if my knees hurt after trampolining?
If you notice any swelling or bruising, that means you’ve probably torn some tissue, which will take time to heal (it usually takes about six weeks).
You should rest your knee until the pain subsides; ice can help reduce swelling. Try icing for 15 minutes every three to four hours during the first day of injury.
Knee sprains are common in sports. A quick way to test whether something is wrong with your knee is to lie on your back with one leg flat on the floor so it’s directly above your other leg bent at a 90-degree angle at the knee. While lying down, try moving your lower leg (the one on the floor) up and down. If your knee is injured, you’ll be able to feel or see your muscles contracting.
If it’s not too painful to bear weight on your knee, applying compression—a bandage wrapped around the joint—and elevation can help keep inflammation down.
How do I prevent trampoline injuries?
The CPSC does not recommend that people of any age jump at trampoline parks or on home trampolines, but if they do, adults should supervise kids closely; children under 6 years old should never use them without adult supervision. And all users should always wear protective gear such as a helmet, wrist guards, and knee pads — especially when first starting out.
What in the trampoline mat can hurt your knees?
While trampolines aren’t intended for adults, there are signs to look out for that will let you know it’s not safe:
People can also get injured when landing on the springs, which is why many home trampolines come with padding to cover them. According to one study, 86 percent of injuries occurred when users landed on a metal frame or spring during “out-of-area” jumps (meaning they jumped onto an area where people weren’t supposed to land). Most of those injuries were fractures.
The CPSC is recommending the padding but has no plans right now to require it.
Can I jump on a trampoline if I have bad knees?
People who have arthritis or joint problems in their knees, ankles, or hips may find it especially painful to land from a high surface, which is the best way for beginners to jump.
If you have really bad cartilage in your knee — for example, if you’ve had surgery on it before — trampoline jumping can cause cartilage damage that could leave you with short-term pain and long-term difficulties walking. The CPSC recommends that people with this condition consult a doctor before using one at all.
For older adults, doctors say the same thing: Don’t even try it. If they’re going to do something involving jumping when they get older, McClanahan suggests water aerobics instead of trampolines.
What trampoline surface can hurt my knees?
If you’re jumping on grass, make sure the blades are at least two inches (five centimeters) high to cushion falls. For concrete or asphalt surfaces, which are harder, McClanahan suggests putting something like plywood underneath the trampoline if it’s used outdoors. And for indoors, rubber isn’t ideal because it’ll be hard and unforgiving. Even with padding, someone could still take a nasty tumble (though that could happen anywhere). “The more forgiving the landing surface is,” she says, “the better.”
Is it also dangerous with a mini trampoline?
Yes, while you may find a mini trampoline easier to use than an outdoor one or a full-size trampoline, it’s still possible to hurt yourself. The smaller the trampoline, the more likely kids will get hurt — and their injuries can be more serious than yours: One study found that 29 percent of children on mini-tramps had sustained some type of injury.
A big part of staying safe when jumping is where you do it: You definitely shouldn’t do flips on a small trampoline, for example. If you’re using a mini-trampoline at home, make sure your yard is free from obstacles like rocks and puddles — and make sure no people are around before jumping (
Remember: If you do jump on concrete or another hard surface, wear knee pads! Go under your trampoline and see what kind of surface they have. If it’s not wood or grass, then you have a high chance that it is asphalt/concrete and you should put knee pads under your trampoline to protect yourself as best as possible!
Bottom Line: Playing sports on trampolines, or perhaps just jumping on a trampoline, can be fun but is not recommended for competitive athletes who may be more likely to get injured because of repeated movements or flips. Recreational adult users should watch out for uneven surfaces and might want to avoid trying tricks like flips and somersaults if they haven’t perfected them yet.