Trampolines come in small and large sizes, for amateurs and professionals alike, and are great for fun and fitness. Using a trampoline can give you an aerobic workout, help with balance and flexibility and tone your muscles, all without any special skills required. But trampolines can also be dangerous, and if overloaded, may lead to serious injuries and even fatalities.
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A trampoline is composed of a metal frame and resilient, flexible fabric -- originally canvas, but now more likely to be a high-tech material engineered for the purpose such as polypropylene. The fabric is stretched tightly to the frame and connected by springs to provide buoyancy. The first modern trampolines were created by George Nissen and Larry Griswold in the 1930s for gymnastics, and named for the Spanish term “el trampolin,” which means diving board. Most models are constructed similarly and are either round or rectangular.
Trampolines are available in child-size “first jumper” models that are lower to the ground, smaller and often have handrails. The weight limit for these models is typically around 75 lb. Mini-trampolines are slightly larger and sometimes called rebounders, trampettes, jogging trampolines or exercise trampolines, and are used primarily for in-home aerobic workouts. Depending on the model, the weight limit for these mini-trampolines can range from 200 to 300 lb. Recreational trampolines are intended for outdoor use primarily by children and can be up to 15 feet in diameter. Cheaper recreational models have less-sturdy springs and may limit the total user weight to 250 lb., whereas high-end trampolines with heavier frames and springs may support up to 450 lb.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit for the trampoline model you’re using and test it for weakness by jumping lightly and looking for signs the mat isn’t lifting you as you jump. You should also note any strings stretched out of shape or areas that may need re-stitching, all of which can further decrease weight maximums. Also remember that if the trampoline is to be used by children, they will get heavier as they grow up, something to consider if you plan on using the trampoline for several years.
A study by researchers at the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School Injury Prevention Center found that trampoline-related injuries more than doubled in the decade leading up to the publication of the study in June 2007 in “Academic Emergency Medicine.” Between 2000 and 2005, 531,378 trampoline-related injuries were logged at emergency rooms in the U.S., an average of 88,563 each year. Of these, 95 percent happened on home trampolines. Although following manufacturer usage recommendations and weight restrictions can help prevent some of these injuries, it is the opinion of the the American Academy of Pediatrics that trampolines never be used at home, school or on outdoor playgrounds.