Are Trampolines Safe? Expert Opinion

Brittany Graves 

If you are a parent considering purchasing a backyard trampoline for your family to enjoy, you’ve probably asked yourself this question, “Are trampolines safe?” For some, that may be a very difficult question to answer, and of course different people will have different opinions.

First and foremost, trampolines are just like most other things in life. They have pros and cons, risks and benefits, and trampolines definitely have their ups and downs! So how do weigh those pros and cons? How do you make a choice that’s right for your family? All you need are some facts and information on both sides of the spectrum.

Hopefully the information contained in this article will help to guide you through the process of making an informed decision on what’s best for your family when it comes to the purchase and use of a trampoline!

Before we get into the safety of trampolines, lets answer this question - what exactly is a trampoline and how do you use one? If you’re thinking about buying a trampoline, chances are you know what a trampoline is. But just in case you aren’t exactly sure of the mechanics here’s a little definition: A trampoline is a form of play equipment that is made up of a strong piece of fabric attached to a metal frame with a whole bunch of coiled springs. Essentially it is a springboard that can be used for jumping and for doing acrobatic or gymnastic sports.

Trampolines come in many different sizes, from small personal use trampolines that tend to be very low to the ground, to larger, higher trampolines that can fit several people at once. There are also industrial sized trampolines built into the ground or floor like the ones used in gymnastics studios and indoor trampoline parks. Sounds harmless enough, but there can definitely be risks involved when using a trampoline.

So, what are those risks and are they dangerous enough to avoid purchasing a trampoline all together?

What the experts say:

Most health professionals do not recommend the use of standard trampolines for children under six years of age, and say that they are especially dangerous for toddlers in the 2–4-year age range. The American Academy of Pediatrics goes a step further saying trampolines are never safe for use at home. They not only say that especially young children should not use trampolines, but they say that no family should have a trampoline at home. But why? Their reasoning is, that trampolines should only be used in a controlled environment, with constant supervision to enforce safety guidelines. They claim that this type of supervision and safety is impossible to achieve in a home setting.

However, despite this recommendation, backyard trampolines are more popular than ever. In the U.S. alone over 500,000 trampolines are sold every single year. In the year 2020 alone the trampoline market exceeded $667.2 Million. So, if trampolines are so dangerous that some doctors don’t recommend using them at all, then why do so many families own backyard trampolines? What exactly are the risks with using a trampoline?

Trampoline Risks:

Using a trampoline is considered an outdoor recreation activity. As with most recreational activities, especially the ones physical in nature, there are always going to be some risks involved and occasionally injuries do occur. So, what exactly are the risks and injuries that can be associated with using trampolines?

As with most outdoor/physical activities the most common injuries associated with the use of trampolines include:

  • Minor bruises,
  • Scrapes and
  • Cuts.

These usually tend to happen for several common reasons:

  • When multiple people are jumping on a trampoline at once and collide with each other,
  • Doing “tricks” like flips and other acrobatics,
  • Having certain objects in your hand or on the trampoline while jumping would also increase your risk of injury,
  • And of course, you might even bounce off the side of the trampoline and fall to the ground below.

While the injuries listed above are the most common injuries, some of the more severe injuries can include:

  • Fractured/broken bones,
  • Head/spine injuries, and in very rare,
  • Extreme cases, even death.

The more extreme injuries sound pretty scary, but they are much less common than the typical bruises, cuts and scrapes and in the case of death, that is extremely rare.

But if you’re really going to make an informed decision about whether or not trampolines are safe, you really have to compare trampoline related injuries to all of the other activities that you may already be participating in with your family as well.

Injuries Related to Other Recreational Activities

According to a national injury facts website, emergency rooms in the U.S. see, an average of about 100,000 trampoline related injuries every year. The vast majority of these injuries, approximately 70%, are sustained by children between the ages of 5-14 years old. Only about 25% of all of these injuries happen to toddlers under 4 years old. And the number is even lower for teenagers and adults. Now, let’s compare that to some other popular activities that many families participate in without a second thought.

In the year 2021 alone, there were are over 240,000 skateboard and scooter injuries, and over 370,000 bicycle injuries seen across U.S. Emergency rooms. You think that’s bad; youth sports contribute to a whopping 750,000 injuries, every single year, and those are just the ones seen in Emergency rooms. According to John Hopkins Medicine more that 3.5 million children age 14 or younger are injured every year playing organized sports. In fact, of the top 10 recreational injuries seen in hospitals, trampolines were actually low on the list, at number nine. Let’s look at those numbers a little closer:

Top Ten Recreational Injuries for 2021:

  • Exercise/Exercise Equipment: 409,224
  • Bicycles/Bicycle Accessories: 375,797
  • Basketball: 259,779
  • Skateboards/Scooters: 245,177
  • Football: 222,086
  • Playground/Playground Equipment: 178,043
  • Swimming/Pools/Swimming Equipment: 155,787
  • Soccer: 144,895
  • Trampolines: 117,492
  • Baseball/Softball: 116,020

Chances are, your family does at least one of the activities on this list. Most likely your family participates in several activities on this list, ones that have a much higher incident of injury than trampolines.

Of all trampoline related injuries seen in Emergency rooms, more than 75% of them have occurred when multiple people were using the trampoline at once, causing a collision or an accidental bump off the side of the trampoline. Even though children under 4 sustain less injuries overall, these younger children and toddlers are at greater risk of injuries because their bones and bodies are still growing. Children 4 and under tend to suffer most of their injuries while jumping on a standard size trampoline with bigger, older kids. Because they are smaller than the person they are jumping with, they tend to get bumped around and hurt while the older, bigger person does not. Children in this age group also tend to fall over the side of the trampoline more frequently because their coordination is still developing.

However, just like wearing a helmet when riding a bike, life jackets when swimming, and pads when playing sports, there are things that can be done to reduce your risk of injury when using a trampoline. There are many people that own trampolines that have never seen an injury occur in their family. You will never be able to remove all risk from any situation, but there are always things you can do to make activities safer for your family to enjoy!

We’ve talked about some of the common risks associated with the use of trampolines, but are there benefits to using them as well? We all know how important it is to be physically active. Physical exercise benefits people of all ages, in every stage of life, and is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellness. Being physically active together as a family has an even bigger health boost. It can benefit not only your physical health but your mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Using a trampoline can help create routines and bonds that will last a lifetime. Let’s look at some of the health benefits of using a trampoline.

Benefits of Using a Trampoline

The act of jumping up and down on a trampoline is actually a form of cardiovascular exercise called rebounding. Rebounding can have some really great benefits for your body and mind. Unless you have some underlying health issue that prevents you from participating in physical activity, this type of exercise is also recommended for children and adults of all ages and fitness levels.

Some of the most common benefits to rebounding exercises include: reduced stress; improved circulation, coordination and heart health; better balance; and higher endurance levels. It can also stimulate your bodies lymphatic system, which helps flush and drain toxins from your body and helps provide support to your immune system. It can also support pelvic floor health which is especially helpful for mothers who have given birth.

Jumping on a trampoline is considered a low-impact exercise that works many muscles in your body at once. These muscles include your core, glutes, legs and back. Strengthening these muscles can also help you achieve and maintain proper posture, which in turn, can help reduce a lot of body aches and pains. As opposed to running, which takes place on a hard surface and can damage bones, the act of bouncing on a softer surface can actually help your bones grow stronger!

Rebounding exercises are especially beneficial for toddlers particularly those between the ages of 2 to 4, who are just starting to develop their sense of balance. There are even trampolines made specifically for toddlers so that they can get the benefits offered by trampolines in a safer, more controlled and structured way.

Aside from all of the potential physical health benefits of trampoline use on people as individuals, using a trampoline is a great outdoor activity that can be done together as a family. The memories that can be made jumping together in the fresh air are priceless, and a trampoline is something that can be used by all members of the family, and last for many, many years. Helping you to create life-long bonds that your family will always remember!

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, there can be several risks that may come with owning a trampoline, but there are just as many, if not more risks, associated with other activities that you and your family may already be participating in as well. And just like most other recreation activities, there are always things you can do to make your possibility of injury while using a trampoline less likely, or even nonexistent. Being mindful about safety while using your trampoline, just like you would in just about any other situation, is probably the best way to stay safe and make way for more family fun.

Many decisions that you have to make for your family will be based on whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks. Hopefully this article has given you a little bit of insight into both the risks and the benefits of getting a trampoline for your home. We hope that you will benefit from this information while you are making the decision of whether or not a trampoline will be a good, safe, investment for your family!

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