Highliner/Trickliner Jeremy Beard Shares His Experience
If you partake in any physical activity for a long enough time, you’re bound to sustain a few injuries along the way. Injuries are part of the risk you take with any activity worth doing and slacklining is no different. It’s the nature of the beast as they say. It is important to realize what an injury means and how to continue with your activity during the healing process. This is my 4-year account of slacklining-related injuries.
Managing Common Slackline Injuries
The first slackline injury I was introduced to are common to most slackliners trying out their first moves on the line. I won’t waste much time talking about these as they’re insignificant in hindsight but I treat them as a rite of passage for those who are more serious about slacklining. These injuries are the miniscule cuts, the burns, the slackrash, and the missing leg hair from countless conversations with the slackline. As you interact with the slackline for the first time and introduce frays and nicks to the webbing, it responds and introduces you to the sort of injuries through which are easily persevered. Visual reminders of a satisfying session, each of us would rather bare these scars than stay safely at home.
The line blurs when you begin sustaining these small burns and whips consistently over a period of time. Most trickliners are familiar with the slap of the line against the underarm as a punishment for missing a buttbounce. This is pretty common and I have returned from many sessions with burns from my armpit down my bicep and elbow because of it. Recently these slaps have been leaving my rotator cuff and scapulae feeling pretty raw, long after I’ve taken down the line. Chronic slackline injuries are never clearly defined when they begin and are not that enjoyable to live with when they persist. The only solution with these types is to stop the activity causing the injury, no matter how much you want to push through the pain.
Acute injuries are no less common than chronic injuries when slacklining. I’ve broken both a toe and a finger from slacklining and currently, the toe is still healing up. While I could definitely still slackline with a broken finger, I would not recommend breaking a toe. Although you may be curious what it feels like, broken toes are pretty much the most annoying injury to deal with related to slacklining. Significant enough to provide good reason to keep you away from the slackline but insignificant enough to make you feel like a complete wimp when doing so. Maybe it’s the tennis net getting revenge for me trying to walk across it. Regardless, the green pavement of the tennis court was not quite as forgiving to my toes as the green ground I am used to.
My broken finger was from tricklining…surprise. Apparently fingers do not enjoy being suffocated between slacklines and bodies. To my credit, I still landed the trick I was attempting (either a skydive or a FS freefall, both tricks landing in chestbounces), though it seems insignificant now. Even though this injury kept me from tricklining for a bit, the variety of slacklining methods makes it more than okay. Tricklining getting you hurt? Get into longlining. Longlines throwing you into the ground? Try a rodeoline. You can, in most cases, continue slacklining through injuries if you change up your style. Even within tricklining this is possible. Armpit getting too bruised from tricks landing in buttbounces? Get good at tricks landing in chest bounces – spirals, free falls, blenders. Legs getting wrecked from getting tangled in the line? Try backbounce tricks. There are endless ways to change up your slacklining and the end result will be more variety of skills on the line. There is not much excuse for staying away from the slackline.
Most commoners would see slackline injuries as a negative. With slacklining, injuries force you to work around the injury and find a solution. A little slacklining is better than no slacklining at all. Injuries don’t mean giving up the activity you love. Injuries are part of the deal and at the end of the day, I would rather have a broken toe that puts me out of the game for a little than not satisfy my curiosity of what it feels like to walk on a tennis net. I would rather have an injured shoulder than have given up learning a trick. I would rather have broken my finger than not slacklined that day. Just another parallel between life and slacklining that I’m sure most of you get tired of hearing: with anything worth pursuing, there will be ups and downs and it’s important to work through it all.
This article was written by Jeremy Beard, a contributor to Slackrobats. Welcome Jeremy!