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Published: March 25, 2021
Skydiving is the original extreme sport, and such pursuits are hard on your body, right? Extreme sports are loosely defined as including an element of risk, and while leaping out of airplanes does indeed have some risk involved - it is way, way more managed and precise than it is often presented. Skydiving is an intense, thrilling experience but it is also a sport, a lifestyle, and a full-time occupation - in which training, experience, and technology are all applied thoroughly to make it comfortable and repeatable. Without prior knowledge, it is quite easy to think that jumping out of an airplane, deploying a parachute, and landing on the ground is tough on your back - but with just a small amount of the right training and information it is an active but entirely non-violent good time. Here is a bit of detail...
Skydiving aircraft are small by comparison. Instead of walking on board like a commercial flight, embarking is more like clambering into the back of a truck with your friends. Everyone faces backward and there are no seats because they get in the way. The exit order depends on who is doing what, so getting in correctly first is important. It is not exactly luxurious travel, but being in the plane is comfortable enough and you are not in there for long. Moving around carefully is the way to do things without any stress and strain, and you will receive specific instructions throughout the process - in the briefing, when you board and when you are preparing to jump.
Freefall is a comfy place. The 'relative wind' created by falling through the air at 120mph supports your body, and the arch position that you perform is not hard on your back. You can carefully practice arching on the ground by lying on your front and picking up your chin to look forwards and everything else except your hips. Even for a few seconds, this feels like hard work, but up in the sky, you won't even notice. The arch position is the one you use for tandem skydiving and what you learn first as a student because it is very stable and keeps you belly down with your parachute where it needs to be (on your back pointing upwards).
Parachutes are very good at what they are designed to do. They want to be open and flying more than they want to be packed into a container, and using science and maths and brains people have tweaked and refined modern canopies to get exactly the performance needed. The deployment part, when you slow down from terminal velocity (120mph thereabouts) happens smoothly rather than all at once - and although video footage of skydivers deploying looks as though they decelerate really fast - it is actually smooth and steady.
Parachutes can be steered to where you want to go and can be flared for landing. A landing flare is done to transfer the energy of your downward and forward motion into level flight and slowing speed. With a little timing, landing a parachute is as gentle as hopping down off a single step, or in the case of tandem skydiving - sliding in on your bum (it is much easier to slide than to land on your feet with two people harnessed together). If you are jumping tandem, you need to pick your legs up at the hip and have them straight out in front for landing - but this is just for the final few seconds and will be queued by your instructor.
Skydiving is not bad for your back, and skydiving with back problems is possible - but if you do have a back issue and want to skydive the best course of action is to consult your doctor first. We are also available to answer any questions you might have about the process before you book. Skydiving is surprisingly accessible and we want as many people as possible to jump with us - but we are not doctors. While it is much, much less than most people think - jumping from airplanes does include an element of risk. A parachute can open a little hard or a landing can be a touch bumpy, but such things are few and far between. Skydiving is not a ride, it is a sport. If you are a tandem student or learning to skydive by yourself, you contribute to things going perfectly by engaging with it and doing your part of things extra well - stretch out a bit in the morning, listen properly to the briefing, move purposefully in the plane, hold the correct position and listen to your instructor. Most importantly though - have all the fun! Skydiving is a truly amazing thing and we look forward to having you jump with us.
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