Slacklines are great tools for balance training, but they have the potential to be dangerous.
The majority of slackline injuries come from improperly setting up a slackline or people overestimating their ability's while attempting to do tricks.
If you are new to slacklining and are just practicing basic moves like walking the line or yoga lining with a ratchet system on a line that is not very long or not set up too high the risk of injury is significantly reduced.
Below are some ofthe most common ways slackline users are injured.
Always backup your slacklines
Always tie back your rigging equipment particularly if you are into longlining or tricklining because of the extreme amount of tension that you put on these lines
I think the number one safety tip in this guide is always to tie back the ratchet, pulley or whatever rigging equipment you are using because if it fails, it can come flying at your or bystanders and cause severe damage.
There are many ways you can back up your rigging equipment to keep it from flying at you in the event of a failure, the video below gives a few tips.
How to backup a slackline
What can happen if you do not have a back up
An example of what can happen if you do not backup your slackline. In this video, the ratchet breaks free, and rockets into this man knee causing server damage. This man mentioned in the comment section of the clip it took a very long time to recover from this accident.
If the ratchet were tied back, it would have stopped it from flying off at him.
I would like to thank this man for helping to spread awareness of about this issue by posting this video.
Warning video shows his knee split open at the end.
Slackline Webbing Breaking
How to avoid line breaks.
Many factors can cause slackline webbing to fail, but that best way to prevent this from happening to you is by doing preventative maintenance. Get into the habit of thoroughly inspecting the webbing for signs of damage when you set it up and take it down.
Look for evidence of fraying, cuts or knicks if you find any discard the line and replace with a new one.
The most common way you can damage slackline webbing is by improperly using a ratchet rig.
Once a slackline webbing starts fraying it is significantly weakened and will be more likely to snap.
If the webbing is not set perfectly in the center of the ratchet, it can cause the webbing to rub on the ratchet and will eventually cause the webbing to start fraying on the edges of the line.
Whathappens when a line breaks
When a slackline snaps, it releases all the tension in the line turning it into a whip, the user or people standing too close to the line can be hit with this whip and become seriously injured.
If you are jumping or doing a bouncing trick when the line breaks you will take a hard fall onto the ground, having a crash pad under you will help to soften the fall.
Improperly removing tension on a stuck Slackline
Long line slacklines require tremendous amounts of tension to get them to the proper tension if the rigging fails and does not let the user detention the slackline correctly do not ever cut the line standing next to it.
Being hit by the slackline that has much tension on it can cause fatal injuries.
One way of getting a slackline down that will not detention is to put some lighter fluid on it, set it on fire and run like hell but even this method is not 100% safe.
How to help avoid problems with your slackline ratchets and other rigging equipment.
You can help to prevent a problem with your rigging gear by performing preventive maintenance.
Periodically examine your equipment for signs of rust or damage.
Wipe down and clean ratchets of any dirt, sand or salt after every use.
After cleaning, you can spray down the moving parts with a silicone based lubricant.
How not to take down a stuck slacklining
In the video below you can see someone cutting down a stuck slackline, it mentions the comments that he broke his finger in a few places while doing this.
Setting up a slackline on tree that are to weak or on something that cant handle the loads of slacklining.
Setting up a slackline on anything that can't handle the forces of someone walking and jumping on the line can cause the trees, poles, or pillars to fall.
Another thing to keep in mind is most building columns, pillars or poles are only designed to handle a static load from above. Which means they can not take the dynamic forces of being pulled from the side that a slackline will create as seen in the video below.
If you do not have any of trees to set up a slackline on, check out my guide to setting up slacklines without trees for some ideas.
How to choose the right size tree to set up a slackline.
If using a high tension line for longlining or trickling try to find trees as big as possible, 18 inches around is a good starting point.
If using a shorter distance line, you can get away with using trees that have a 15 in diameter but the larger the trees you can use will be safer.
Examine the tree for signs of weakness make sure it has healthy roots, no dead branches on it, or it is not infested with termites or caterpillars.
If the trees are too weak to use for slacklining, you will see the trees bending when you set up the line or are using the line.
Broken ribs are a common injury for people attempting to do slackline tricks.
If you are new to slacklining, keep the slackline as low as possible so it does not end up touching the ground when you hop on it can help prevent this from happening.
Unfortunately, if you set up a trick line or long line, you need to set it up higher to avoid the line from hitting the ground.
Video below shows how easy it is to break a rib.
Getting punched by the slackline.
Getting smacked, slapped, punched or whatever you want to call it, is something to be mindful of when your slacklining.
This can what happens when you quickly remove tension from the line with your bodyweight, and then the line comes flying up or to the side.
I read one account of someone being slapped under the jaw and having their jaw fractured in a few places.
Example of getting slapped by a slackline
Man being injured in the groin by slackline
Ahhh...a classic slackline injury "man being hit by slackline".
This video shows another version of getting slapped by a slackline.
Furthermore, if someone is standing too close to the slack line while it is being used they are in danger of being slapped because the line can also be slapped from side to side.
Protecting other people from your slackline
Make sure to take slacklines down when not in use, especially in public spaces
Not taking the slackline down when it is not being used can turn your slackline into a trip line.
I read one account of a cyclist losing his life by running into a slackline that was not taken down.
Do not set up slacklines on or near bicycle paths.
Do not leave your slackline unattended.
Try and set up some type warning sign around the line such as using orange cones or caution tape to alert people of the slackline.
If a crowd or children start to gather around your slackline while you are using it tell them to stand back and explain some of the dangers mentioned in this guide to them, so the do not get hurt if something goes wrong.
Slacklne Crash Pads
Crash pads are weatherproof foam mats that you can place under the slackline to help soften falls from slacklines.
Most people will use crash pads made for rock climbing because they can be cheaper, more portable and are designed to be used outdoors than gymnastic mats
A few slackline companys such as Gibbons have started making slackline specific crash pads now
Some people in the slackline community debate that using crash pads can cause more joint injuries then if not used and that their sole purpose is to protect from head injuries.
There is not any hard science supporting whether using them is safer than not using them, is a decision you will have to make for yourself.
Another thing to be careful of is using an old mattress as a crash pad.
When a bed is left outside it will start to decompose, and eventually, the springs will break through the mattress and stab you.
Do you have any other slackline safety tips? Please leave them in the comment section, I will continue to update this guide as needed.
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