Outsiders often think parkour is for thrill-seekers and those who like to put themselves in danger.
It is a high-impact sport indeed, but the risk level entirely depends on the traceur/euse him- /herself .
There are no distractions, no opponents who behave uncontrollably.
Yet the repeated shocks from high drop landings and angled forces affecting the joints have caused many injuries and forced some athletes to quit.
It is known that these dangers exist, but with proper strength training for injury prevention we can stay injury free throughout our entire training career – but where to start?
Why is it Important to Learn about Parkour Strength Training?
Two main causes why hobby athletes don’t recover from an injury and may quit training for good are:
- they either don’t know how to carefully and gradually strengthen their muscles and connective tissue in proportion to each other and focus on the wrong exercises
- or they don’t have the persistence to follow through with the rehabilitation routine until fully recovered
A lot of athletes know how difficult it is to stay consistent in prehabilitation [read; specific strength training to prevent injuries].
Where olympic athletes can lean on their trainer’s instructions and a pre-written training plan, the athlete without mentor or guide can easily succumb to the difficulties of following through with a routine that isn’t necessarily fun to do.
If we learn from early on how to be sensitive toward our body and how to condition properly, we are equipped with the right habits and knowledge to overcome future injuries or plateaus.
A Difficult Habit to Form
A well rounded strength training routine for parkour is a difficult habit to form, because it’s difficult to work towards a goal whose results aren’t immediately visible.
Taking warming up as an example: it’s well known that warming up the body before a strenuous activity decreases the risk of muscle or tendon injury, yet for a teenager who has never pulled a muscle it is difficult to believe that warming up is really necessary.
If in his personal experience it didn’t make a difference whether he warmed up or not, he won’t see the need to do so.
This is where the first mistakes and failures come in to help us learn. Experiencing pulled muscles or minor injuries that could’ve been prevented are trigger events to learn the importance of a good warm up.
Grow like a Toddler
We naturally learn from the outside to the inside. From the most obvious and superficial part, to the more complex that is needed to master a skill. Be it in forming words, learning language, or developing movement skills.
A baby that learns walking tries to copy the adults around it.
It wants to get up and start walking, but faces challenges along the way. Getting up on the feet. Balancing standing upright. Taking one step after another and – falling, time and time again. It stops once it loses interest or there is other physiologic feedback that needs more attention.
The baby learns from the feedback it gets from its body, from feeling. There is no brain firing thought messages like:
“My wrist hurts, but it’s only twenty more push-ups to finish my workout!“
“There is a weird pull in my triceps, but I really want to get these wall-ups right.“
“I just started training running pre’s, but I’ve got pretty strong legs – and fourteen feet were no problem in the sandpit either. I’m gonna go for it.”
Being more aware and mindful in one’s training, listening to the feedback from body (and the good half of the mind) will help to avoid injuries getting worse.
But to stop training only to pick up the same routine again once the pain is gone is no solution.
Mindfulness is only one part of the equation…
The Right Balance of Mindfulness and Physiological Knowledge
When learning more complex skills as adult for a quick and safe progress it’s important to take the research [read: documented failures] of others into account. That’s the advantage we have once we grow older – we can choose what path to follow towards our goal, not having to rely solely on the physiological feedback we get from our body.
We can learn from the failures others have documented for us.
It often is a safer road to follow and we can make quick progress if we set aside our insensitivity and won’t insist on repeating our own mistakes time and again. This is why coaches, trainers and tutorials are so sought after, they make learning movements faster for the young through methods that first had to be developed.
Once feeling a disbalance in training, it could be a pain while moving or stagnation in a basic area, it is key to develop a desire to find and fix the root cause of the disbalance through seeking self-education in the field of physiology, anatomy and biology.
That means finding the cause and learning what it takes to get rid of it. Studying at university for the matter isn’t the necessary path to take – reading a well-researched book on the specific subject is the perfect starting point.
Some areas will affect others, and the area of developing a good overall strength in parkour is a pretty basic one. If you’re stuck on your saut de chat, practicing wall-dips could help, as you can learn from the Parkour Strength Training book.
Why is it Difficult to Train for Injury Prevention?
As we grow older we can be stubbornly focused on results. We tend to forget about the beauty of walking the path and rush from goal to goal instead. Reaching a visible goal is what we use to prove to others that we are progressing.
Five years of injury free training might earn the respect of a few experienced practitioners, but the five muscle-ups, recorded on video and posted to Facebook or Instagram can earn hundreds of likes from co-workers and colleagues.
Dopamine and serotonin are the rewarding neurochemicals that create a sense of happiness when we have achieved a goal and others cheer for us. [1,2] Whereas long term results invisible to others are much more difficult to attain because we don’t get the constant neurochemical reward.
It will help to develop and understand the greater vision for your goals to not lose sight of them once things get difficult and we want to quit. It’s about finding a reason to persist beyond the reward of recognition.
Find more videos on parkour specific strength training on Ryan Ford’s Youtube Channel
Either “All-In” or “All-Out” doesn’t work
Trying to deal in absolutes seems to be a default condition to our human nature. We tend to see a programme as either ‘working’ or ‘not working’. It’s a way to discern between what we should stick with and what we can let go or should avoid.
We do so because it’s easy.
The difficulty to maintain a good parkour strength training routine lies in the fact that we have to convince ourselves daily of its usefulness, sometimes without seeing results for quite a while.
Sticking to a healthy routine is about developing a deep desire towards its result, being constantly aware of its benefits.
Cloud your Mind with Thoughts that Align to Your Goals
Even though quick fixes for everything seem to be at hand, chances are the very first one doesn’t cut the deal for you. But rather than pulling away from the whole topic after one attempt, you can decide to lay a foundation so you will know in what direction to grow.
Choosing to cloud your mind with thoughts that align to your goals means getting a good idea of what the overall roadmap looks like by doing research, watching videos on the topic and writing out what you already know.
The map in your mind for parkour strength training should already have a couple of rough outlines on it, but rather than trying to map out only the north-east in high detail, you might want to get an idea what the overall terrain looks like, because it will define your weapons (or exercises) of choice.
Parkour Strength Training by Ryan Ford and Ben Musholt
This is where Ryan Ford and Ben Musholt’s book ‘Parkour Strength Training‘ can give you a good advantage. It helps to develop the overall roadmap for parkour strength training and can be a long-term companion in recovery and building deep strength for parkour, which you can keep coming back to.
The different areas covered in the 272 pages book allow you to develop an understanding for:
- habits and movement routines for an injury free movement career
- basic anatomic knowledge behind muscle- and joint-strength
- taking self-analysis tests to understand where you can improve
- learning how to spot and close strength gaps in your training when stuck on a plateau
- challenging your best students with difficult bodyweight exercise variations
- creating a parkour strength training plan for you, your friends or your students
- a sum of additional topics in article length: games, weight training, programming, injuries, time trials and more…
Ryan Ford, book author, founder of Apex Movement (now with 5 parkour gyms in Colorado / California), TEDx speaker and founder of the educational platform ParkourEDU is a driving force in taking parkour-research and -education to the next level, which is why we are so compelled to support his cause.
At the end of the day it’s about how much of a difference we can make together, as a community and how to support those who are already doing it.
Is there anything more you want to know about the book? Just write a comment and we’ll get back to you.