Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Basics of Bungee Jumping

You have seen them taking leaps from bridges, cranes and platforms. Diving headfirst into what appears to be a disastrous encounter with the ground and then being “saved” at the last second by the bungee cords attached to their ankles. You may have shaken your head and called them “fools”, or worse, or you may have said to yourself, “Wow! I've got to try that!” If you are one of those who is ready to try it yourself, ready to feel the rush, then you will be happy to know it's not that hard to get started.

There are permanent bungee jump locations in many of the larger cities where you can go most any time of the year to 'take the plunge'. In addition, there are traveling bungee experiences that will eventually come near you. Once you get connected with the place, you may be surprised how easy it is to take your first jump.

Bungee, for the casual jumper, does not require a lot of knowledge of the sport or any personal equipment. All it requires is the courage to jump. The operators of bungee concessions are trained professionals who know the equipment. They have done the “math” and can tell exactly how long a bungee cord needs to be for each individual jumper. Your 'training' will be quite short, just a simple explanation of the procedures and you will most likely be required to sign a disclaimer that explains the parks responsibility, their limits of liability, and acknowledge that you have no known medical conditions that disqualify you from bungee jumping. Your height and weight will then be recorded and you'll be attached to the proper length bungee cord (depending on your size) by a harness. Depending on the bungee concession, you may get a choice between harnesses.

There are two basic types of bungee harnesses to choose from: the ankle harness (both ankles are normally harnessed) and the body harness. Jumping with an ankle harness is what might be considered 'classic' bungee jumping (in almost every case you will also have some type of body harness as a backup but the actual jump and the bounce(s) back up will be by virtue of your ankle harness. If you are pulled back up or lowered to the ground, the body harness will be used).

The body harness (without an ankle harness) will no doubt be less stressful on your ankles and legs and will 'feel' safer for most novices. The body harness may have the bungee cord attached at your stomach or at your back. Then at the end of your free fall, when the bungee cord starts to exert its pull, you will need to be facing up or down depending on where it is attached.

Not to worry, the jump operator will carefully explain this procedure to you before the jump. The bungee concession will, no doubt, have rules about 'how' you are allowed to jump but just for your information, here are some of the various types of jumps: The “swallow dive” is accomplished by leaping away from the platform with your arms stretched out like a bird.

The 'back dive' is much like the back dive you would perform off the high dive at a swimming pool. Jump back and gracefully go into a nose-dive. The 'bat drop' is something you will never be allowed to do at a bungee concession but just for your information, it is a maneuver where you get yourself hanging upside down (like a bat sleeps), hanging from your toes or having a couple amigos hold your ankles and then just drop straight down. The 'elevator drop' is a feet first jump -- you maintain the feet first position until the harness takes over.

Warning: If you are jumping with an ankle harness, the 180-degree flip (when the bungee cord takes over) could exert a lot of force on your ankles and legs and could hurt you). The 'pogo' is really a dangerous maneuver to be used by only the most experienced jumpers. Using an ankle harness, you jump feet first (the elevator drop) but you are holding onto the bungee cord, near the ankle harness.

Ideally, when the bungee cord is fully extended, you will still be in an upright position and will “pogo“ up and down a few times.

The reality is, this maneuver makes it very easy to get hurt (and besides, the bungee concession operators ask you to never touch the bungee cords with your bare hands. For more articles related to this subject and others please visit Extreme Sports Info