What Are the Dangers of Pole Vaulting?

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Pole vaulting is a track and field event in which the competitor uses a long pole to propel himself into the air and over a raised bar. The bar height can reach 6 meters. Ideally, the pole vaulter will clear the bar and fall safely back to earth, landing on a padded mat. Occasionally, injuries happen.

Lower extremities

  • Some of the more common injuries experienced by pole vaulters are sprains and tears. Sometimes a pole vaulter lands awkwardly on the mat beneath the bar, rolling an ankle or hyper-extending a knee, causing injury. Occasionally, the athlete lands on the hard plant-box, the place where the pole is inserted prior to the jump, causing injury to the part of the body that hits the plant-box.

Spinal Injuries

  • Injuries to the spine are usually prevented in pole vaulting by the use of protective mats or landing pads. These injuries are rare. Cases in which the athlete's mid-air momentum changed, causing him to land head-first, have resulted in injury to the spinal cord and paralysis.

Head Injuries

  • Head injuries are also rare, but not unheard of. Pole vaulters have suffered serious injury, and even died as a result of head trauma. One athlete hit his head on the metal plant-box as he fell from his jump. He later died. Another pole vaulter landed with his back on the mat, but hit his head on the pavement nearby.

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  • Photo Credit pole vault image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com
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