Monthly Archives: June 2015

What Are Trampoline Mats Made Of?

Trampoline mats have come a long way since their earliest versions. Both in terms of durability and bounce, they have been designed to handle both heavy use and the elements with ease, standing up to significant punishment and still retaining their properties. Of course, they were not always made of the materials that are common today, and new technologies keep coming out that will continue changing them as time goes on. Still, there is a fascinating history that gets us to modern trampoline mats.

Upper Bounce Trampoline Mat

The Original Trampolines

Perhaps the earliest form of “trampolining” was more of a team sport. Some of our earliest records are in the form of documents from the Inuit festival Nalukataq. This annual festival was designed to celebrate the end of the spring whaling season, with successful crews having parties and congratulating one another for a good hunt.

The most notable feature of this festival was the blanket toss, a tradition where people would grab the ends of a walrus skin, somebody else would climb on top, and they would be thrown in the air and caught again. People could go as high as ten or more feet up before coming back down again.

Some records show that a similar activity may have been engaged in in various places throughout Europe, but it appears to have been used as a punishment rather than an amusement, such as in at least one stage version of the story of Don Quixote.

The modern idea of the “trampoline” however was created in the 1930s by George Nissen and Larry Griswold. They envisioned a number of uses, including to train acrobats and tumblers. One less solitary sport they conceived of, Spaceball, had team rules for a complex two-on-two game that they hoped would one day become as popular as baseball or basketball.

In their case, the mats were made of military-grade canvass and stretched on a iron frame. The canvass was able to support the weight of quite a few adults and was resistant to tearing in the center, but over time the grommets that were placed on the edges started to comes loose and not only fall to pieces but also lose some of their springiness.

Modern Improvements

While some modern trampolines are still made of waterproof canvas, though a much sturdier version with re-enforcement around the areas where it is attached to the springs, most trampoline mats are made of a substance called TenCate Permatron.

TenCate Permatron is made by the Royal Ten Cate company in the Netherlands which has been making materials of various sorts for more than 300 years. Despite several decades on the market, no company has been able to improve on the TenCate Permatron formula.

The way these mats are made is by weaving long cabon fibers with a synthetic polypropylene. This thermoplastic polymer has a variety of uses from packaging to making thermal underwear because of its strength and versatility.

What’s particularly interesting about TenCate Permatron mats is that they don’t actually stretch even though they look and feel like they do. The springs are the things doing the stretching and, while the mat warps under the weight of the person jumping, the fibers themselves stay in the same shape. This prevents them from wearing out with extended use. The lack of stretching and incredibly tight box weave make this material very hard to break with regular use.

Another advantage of TenCate Permatron is that the fibers are thermally interlocked and UV treated so that they won’t break down in the sun and can stand up to a number of different types of weather conditions.

Where Are We Going?

Right now, TenCate Permatron is the gold standard for trampoline mats and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. However, with recent advances in materials technology, it’s possible that any day a more durable, more resistant, and more elastic mat will come on the market and replace the familiar feel that so many of us grew up with.

In the meantime, it’s good to know that our trampolines are made the best available material and able to keep us safely enjoying such an exciting activity.

The Trampoline Market In The US.

Trampolines have been around since the early 1930s, and they are more popular now than ever. With the addition of new safety measures, these pieces of sporting equipment have really taken off and provided hours of fun every year. Since the introduction of commercial trampolines in the 1950s, interest in them has only increased by leaps and bounds.

Little Tikes Trampoline

How Many Trampolines Are Sold

In the United States alone, there are dozens of trampoline and rebounder manufacturers. It is estimated by the National Institute of Health that approximately 500,000 trampolines are sold in the US annually. This accounts for roughly $720 million in the sale of actual trampolines, not to mention the amount of money that is made on indoor recreation parks focused on bouncing.

While not huge, trampolines are still very big business in this country and the market continues to grow with more and more companies entering every year at various levels.

Trampoline Makers

There are several companies currently making trampolines and rebounders on the modern market. They have all managed to gain reputations for themselves over time. Here are just a few of them:

1. Airzone – For many people, due to the price, these are the first kinds of backyard trampoline they own. There are several lines that the company produces, including one that uses elastic brands rather than springs to attach the mat, and they have been plagued by recalls several times in the past. At best, Airzone can be considered entry-level trampolines and probably shouldn’t be expected to last long-term.

2. JumpSport – This company has solidified itself in the market already, if for no other reason than that they were the first company to invent a trampoline safety net. They’ve been leaders in safety ever since, not to mention providing a high quality product for a reasonable price and either a 10-year or lifetime warranty on their frames. JumpSport is largely responsible for the last decade’s worth of increased sales.

3. Skywalker Trampolines – This company has the largest manufacturing facility of any other company that produces trampolines in the country. Their products tend to be inexpensive and are not reliable for the long haul, but their short-term offerings aren’t bad as are their indoor rebounders.

4. Springfree Trampolines – This company is particularly interesting because they have actually created a brand new spring-free bouncing system that uses fiberglass rods to create the trampoline effect. This also has the added bonus of separating the frame from the mat so that users won’t accidentally hit it while they’re bouncing.

Trampoline Sellers

There are countless outlets where you can buy trampolines from various brands, too many to name specifically. However, these are some of the types of retailer that you can go to get a new trampoline or rebounder.

1. Big Box Stores – You can usually find at least two or three different kinds of trampolines in the Toy or Sporting Goods departments of your local big box retailer. While these won’t necessarily be the best quality, they will often be inexpensive and provide you with an entry into the sport.

2. Sporting Goods Stores – Trampolines are considered important equipment for a number of sports like gymnastics. As such, you’ll usually find several different brands, shapes, and quality of trampoline at sporting goods stores. They will generally have a larger selection than big box retailers and staff trained to know more about the options.

3. Online Retailers – These days it’s possible to find almost any trampoline online someplace. Not only are these generally available on the manufacturer’s website, but large catch-all retailers like Amazon and Overstock can provide not only a wide selection but excellent deals. It’s not recommended to purchase used from a site like Ebay since there is no way to tell what the state of the item is in and it could be dangerous.

The Strength of the Market

As should be obvious, the trampoline market is secure and growing more so every year. As safety features become more standard and companies continue to innovate, it is likely to keep growing for the foreseeable future.

Are Trampolines Safe For Lower Back Problems?

There are a number of opinions from various sources as to how a trampoline affects the lower back. Some people believe it to be safe and even beneficial while others consider trampolining something that will only exacerbate pre-existing problems. The fact of the matter is, there are a number of different causes of back pain and working on a trampoline might help some and worsen others. First, it’s important to understand what might cause lower back pain.

Super Jumper Combo Trampoline

Low Back Pain Causes

There are several things that can cause low back problems. According to orthopedic doctors, about 80% of people will suffer from low back problems at some point in their life, and a significant portion of those will have “chronic” low back pain, meaning that it affects their lives for more than three months continuously.

Among the most common causes of low back pain is degenerative or herniated discs. Your spinal column is not solid: it is made of a number of small bones that are separated by spongy tissue called “discs” to allow them to bend without rubbing themselves apart. When one of these discs starts to degrade or becomes inflamed, it can result in significant low back problems.

Because of the nature of disc issues, an activity like trampolining might not be the best idea because it forces the back muscles to tighten in order to protect the spine which can cause further damage.

Spondylolisthesis, on the other hand, can be helped immensely by rebounding or working out on the trampoline. This particular condition is caused by the normal wear and tear on joints and ligaments over time becoming so bad that they can no longer hold the parts of your spine where they should be. This results in your vertebrae falling down and rubbing against one another, wearing them away, pinching nerves, and causing further damage.

Using a trampoline to work out can not only strengthen your core muscles so that they can better hold your spine in place, it can also keep those ligaments in better shape and prevent them from allowing your spine to collapse on itself.

Similarly, the bone building properties of trampoline exercises can help with osteoporosis that puts pressure on the bones in your spine and even causes them to fracture over time.

How Trampolining Can Help

The reason why these are often blamed for low back problems is that there are a number of ways that your back is engaged while working on a trampoline. As mentioned above, you instinctively start to tighten your core muscles while jumping in order to improve your balance and protect your spine from vibrations caused by impact with the ground.

Similarly, the pressure from that impact is distributed over the entire body in a relatively even way. That means that while running will put all of the weight and effects of gravity on the feet, ankles, and legs, trampolining will distribute some of that to the back, neck, shoulders, and head.

While that is certainly the case, it does promote a more balanced approach to working out and prevents injuries to parts of the body that would otherwise have the take the full force of any impacts with hard surfaces. Further, by distributing the energy evenly, it keeps too much impact from affecting any particular area of the body.

This can be incredibly helpful if you have a number of different issues that you have to deal with and can’t afford to allow any given area to take too much punishment. It can help build muscles up evenly and strengthen bones as well.

Is It Safe or Not?

This is not a question that is easy to answer. It can be safe and even beneficial given the right exercises and for certain conditions, and a terrible idea for others.

In most cases, it’s best to consult with a doctor before starting a regular trampolining routine if you have chronic back pain. Try to identify the problem and ask whether a rebounder or trampoline is likely to exacerbate it.

Trampolines and rebounders can make for great, fun, and incredibly effective exercise, but the first step should always be making sure that you’re safe.

Why People Over 50 Should Consider Trampolining

It is commonly understood that the older one gets, the less their body responds to work and the more effort they have to make in order to stay in shape. What you did as a kid is simply harder as an adult and becomes more difficult as you get older. That being said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great ways to stay healthy and fight off a lot of the negative effects of aging by doing the right kind of exercise.

Trampolining and rebounding are some of the best types of workouts for many people in their 50s and above. Not only is it a lot of fun, but the physical benefits are far higher than more traditional forms of exercise like running and it’s easier on the body. The popularity of the activity is due to no less an authority than NASA. in fact.

ExacMe Trampoline

Rebounding For Astronauts

When a person is in zero gravity, they start to lose bone and muscle mass very quickly. In some cases, two weeks in a gravity-free environment can be enough to cause up to 15% of mass from those areas to go away.

NASA decided that they had to do something about this problem if long-term space flight was ever going to be a reality. As such, they started to do research into various exercise routines in order to find the most efficient way to maintain the health of astronauts, and what they found was amazing.

It turns out that because of the way the body moves while rebounding, it is actually up to 68% more effective and uses less oxygen and energy to get that benefit. There are a number of reasons for this covered below, but the main findings of these studies was that rebounding was much better for astronauts than most other forms of exercise, so it has become a major part of exercise in space.

How Rebounding Works

One of the major reasons why jumping on a trampoline or rebounder is so much more effective is where the force is put. When you are running, such as on a treadmill, the majority of your weight and the effects of gravity fall primarily on your feet and ankles every time you hit the ground. This can have serious negative effects on your feet, calves, ankles, and legs, especially as you grow older. Rebounding more evenly distributes the force of gravity across your whole body so that no one part takes too much punishment.

The reason why it is so effective is the progression of actions that are taken and what they encourage the body to do.

The first thing that happens is that you work the strength in your legs to take off and accelerate upward, which also has the benefit of improving lymphatic function. The lymphatic system runs up and down the body and transports immune cells to possible places of infection or disease, so increased Lymphocyte activity means better general health.

The next step is a split second zero gravity pause at the top of your jump. It doesn’t seem like much, but this can rest the body and allow you to work out for longer.

Next is a downward acceleration at an increased G-force. What this does is force you to work your core muscles — such as your abs, back, shoulders, and sides — in order to help maintain your balance in preparation for landing. In a related matter, it helps improve your balance in general.

Finally, when you actually hit the mat again, you are working all of the muscles in your body evenly, distributing the weight along your whole frame, building bone and muscle, and distributing oxygen more efficiently to promote higher energy.

Getting Started Right Away

It’s really easy to get started with this sort of exercise. You can get a decent trampoline or rebounder for less than $100 in many cases and you only need to do about 15 minutes a day to start seeing at least some results.

There is no reason not to get to trampolining right away. Whether it’s an outdoor rig or a small indoor rebounder, you can be sure that you’ll get a better, easier, and more enjoyable workout by trampolining.

How To Strengthen Core Muscles

Your core is the literal center of your body. Having strong core muscles does more than look good at the beach: it also can affect your balance, your energy levels, and how you interact with many daily tasks you have to do. Needless to say that good core health is drastically important.

But how do you maintain a strong core?

There are a number of exercises and techniques that can help you keep your core strong and are also fun to do. They will encourage you to work out and can make your back feel better, your stomach flatter, and your shoulders more defined. Here are just a few of them.

Exercise equipment

Regular Core Exercises

It’s very easy to find dozens of different exercises online that will help you build your core muscles, often as part of larger groups of core workouts. For example, there are several different types of crunches that can help people with various body types, physical limitations, or goals outside of just core work. Bicycle crunches also work the legs, to name just one, and are often more fun than regular ones.

There are also a wide range of core exercises that can be done from a seated position and don’t put stress on the back. The Knee Fold Tuck is one of these, as is the Climber. In the case of the former, you don’t even have to do any repeated movements, just hold yourself where you are for several seconds and then release.

Planks are also a core exercise group that is very popular because they can be done alone fairly easily. Like the Knee Fold Tuck, planks have no repeated movements and build your core by forcing your body to engage the core muscles and then release them.

One way to get a diverse array of core exercises is to find a class that incorporates them into a more complete workout.

Why Don’t You Try Yoga?

Yoga is an excellent approach to increased core strength because so many of the poses incorporate that into their design.

From Boat Pose to Bridge Pose to Full Wheel, many of the poses, even the modified versions, end up giving you a great core workout. In cases such as Pigeon Pose, you may not even notice that when you exit the pose your stomach muscles release and you have been engaging them the whole time.

Many people are afraid to take a yoga class, often because they think they “don’t have the body for it.” In most cases, yoga classes are very accepting of people of all body types, and will help you safely do the exercises, providing modified versions if necessary, and encouraging you to do your best. It’s one of the better core improving strategies you can employ.

Trampolines and Rebounders

For most people, their center of gravity is in their torso, so exercises that improve balance also end up working the core muscles. That’s why trampolines and indoor rebounders can be such great pieces of equipment for this very purpose.

Stretched membrane devices like trampolines force the body to learn how to adjust itself in often subtle ways in order to get better jumps and land safely. Since, as previously mentioned, the center of gravity that is so important to balance is in the torso, that means that some of those subtle adjustments happen in the core muscles to better move the center of gravity where it needs to be.

Try spending several hours on a rebounder and see exactly how tired your abs are.

Make Sure You’re Enjoying Yourself

The best method for improving your core is the one that you do consistently. Crunches may be great for you, but if you’re not actually doing them, they won’t help you improve at all. Instead, you need to do the thing that you enjoy, that you’re looking forward to, so that you’ll keep it up even when it’s difficult.

Make sure that the techniques that you’re using are ones that are fun for you and don’t be ashamed to stop doing something you don’t like. There are plenty of ways to strengthen your core, do the one that you enjoy the best.

How To Improve Balance

One of the most difficult problems for a lot of people is that they have trouble balancing. Whole workouts are predicated on doing little more than teaching people how to be aware of their body’s relation to the ground, and it is a staple skill for dancers and other athletes to be able to find their balance instantly.

Balance isn’t an unknowable force, however. It is a part of how we move through the world that you can enhance, becoming more graceful and agile as well as improving your physical health.

Yes4All Stability Disk

What Balance Is

A person’s sense of balance, despite what you may think, has little to do with their feet and legs. Instead, balance originates in the inner ear where something called the vestibular system exists. The vestibular system is your body’s way of telling how close to the middle of every point of contact with the ground your center of gravity is.

The first step in improving your balance is to become aware of your vestibular system, paying close attention to how your head feels in various positions. While this is difficult at first, eventually it becomes second nature to feel where you are in relation to the ground and your center of gravity.

Trampolines

There are a number of exercises that can be used to improve your balance, but few are as good as using backyard trampolines or indoor rebounders.

Perhaps the most obvious reason goes back to what balance is: your perception of how close to even your center of gravity is between all of your points of connection to the ground. Trampolines, rebounders, and anything with a stretched membrane work by making the ground deform and retract slightly based on your movement. This allows your body to naturally start to gain a sense of the unconscious shifts necessary to maintain that equilibrium. Just walking on these can help you learn to adjust your body position to compensate for changes in the terrain.

But, of course, what good is a trampoline if you don’t jump on it? The jumping provides another strategy for learning how to balance. In this case, the up and down motion helps your body adjust in anticipation of a particular terrain. While you are in the air, you are making calculations that you don’t even realize and learning to adjust your body position in slight ways to land safely and even increase your height. Our instinctive understanding of observed physical properties tells us that the best jumps happen when your center of gravity is poised between points of contact with the mat, what we might otherwise call “perfectly balanced,” and trampolines give you a chance to learn to control that as well as a measure of how well you’re doing.

Core Exercises

Have you ever seen a ballerina’s abs? They tend to be highly defined and very, very strong. Much of balance comes from having strong core muscles, a term referring to the muscle groups in your torso like abs, pectorals, and even shoulders.

Since most people’s center of gravity is in their torso, having a powerful core provides an opportunity to make tiny balance corrections by engaging your stomach or back muscles. Doing core exercises like crunches and planks can significantly improve balance. Try to avoid sit-ups, though, since they can not only hurt your back, but also work your hip flexors more than your core.

Learn to Juggle

This seems a little strange, but learning to juggle can actually help improve a very specific kind of balance: neurophysical balance. This is how your brain and your body work together to keep you from wobbling. Learning how to juggle helps you get a sense of how tiny movements can have large effects on a system as well as teaches your body how to keep the center of gravity between points.

The other benefit is that is can be a very impressive party trick.

Gaining Balance Carefully

Like with any other skill, it’s important to recognize that you will not become a master over night. It will take you several hours on the trampoline or throwing apples in the air. However, if you’re dedicated, you can improve your balance significantly.