What You Need to Know About Skydiving and Your Health | Skydive Orange

What You Need to Know About Skydiving and Your Health

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Skydiving is technically a sport, which means there are certain health considerations to be made before making a jump. Not only does skydiving involve physical fitness, but it also includes increased stress levels and high altitudes – which is why you may be met with a raised brow or two if you have particular medical conditions and are thinking of jumping out of an airplane. Skydiving requires a healthy mind and body. Here are a few things to consider before making the jump into the skies!

How Dangerous is Skydiving?

As an organized and hyper-connected community, we genuinely care about doing everything we can to make the sport of skydiving as safe as possible, which is why we started recording statistics back in 1961. Keeping track of injuries, fatalities, and their causes helps us hone in on what we can do to lower the risks associated with jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Skydiving is inherently risky, and sometimes things happen that are completely out of our control. It is crucial to understand the risk of skydiving before attempting to hurl yourself into the wide-open sky.

What You Need to Know About Skydiving and Your Health | Skydive Orange

Here are the facts according to the United States Parachute Association (USPA). In 2023, around 42,000 USPA members made 3.65 million jumps, 10 of which resulted in civilian skydiving fatalities. This is approximately 0.27 fatalities per 100,000 jumps or about 1 death per 370,000 jumps, the lowest it’s ever been in recorded skydiving history. For tandem skydiving, the odds are even better with 1 student fatality per 500,000 jumps on average over the past 10 years.

But is skydiving safe? Well, we would never call jumping out of an airplane safe, but the statistics tell us that the strides we’ve made in skydiving equipment and technology, training methodologies, and prioritization of safety, mitigate the risks significantly.

How Does Skydiving Affect the Body?

Before we get into specific medical conditions that may prevent you from skydiving, let’s go over how skydiving affects the body so you can get a better idea of how your body may handle the experience.

Adrenaline

A surge in the hormone adrenaline is one of the most familiar effects that occur when skydiving: the adrenaline rush, baby! Adrenaline, also called epinephrine, yields a fight or flight response and equips your body with the tools needed to quickly react to a threat. Once adrenaline is released, your heart beats faster, makes you breathe faster, increases the blood flow to your brain and muscles, stimulates the body to make sugar to use for fuel, and stops insulin production. All of this gives you a big old boost of energy and makes you swear! 

Soreness

If you’re in generally physically fit condition, you may not experience any muscle soreness. However, skydiving is an activity that most people don’t experience often, if at all, and so your body may remind you of your jump after the fact! The arch position your body should take in freefall can add stress to your lower back and shoulders. Occasionally, the harness and leg straps might cause some bruising and tenderness to the inside of the upper thigh.

Anxiety

Skydiving is not only physically taxing, it is mentally taxing too. We won’t lie to ya, skydiving can definitely trigger anxiety even if you are normally calm, cool, and collected. If you are someone who experiences high anxiety, panic attacks, and associated emotional dysregulation – these symptoms could be heightened. Be prepared and as always, consult with your doctor if you are concerned. 

What Are the Health Risks of Skydiving?

In USPA’s 2022 report on safety, it was noted that two of the skydiving deaths were related to a preexisting medical problem. This is why it’s best to do a thorough assessment of your overall health and get a doctor’s approval before attempting any activity, especially something as extreme as skydiving. 

Buckle up: we’re going to advise you to talk to your doctor several more times in the next few paragraphs. Why? Because we’re expert skydivers, not medical professionals! Our experiences with the health risks of skydiving are no match to the expert opinion and advice of a physician. If you have any specific medical questions, please always consult with your doctor before booking your jump.

Here are a few medical conditions that we believe warrant a deliberate conversation with a medical professional before you book your skydive.

 

What You Need to Know About Skydiving and Your Health | Skydive Orange

Can You Skydive with High Blood Pressure?

Skydiving can really get your blood pumping, which is why you should take caution if you have hypertension or high blood pressure. On a skydive, your body will experience pressure changes and lower oxygen levels, and adrenaline will be flooding your body – all of which will cause your heart rate to increase and, in turn, increase your blood flow. Skydiving with hypertension is possible, and there are plenty of high-blood-pressure patients who experience no issues with skydiving – however, we urge you to consult with your physician beforehand to be sure.

Is Skydiving Safe for Heart Conditions?

Skydiving puts stress on the heart which may be a concern for those who are diagnosed with any cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia, or congenital heart disease. If this is you, it’s wise to consult with a physician before deciding to book your skydiving reservation. While we want you to experience the thrill of skydiving, it’s more important to us that you are making the choice that is best for your health. If you get the OK from your doc, be sure to let your instructor know of your heart condition before your jump so we can be better prepared to take care of you during the skydive.

Can You Skydive with Asthma?

As we said before, the body may experience lower oxygen levels as you travel above altitudes of 8,000 feet due to the thin air. This lack of oxygen causes our bodies to work harder; so if you’re someone who has asthma or any other breathing challenges, you may need to think twice. You may not have any problems if your asthma is controlled, but if you have chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or severe asthma you should talk with your doctor first. If you have pneumothorax or a collapsed lung, we do NOT recommend skydiving.

Other Medical Conditions That May Prevent Skydiving

Here are some other medical conditions that may preclude you from skydiving. This list is, of course, not exhaustive: 

  • Neck/Back Injuries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Colds

Once you deem you’re good to go, come experience the thrill of freefall and reap all of the health benefits skydiving has to offer! Book your skydive with Skydive Orange or contact a team member if you have any other skydiving health-related questions. Blue skies!

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