Can women practise parkour?

By Sharon “Sola” Merchant In many countries around the world, the role of women both in society and sport has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Women are becoming...

By Sharon “Sola” Merchant

In many countries around the world, the role of women both in society and sport has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Women are becoming stronger, faster, more agile and more determined. In team sports ,athletics and even extreme sports, female stars are emerging and pushing the limits of what was previously thought possible of the female body.  Women have physically developed at an astounding rate. Female swimmers are now swimming faster than men were 10 years ago. However, the injury rate has also increased dramatically. It seems that as women push themselves to their physical limits, the training and conditioning to prepare their bodies and prevent injury seems to be lacking. Women especially seem to be prone to knee injuries and many sports such as football are seeing epidemics of knee injuries, especially ACL tears. A female ACL tends to be smaller than a males and on top of this they tend to have less muscular strength to support the knee. Statistics suggest that female athletes are 3 to 5 times more likely to sustain knee injuries. Training to provide strength and stability in the legs is therefore 3 to 5 times more important!

As an athlete, it is essential that you learn to listen to your body and to follow a program of conditioning to ensure your body is strong enough to cope with the demands of your sport. For women, this is even more essential. We often start from a much lower level of strength than most males and therefore we must accept, that we must initially be prepared for a long period of training to achieve what for males may come very easily and rapidly. Parkour when practiced properly can offer a thorough and rigorous training regime to prepare the body for action, and limit the risk of injury. When practicing parkour the body is subjected to great strain from impact and a high level of exertion and dynamism. This impact is doubly dangerous when impacted on the comparatively weak frame of an average beginner traceuse. Correct training and preparation is therefore essential.

So what does this mean? Women start of weaker than men and will never achieve the levels of strength and power that the top male practitioners display. However, it has been proven that women are able to comparatively increase there muscle by an equal amount to men. You must ask yourself why you want to do parkour? Do you want to be the best? WHO are you competing with? The answer should be only yourself. Women , like all living beings, are ALWAYS able to improve themselves. We can always become stronger, both physically and mentally, and we can always learn something about ourselves and our bodies. By this rational, OF COURSE women can practise parkour! For those who understand the true essence of this discipline; the traceuse conscientiously practicing a 3ft precision on to a 4 inch curb is practicing parkour every bit as much as a traceur doing a 10ft kong to precision. It is the approach and the spirit that counts.

So, in conclusion, we all have the necessary ingredients to participate, to learn and to develop in this discipline. For a traceur, it is possible to see what is possible for a male at very advanced levels of development by observing the founders and the top practitioners such as the yamakasi. As a traceuse, we do not yet have that luxury. Around the world there are many girls developing at a rapid rate, but we are only just beginning to see what the female body is capable of in this art. Some people are short, some people are fast, some people are girls. We all must find our own way to interact with our environment in a way that our attributes allow best. That is part of the challenge!

If you have the desire to learn, and are prepared to work hard, then this discipline can be every bit as fulfilling and rewarding for a female. It is perhaps more important to seek experienced guidance to ensure you train in the correct way, but be smart and train in a sensible and focused manner, and though it may be slow, progress will definitely come! So to all you girls out there, I say, get outside, work hard, work smart, train safely and forget about what you CAN do, what anyone else can do, and just feel the flow. You might enjoy it, you might start to develop in ways you least expected, and maybe, just maybe, it might change your life.

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