Training aerial is a potentially dangerous sport – yeah ok I know Skylab ceilings are not that high, so hurtling towards the floor at breakneck speed whilst doing a complicated series of drops is not that possible. But I can assure you coming out of a move even two metres from the floor is going to hurt pretty badly. Falling out of any move the wrong way means you can possibly injure a muscle and the same goes with landing badly, so please give aerial it’s due respect. Follow the guidelines below for safe practice and everything will be ay ok!

Ten Important Aerial Safety Rules

1. Always use a crash mat and keep it under the equipment: Yep you’re going to want a soft landing should you come out of a move. Crash mats are there for good reason – to make you feel safe and to soften your landings so make sure they are directly underneath you and not sliding away off to one side! One of the most common dangers when you are a beginner is coming out of moves without control (a straddle invert for example) and smacking your feet down (due to not having enough core muscle strength to hold your body weight). Nothing wrong with doing this and I can guarantee this will happen, but if the crash mat is not under you and your feet smack the floor, this is going to hurt! So please make sure you watch out for that.

2. Keep your head in the game: Again sounds obvious when you mention it but so so so important. If you are not fully focussed and paying attention to what you are doing this is going to have serious consequences! Please park your worries at the door. Do not be answering your phone whilst trying to spot someone. Do not be watching other people in the room while you are attempting do a move. Do not be thinking about what you are going to have for dinner later. Aerial and multi tasking do not mix! This is one of the reasons why aerial is so good – it helps you to focus your mind. So remember it’s 100% attention on the move or don’t do the move at all. This goes for spotting as well. Most mistakes happen when we’re not focused on what we’re doing and mistakes can lead to falls, bad landings and potential injuries.

3. Never work into pain: Aerial is an extreme sport – not only are we lifting our whole body weight into the air but we are also asking the body to turn, twist, bend and wrap into all sorts of crazy shapes and positions. If you have not done this before this is a lot to ask of your body. If you start to experience pain, twinges or uncomfortable sensations in any way, this may be your body’s way of letting you know that it can’t handle what you are asking it to do. Listen to these signals and back off, give your body a break and come back to it when you are ready. Check my blog here for the types of signs to look for.

4. Always work with a spotter when learning a new move: There are four reasons for this as follows:

  • safety and rescue – to help your flyer land safely from an unexpected fall
  • guidance – to guide your flyer spatially and kinaesthetically (boost them up etc)
  • reassurance – to help your flyer feel confident in the skill (it’s scary up there!)
  • teaching tips – remind them of the teaching tips, tell them if they are doing things wrong

Sound spotting techniques are vital to safe aerial practice for more info on spotting see my blog here. Also as an add on to this – never train on your own, always have at least one person with you in the room, just in case anything should happen. If you do have to train on your own make sure you only do your safest tricks that you know you are 100% not going to land wrong.

5. Always warm your body up before doing aerial: It’s super important to get your body physically and mentally prepared before you start – not only so you have a better training session but also to help prevent injuries. (For more info read my blog here on why you should always do a warm up).

6. Always cool down after an aerial session: You’ve just put your body through a supremely intense workout – it needs to recover and cool down before you head straight back out into to the real world. So make sure you always do some slow static stretching so your muscles can recover and let all that adrenaline release (For more info on why you need to cool down read this blog here).

7. If you’re injured do aerial with extreme caution or not at all: I would like to think this is stating the obvious but you’d be surprised how many students I see wanting to keep training at full pelt through an injury as if nothing has happened. Please listen to your body and be kind to your body – it’s the only one you have! If you train on an injury it’s very likely that you will aggravate it (or worst case cause serious damage). An injury means your body has a weakness – aerial is intense and your body needs to be in peak condition in order to train well. I know only too well how frustrating injuries can be but please back off, rest up, do yourself a favour and nurse that injury rather than push it.

8. Never do aerial if you are feeling unwell: As I mentioned above aerial is intense and you need to be in peak condition to train well. Ok there may be times when you are feeling a bit under the weather, tired or stressed and it’s ok to train during these times but train with awareness of these factors and don’t push yourself so hard. If you are feeling unwell such as you may be coming down with something, feel dizzy, nauseous, head achey etc then please again listen to these signals and take rest. It’s your body telling you it’s not ok. I know it’s frustrating to have to miss aerial class (and it’s for this reason I allow one free drop-in during a four week course in case there are times you feel sick etc) but it’s much, much better to miss a class and let your body recover than to take class and make the sickness worse or worse still get injured.

9. Never do aerial class if you have been drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs of any sort: Kind of common sense really but I thought I would give it a mention anyway… so no thinking you can get away with having the odd glass or two at a work do in the afternoon and then sidle into class and get away with it. Alcohol (and drugs) lower your inhibitions which means you will find yourself able to try more scary, daring things. Only trouble is your judgement also lowers which is a total recipe for disaster when it comes to aerial and always bound to end in tears. Alcohol and aerial bad mix!

10. Never slide on the silk: Yep that’s why we keep our skin covered when doing silks. For those who have ever experienced a rope burn or friction burn as we call them – it’s just not pleasant. Doesn’t hurt that much at the time – but boy you will know about it later in the shower as it will sting like crazy and probably take a good few days to heal up. It’s also why we never slide down the silk as if it was a fireman’s pole – oucheee!!! It’s always hand over hand.

Sweet, so quick memory test… what’s the mantra here??? Yep you got it… ‘safety first and safety at all times‘. Remember to always, always, always work safely in the air. Our bodies are the only ones we have and even if we want to push our limits and try out crazy, scary moves we must still remember to follow the safety guidelines so that we can make doing all this crazy, scary stuff as safe as we possibly can.

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