Preventing injuries associated with military static-line parachuting landings

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Steele, JR, Mickle, KJ & Whitting, JW 2016, 'Preventing injuries associated with military static-line parachuting landings', in A Gefen & Y Epstein (eds), Mechanobiology and mechanophysiology of military-related injuries, Studies in mechanobiology, Tissue engineering and biomaterials series no. 19, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp. 37-68.

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Military static-line parachuting is a highly tactical and hazardous activity, with a well-documented injury risk. Due to the high impact forces and rapid rate of loading when a parachutist lands, injuries most frequently occur to the lower limbs and the trunk/spine, with ankle injuries accounting for between 30 and 60 % of all parachuting injuries. Although military static-line parachuting injuries can be sustained at any time between the paratrooper attempting to leave the aircraft until they have landed and removed their harness, most injuries occur on landing. Throughout the world, various landing techniques are taught to paratroopers to reduce the risk of injury, by enabling parachute landing forces to be more evenly distributed over the body. In this chapter, we review research associated with static-line military parachuting injuries, focusing on injuries that occur during high-impact landings. We summarize literature pertaining to strategies for military paratroopers to land safely upon ground contact, especially when performing the parachute fall landing technique. Recommendations for future research in this field are provided, particularly in relation to the parachute fall landing technique and training methods. Ultimately, any changes to current practice in landing technique, how it is taught, and whether protective equipment is introduced, should be monitored in well controlled, prospective studies, with the statistical design accounting for the interaction between the variables, to determine the effect of these factors on injury rates and paratrooper performance. This will ensure that evidence-based guidelines can be developed, particularly in relation to landing technique and how this is trained, in order to minimize injuries associated with landings during military static-line parachuting in subsequent training and tactical operations.