Parkour is an area rife with research opportunities.
There are community members and academics around the country who have explored parkour as part of their degree or postgraduate studies. We have partnered with tertiary institutions and also conducted our own independent research.
Here we provide you with quick access to the varying parkour research projects (published and unpublished) that have been conducted in NZ.
1. Making the Jump: Examining the development of parkour in New Zealand (Damien Puddle, 2016-)
Brief: In 2016 Damien started his PhD thesis on parkour in New Zealand. He is expected to submit at the beginning of 2019.
1. Do parkour landing cues affect the kinematics and kinetics of landings in non-parkour practitioners? (Joel Impey, 2013) – (link forthcoming)
Brief: In 2016 we began a new study with the Wintec Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance where we explore the effects of parkour coaching cues on the landing techniques and forces of recreational athletes who have not trained parkour.
Importance: We now know that parkour practitioners land more safely than recreational athletes when both perform their preferred landing strategies, but can the cues used in parkour coaching and training have an immediate benefit on the landing data of these non-parkour participants? If it does, parkour landing practices may be of benefit to athletes in other landing sports (basketball, volleyball, netball, etc.), for recreational athletes and the public in everyday life.
2. Parkour/Freerunning as a Pathway to Prosocial Change: A Theoretical Analysis (Johanna Herrmann, 2016) – download full Masters thesis
Brief: What is parkour/freerunning, and how can the practice support prosocial change? In order to determine the impact of practicing parkour/freerunning on the individual, a historical analysis looked at values, goals, assumptions, and skills underlying the practice. A comparison of the two major frameworks currently used in offender rehabilitation was conducted to examine its value for prosocial development.
Importance: Practitioners have started using parkour/freerunning for programmes targeting youth at risk as well as positive youth development. Yet, this idea is insufficiently grounded in theory and research. Moreover, the common misrepresentation of parkour/freerunning in the media as a daredevil sport has fuelled controversy and confusion about the practice.
Results: Parkour/freerunning has emerged as a highly versatile tool for self-development and change. The major overlaps of parkour/freerunning with both rehabilitation frameworks suggest that the practice can increase an individual’s capacity to live a healthy and prosocial life, reduce the risk of reoffending and offer a pathway to identity (trans-)formation.
3. A Comparison of the Habitual Landing Strategies from Differing Drop Heights of Parkour Practitioners (Traceurs) and Recreationally Trained Individuals (Regan Standing + Dr. Peter Maulder, 2015) – download full article
Brief: As our previous research highlighted, parkour practitioners should perform parkour landing techniques rather than traditional landing techniques, but what is the difference between the landing techniques of practitioners and non-practitioners? A sample of parkour practitioners performing their preferred landings were compared to a sample of recreational athletes involved in landing based sports performing their preferred landings. Sound was also measured to begin exploring its relationship with force.
Importance: If parkour practitioners do land more safely than non-practitioners, then parkour could be a very valuable training tool for athletes in landing sports and even for the general public. If higher sound is associated with higher force, it will support the coaching cues used in parkour and suggest that “quiet” = “safe”.
Results: The preferred landing techniques of parkour practitioners are safer than the preferred techniques of recreational athletes. Sound as a measure of landing effectiveness and safety holds potential significance; however requires further research to confirm.
Brief: Are parkour landings more valuable (i.e. safer) than traditional landing techniques for parkour practitioners? A sample of parkour practitioners used traditional and parkour (precision and roll) landing techniques from a fixed height to measure the differences in impact force, loading rate and time to peak force.
Importance: No study had previously investigated these parkour landing techniques and compared them with traditional landing techniques. If the techniques used by parkour practitioners are “worse” than traditional techniques, then changes should be made to parkour coaching systems. Alternatively, if traditional techniques are “worse” then parkour coaching systems should be solidified and coaching systems for other sporting codes should perhaps take on board these new landing techniques where possible.
Results: Both parkour landing techniques result in less impact force than the traditional technique (when performed by parkour practitioners).
5. NZ Injury Rates in Parkour (Parkour NZ, unpublished, 2013) – view the infographic.
Brief: In late 2013 we collected data from a public questionnaire asking questions from practitioners around the country to share the details, stories and information in regards to any and all injuries they have sustained while participating in parkour.
Importance: Many people perceive parkour as dangerous, yet our experiences seem to tell a different story.
Results: 44% of practitioners surveyed have never had an injury, 66% of those who had believed their injuries were avoidable and 37% of injuries occur in the first year of training and rapidly decline as training experience increases. The most common injuries are sprains, the most common injured site is the ankle, most injuries seem to occur during or because of jumping and overtraining was the most common reason associated with why the injury occurred.
6. Ground reaction forces and loading rates associated with parkour drop-landing techniques from varying heights (Damien Puddle, unpublished, 2011) – download unpublished manuscript
Brief: A follow-up study (from the study above) investigating the same landing techniques but from varying heights that are more applicable to parkour training.
Importance: Parkour practitioners use precision and roll landings in different contexts, usually when height is a factor. Jumping and landing from heights that are higher than what the average person is likely jump and land is common in parkour, making it important to investigate what happens at these higher heights and whether one technique is more valuable than the other as height increases.
Results: The data showed that parkour landings are still valuable for reducing impact forces on the body compared with data from other landing studies, but the difference between the two techniques was inconclusive. Testing protocols may have limited the study in this regard.
7. Motivation in Parkour: A Self-Determination Theory Approach (Barnaby Matthews, unpublished, 2010) – download unpublished manuscript
Brief: How do parkour practitioners perceive their own motivation in an activity that is devoid of trophies, prizes and awards (external motivation factors)? In order to investigate why people train parkour, over 100 parkour practitioners (with more than 2 years experience each) were recruited to answer an adapted Sports Motivation Scale (an accepted standard for sports motivation questionnaires).
Importance: Traditional sport is built around competition and thus external motivation factors are highly present. However, long term commitment to physical activity has been linked to high levels of self-determination (e.g. intrinsic motivation – doing things for the sheer joy of it) while athlete burnout (common in elite sport) is associated with low levels of self-determination). The philosophies embedded in parkour practice may be valuable for long term participation.
Results: Parkour is trained primarily due to intrinsic motivational factors. The potential exists for parkour to be a viable physical activity for persons unmotivated by extrinsic reward systems.