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5 things you need to know about cliff diving

  • Jul 31, 2015

For thrill seekers, sometimes scaling up a cliff and watching the readings on your watch altimeter change isn't enough. They need to take a leap from the summit after the climb, too. For a knowledgeable expert, there isn't much danger in cliff diving. For a beginner, it's absolutely critical to practice a great deal of caution.

Jumping off a cliff into a body of water may seem simple on the surface, but there are more than a handful of dangers the ordinary adventurer may not be aware of. Here's what you should know before you even consider taking the plunge.

1. Speed is a big danger
It's easy to see why falling from higher distances can pose such danger. You'll quickly build speed as you fall through the air, and the force of your impact grows with every inch. Some people don't realize exactly how much speed a cliff diver may gain during a drop. That's why the Livestrong team provided a quick breakdown based on heights. A diver jumping from just 20 feet above the surface of the water can hit the waves at a speed of 25 miles per hour. From 60 feet, you may hit the surface going 60 mph. That's enough force to break ribs, fracture bones and cause bruises or a concussion.

2. Positioning is critical
That's why the way in which you hit the water is of utmost importance. Hitting the surface the wrong way will almost certainly cause injury at a certain height. You might like how professional divers do flips and twists, but these maneuvers are not recommended for novices. There's no telling how you'll hit the water if you don't have experience going through the motions. That's why most beginner divers start on spring boards between 3 and 9 feet above the water, according to Discovery News.

3. Start with the pencil dive
That's why amateurs are encouraged to do the pencil dive. The trick is to keep your body vertical and perpendicular to the surface of the water. Point your toes down and keep your arms firmly at your sides. This positioning is supposed to minimize the surface area that hits the water and provide the most protection for the diver. You're less likely to break a bone or bruise this way.

4. Look before you leap
Think of a cliff's edge like a city street. You wouldn't run into the street without looking, would you? In the same way, you have to spot what areas you're aiming for and how to get to that point leading up to the jump. Getting a running start may seem fun and exciting, but it's a surefire way to lose control of where you're going and hit something you don't intend to. There is the danger of hitting the side of the cliff, and you will want to launch a fair distance for safety, but it's always a good idea to keep an eye on where you're going leading all the way up to the jump.

5. Wet suits are encouraged
Those Olympic divers and accomplished professionals are used to the feeling of hitting the water at over 40 mph. You, on the other hand, may not be. You'll find that many cliff diving spots that welcome tourists offer wet suits. Take them up on the offer if you worry about bruising or the like. 

At the same time, though, water shoes aren't recommended. According to Discovery News, shoes will increase the surface area you hit the water with and can increase the force of the impact. That can cause injury if you're not careful. The pros suggest going barefoot instead.

When planning on jumping off a cliff make sure you try to be as safe as possible. Check your PRG300-7 to see how high you climbed then take off all your accessories and shoes to avoid injury. Now get ready for a big adrenaline rush!