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What Makes Parkour Unique? A Narrative Review Across Miscellaneous Academic Fields

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Abstract

Parkour is a growing sport that mostly involves jumping, vaulting over obstacles, and climbing in a non-dedicated setting. The authors gathered all known relevant literature across miscellaneous academic fields in order to define parkour with regard to other sports disciplines. Parkour is a lifestyle sport, and as such provides an alternative to mainstream sports, away from strict rules, standardized settings, and necessary competitions. Traceurs (parkour adepts) consider the city as a playground and as an outlet for their creativity, but they also have a strong taste for hard and individualized challenges. They usually train on non-specific structures, at ground level. Although their social background is not clear, they are mostly young and male. Traceurs are stronger than recreational athletes, especially in eccentric exercises. However, their endurance skills may be below average. One of the core specificities of parkour is its precision constraint at landing, which turns a standing long jump into a precision jump, regulated in flight so as to prepare for landing. The running precision jump follows the same landing pattern, and its flight phase contrasts with long jump techniques. Injuries, which are not more frequent than in other sports, often occur at landing and to lower limb extremities. This risk is mitigated by targeting the landing area with the forefoot instead of letting the heel hit the ground like in gymnastics, or with rolling in order to dissipate the impact. Overall, parkour focuses on adaptability to new environments, which leads to specific techniques that have not yet been extensively addressed by the literature.

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Correspondence to David Pagnon.

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David Pagnon, Germain Faity, Galo Maldonado, Yann Daout, and Sidney Grosprêtre declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

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DP and YD wrote the “Social Science” section. SG, GF, DP, and GM wrote the “Health Science” section. DP designed the stick figures. All authors revised and approved the final manuscript.

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Pagnon, D., Faity, G., Maldonado, G. et al. What Makes Parkour Unique? A Narrative Review Across Miscellaneous Academic Fields. Sports Med 52, 1029–1042 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-022-01642-x

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