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What Is Extreme Free Running?

By Britt Archer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Running for hours on a treadmill is tedious and can become boring. The scenery never changes and there are only so many ways to challenge a body and build stamina. For those bored with their everyday jogging routines, free running is a viable alternative. Extreme free running participants incorporate dance-inspired movements, acrobatics and street stunts in their runs to create a challenging and visually pleasing route.

Extreme free running evolved from the sport of parkour, which involves running an impromptu course littered with obstacles where participants find creative ways to overtake those obstacles. Each movement in parkour has a purpose and efficiency for the purpose of navigating the environment. Free runners are not constrained by need or necessity and movements don't have to have a purpose. Both activities fall under the general category of urban acrobatics, though neither need be performed in an urban environment.

Extreme free running is not a competitive sport by nature, though competitions are held around the world. The basic principle guiding free runners is self-improvement. Free runners don't learn new movements simply to have the best tricks; movements are learned for a sense of self-gratification. Likewise, free runners don't perform tricks simply to show off, but rather as a means of expression.

There is no standard environment or course for free running. Instead, runners learn basic techniques that are then adapted to different situations and obstacles. The most popular way of learning the basics of extreme free running is via personal engagement either with a trainer or another participant. Online tutorials, videos, books and other materials are also available to show aspiring free runners basic tricking techniques.

Participants in extreme free running and parkour don't need fancy equipment or training. A good pair of sneakers or athletic shoes is all that's required for basic free running techniques. Safety equipment such as elbow pads, knee pads and helmets are recommended for beginners and those learning new tricks. Free runners should be comfortable with falling on a variety of surfaces and must learn how to land correctly and protect their body from injury.

Potential free runners should speak with a doctor or other licensed health care professional before entering into the world of parkour or free running. Free running is physically demanding and new participants may need to modify their routine until they build up stamina or strength. It is possible to incorporate a wide variety of movements suitable for any body type and fitness level, or to accommodate an injury or disability.

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