How Does Bungee Jumping Work?

how a bungee jump works

When you bungee jump you not only put your life in the hands of the operators and equipment, but also the laws of physics. If you’re about to embark on your first bungee jump it’s only natural that you want to know how it all works.

It’s one of the most un-natural things you could ever wish to do. After all, you wouldn’t jump off a crane or bridge normally and your body and mind will do everything it can to dissuade you from doing it.

Handy Hint: If you are struggling with mentally preparing yourself for a bungee jump, read this guide for beginners with fear and anxiety.

In this guide I am not going to get into too much scientific detail on the physics of bungee jumping, but instead try to explain how it works in an easy to understand overview. I hope it will help you feel more comfortable about jumping for the first time. Here’s an infographic from the How It Works magazine if you want a quick visual explanation of how a bungee jump works.

how does bungee jumping work

Image copyright of howitworksdaily.com.

How bungee jumping works

There are four main components you need to worry about; your weight, the cord, the harness, and then the jump itself. Here’s how they all combine to let you bungee jump safely.

1. Your weight

You will be weighed by the bungee operator, sometimes even twice. The reason for doing so is to let them calculate how much bungee cord they will need and double check you’re good to go.

Bungee cords are tested daily to a maximum weight limit. Because of that, it’s unlikely they will swap out a cord for you, as most people will jump from the same cord.

Handy Hint: I published a study to find out what the minimum and maximum weight limits are at the world’s most popular bungee jumping locations. You can read that in my guide to weight restrictions.

2. Bungee cord

Bungee cords are made from military grade rubber and fabrics. You can read more about how they are made further down the page, but simplistically it’s an elasticated cord.

It is tested to make sure that it cannot reach the floor when fully stretched at the maximum weight allowable.

The bungee cord will be securely attached to the jump platform using specialist equipment very similar to what’s used in the mountaineering world.

3. Harness

The bungee cord will then be connected to you using harnesses. Most commercial operators will use two harnesses; one attached to the ankle, and one to the body.

This means you have the security of having a back-up harness.

preparing for a bungee jump

Breath calmly, don’t look down, and fix your eyes on something other than the drop.

You now in the pre-jump phase and ready to go. At this point you have high gravitational potential energy… in other words, you will fall like a stone once you step off!

4. The jump

The operators will then connect your harnesses to the bungee cord. They will usually perform some final checks to ensure that the cord is the correct length based on your weight. Checks will also be made of the ankle and body harnesses.

As you step off the jump platform, you enter free fall. You will accelerate towards the ground at 9.8m/s2, with the velocity building…

Once the bungee cord is fully stretched you will start to slow due to the tension and will then start to recoil back up. You will bounce on the cord until all the tension has gone and the air resistance has brought you to a stop.

How does a bungee cord work?

As you jump from the platform you will be in immediate free-fall as gravity takes over. Your body will accelerate towards the ground. The rate of acceleration is 9.8m/s2. In simple terms that could mean you are falling at 43 mile per hour (70 km/h)!

Once the bungee cord has dropped to its un-stretched length, it will then start to stretch. It’s not just the gravity that makes the bungee cord stretch, but also the tension in the cord too.

Tension in the bungee cord create an upwards force which will then reverse the direction of the stretch… meaning you will start to recoil back up. During this retraction, the acceleration is starting slow as the tension in the cord reduces.

The tension in the cord will get less and less meaning you will bounce for a few times. The air resistance plays a huge part here, as without it you would actually bounce forever!

The air slows you down each time you bounce, until you come to a stop and the experience is over.

Handy Hint: Want to know what bungee jumping feels like? Click here for my own personal bungee jumping experience, plus stories from other jumpers.

​What are bungee cords made of?

Commercial bungee cords are manufactured from strands of synthetic elasticated rubber. Most bungee cords can have almost 400 strands of rubber inside, all compacted together.

These strands are wound together and then have an external cotton outer core and polyester cover binding wrapped around them.

It’s actually the same cord that’s used in the military testing of rockets, so that should make it quite reliable!

Do they test bungee jump cords?

In the UK they do due to strict health and safety guidelines (you can read them here if interested). Each bungee cord will be checked daily by the operators. This is a manual process where they run the cords through their hands to check for any faults or imperfections.

Bungee cords are then de-commissioned after around one thousand bounces.

The operators will then test the bungee cord from the platform itself by placing heavy gym weights into a bag to mimic the 130 kg weight of a person. The bag will be dropped from a height of 55 meters.

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Bungee cords can stretch over 3 times their own size!

Once the test has been completed with weights, a member of the team will then test it. They will jump and fall at 70 kilometres per hour!

You can see the test in this video from National Geographic.

How do you get back up after a jump?

This depends on the type of bungee jump. Some will lower you down to the ground, others will use pulleys to pull you back up to the platform. You can read more about the getting up or down in this article.

Has anyone died bungee jumping?

There are many instances of fatalities, but not as many as you might think. I published a study into bungee jumping deaths which shows how many have been recorded each year according to what I could find in the media.

The physics of bungee jumping

Obviously, there is so much more to the actual physics involved in a bungee jump. I am not a scientist, so can’t give you a physics lesson on all the factors at play.

However, I did find a website which explains all the forces at work and even includes some equations and formulas. If you are of a scientific mind, check out the Real World Physics website to see the complex explanation of how bungee jumping works.

Conclusion

And that’s the simple explanation for how bungee jumping works. Do you think you’ve got what it takes to take the plunge?

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How to Bungee Jump

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 29 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 130,911 times.

Ever hear people say, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” Well if you would like to answer yes to that question, then bungee jumping is the answer! Bungee jumping can be an incredible experience and it is important to prepare yourself.

Finding the Location

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 1

  • Many harnesses are attached to your ankles and can exacerbate any ankle or knee problems you may be experiencing.
  • Neck and back injuries can make it difficult to bungee jump because of the pressure being put on them during your jump. Speak to your doctor.

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 2

Make sure you are old enough. Some outfitters will allow jumpers as young as 14, others only allow those 16 years old and above. In many cases, if you are under 18 then your parent or guardian will have to accompany you to sign any waivers the outfitter provides. [2] X Research source

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  • You can jump from bridges, cranes, platforms on buildings, towers, hot air balloons, helicopters or cable cars. Choose whichever location appeals most to you. [4] X Research source

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  • The BERSA (British Elastic Rope Sports Association) Code of Safe Practice is a safety guideline for operators. [6] X Research source It covers three important topics: informed participation (meaning you must understand the risks involved), redundancy (meaning there are back-up systems in place so that if one component fails the whole system will not fail) and competence (meaning that all equipment and personnel must be of sufficient quality to competently perform their function). This code allows you to ensure that your operator is safe. [7] X Research source

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This also helps you check up on the outfitter and ensure they know what they are doing. You can ask about their equipment, staff training, operating standards, history and so on. This helps you determine how knowledgeable, friendly and safe they are as an outfitter.

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Look into costs. Look into costs in advance as well- expect to pay up to $100 or more. Many outfitters will charge a deposit when you book which could be around $50 or half of the total cost.

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Book your jump. You might want to book in advance to ensure that when you arrive you are able to jump. Some outfitters require advance booking because you have to take transportation to the location of the jump.

Preparing Yourself

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  • Just because you are afraid of heights does not mean you won’t jump. Bungee jumping is a very different experience and you may not feel the same while jumping- especially because of the adrenaline rush!

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Dress correctly. Wear comfortable clothes and tuck your shirt in so that it does not fly up when you decelerate, showing everyone your stomach. Similarly do not wear a skirt. Your clothes should not be restrictive or too loose. Shoes should be flat-soled and attach securely to your feet. Do not wear boots or shoes that come up high on your ankles or else they can interfere with connecting the ankle harnesses. [9] X Research source

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 10

Tie up your hair. If you have long hair you must tie it up so that it does not get stuck in any of the components or hit you in the face while you are jumping.

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 11

  • A body harness will allow you to move around more easily and complete spins or flips more easily. If you are connected via a body harness you should have at least a sit harness and shoulder harness, or a full body harness. [4] X Research source

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 12

  • Other types of dives include the back dive, railing jump (similar to swallow except you are jumping off a railing on some bridges), bat drop (where you are hanging upside down on the edge of the platform before jumping and then simply drop), elevator (drop feet first but can be very dangerous and break your ankles) and tandem (jumping with two people at one time). [4] X Research source
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Image titled Bungee Jump Step 13

Watch others jumping. Take some time to relax and watch other people jump before starting your experience. This can help you ease your mind and nerves.

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 14

Shave your legs. If you are using a leg harness, then they will have to lift your pants to strap it on. If the sight of your unshaven legs embarrasses you, be sure to shave prior to jumping.

Jumping Off

Image titled Bungee Jump Step 15

Sign in with your outfitter. You will pay the balance for your jump if you have not already and sign a few forms and waivers. Although bungee jumping is very safe, they will want to make sure you understand the potential risks. If you have any questions about the waiver, do not hesitate to ask a crew member.

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Be prepared to be weighed. They will weigh you to make sure they are using the correct equipment for you body weight and to make sure you are not over the weight limit of the outfitter.

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Go to the top of the bungee bridge. When you get to the top of the bungee, there will be instructors up there who will prep you. If you can make it to the top, then you should be fine because this is one of the scariest parts!

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Listen to your instructors. Listen to what they have to say, as it will make your jump more enjoyable. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions- that’s what they are there for. The instructors will put padding around your ankles and then attach big elastic bands around them, which will in turn be attached to the actual bungee cord!

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  • Don’t look down before jumping! You will have plenty of time to admire the scenery while jumping. Looking down before you jump might make you change your mind.

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  • After the jump, a guy in a boat might come and unhook you from the cords or they will lift you back up to the bridge or wherever you jumped from.

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Community Q&A

I would recommend speaking with your doctor before going bungee jumping to ensure it won’t further damage your back.

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You should talk to your doctor to determine if bungee jumping will be harmful with your heart condition.

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No, rubber bands are not meant to hold the weight of a human. You need something that is safer and stronger.

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful.
Thank you for your feedback.
As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a $30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy!

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  1. ↑https://www.acsh.org/news/2016/08/19/bungee-jumping-and-the-art-of-risk-assessment
  2. ↑http://www.ukbungee.co.uk/faqs/3/health-age-restrictions
  3. ↑https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-15-best-bungee-jumping-sites/index.html
  4. ↑ 4.04.14.2http://www.bungeezone.com/types/
  5. ↑http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/23/travel/adventure-travel/
  6. ↑http://www.bungeezone.com/orgs/bersa.shtml
  7. ↑http://www.ukbungee.co.uk/content/14/safety-information
  8. ↑https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccanewton/2016/06/28/six-ways-to-overcome-your-nervousness-gremlin/
  9. ↑https://www.traveldudes.org/travel-tips/10-practical-tips-first-time-bungee-jumpers/139688
  1. ↑http://www.bungeezone.com/equip/harness.shtml
  2. ↑ www.bungeezone.com/types/
  3. ↑https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smashing-the-brainblocks/201511/7-things-you-need-know-about-fear

About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 29 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 130,911 times.

Before you bungee jump, make sure to put on correct clothes, like flat shoes attached securely to your feet and t-shirts and pants that don’t restrict your movement. If you’re feeling nervous beforehand, take some time to watch others jump so you can see how it’s done. When you’re ready to jump, fill in the forms provided by the operator and get weighed to determine what equipment you need. Then, go up to the top of the bungee bridge and follow the instructions given by the staff. Finally, jump when a staff member yells “Go!”. For tips on whether to jump backwards or forwards, and how to check the bungee outfitters’ safety record, read on!

How Dangerous is Bungee Jumping?

how dangerous is bungee jumping

Any adrenaline-seeker wants to try bungee jumping, just one of several thrilling extreme sports. Bungee jumping may be for you if you appreciate taking significant risks. However, you have to wonder: just how dangerous is bungee jumping?

What is Bungee Jumping?

When bungee jumping, the ankles are secured to a thick, elastic cord, allowing the jumper to land on their feet first. Bungee jumpers often launch themselves from tall structures like skyscrapers, bridges, or cranes. However, it has also been accomplished by moving objects.

As the jumper falls freely from a height, the cord extends, and as the line bounces back, the momentum lifts the jumper upwards. The elastic cord keeps moving up and down in a trampoline-like pattern until it runs out of juice.

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The majority of bungee operations around the world are managed by skilled and knowledgeable professionals who use the best and most reliable equipment. They also abide by strict safety regulations. Although falling from such heights can seem alarming, bungee jumping is a risk-free hobby with a stellar safety record.

Bungee Jumping Equipment

Bungee jumping involves an elastic rope called a braided shock cable attached to the jumper’s ankle. The majority of bungee cables are made of natural rubber, which is used because of its inherent elasticity. For bungee jumping, a body and leg harnesses are connected to the line (back-up for the ankle attachment, for safety purposes).

The Risks of Bungee Jumping

You might still not be convinced that bungee jumping is safe. Here are the risks you should be aware of when considering how dangerous is bungee jumping.

Eye Injuries

Bungee jumping frequently leads to eye injuries because of the sharply increased pressure in the eyes. The sudden upward jerk of the elastic chord causes fluid to rush to your brain, increasing the blood pressure inside the blood vessels in your eyes.

This pressure increase can destroy your retina, the layer of cells at the back of your eye that directly communicates with your brain, as well as your conjunctiva, the thin mucous membrane covering your eyes. Usually, injuries to these areas of your eyes cause a temporary loss of vision. Spots, eye infections, and hemorrhages are all possible.

Spine Injuries

Your spine’s vertebrae and the delicate spinal cord they are supposed to protect could be harmed by the intense pressures your body encounters when the bungee cord pulls it back up. The most frequent injuries are compression fractures, broken bones in the spine, herniated discs, and spaces between the vertebrae.

Although these wounds are treatable, they can become too severe and irreparable. If the spinal cord within the vertebrae is damaged, quadriplegia, or the inability to move your arms and legs, may result.

Neck Injuries

Your neck is at risk when you bungee jump, and injuries can range from minor to severe. The final part of the jump can cause enough force to press against your neck muscles, cause pain, and briefly limit your range of motion by applying pressure to the delicate area of your body that connects your brain and spinal cord.

Additionally, a jumper’s neck has on occasion mistakenly become wrapped up in the bungee cord. When this happens, it can choke the jumper and restrict the blood flow to their brain, making breathing difficult or impossible. In these circumstances, the jumper must be saved as soon as possible to prevent death.

Death

Unfortunately, deaths from bungee jumping can occur infrequently. If a jumper’s neck gets twisted in the cord for even a short period, his injury will be deadly. He is unable to get enough oxygen to his brain. Another frequent reason for fatal bungee jumping injuries is a too-long cable.

Because they neglected to consider the cord’s elasticity, individuals tumble and hit their skulls on the ground, dying from the impact. Even seasoned bungee jumpers can make these mistakes and endanger their lives. The day prior to the Super Bowl in 1997, a professional bungee jumper practicing for the halftime show at the Superdome banged her head on the cement floor during a jump and died due to head trauma.

Health Risks

Given that bungee jumping is a relatively new sport, it is difficult to establish whether there are any long-term health risks. According to doctors who have studied bungee jumpers, the hazards are minimal in the short term.

The most common complaint among jumpers in the moments after their jump is dizziness. This annoyance usually goes away before the day is over. A tiny percentage of participants said they experienced back or ankle musculoskeletal pain a few days after their jump. However, this pain usually went away soon.

How to Make Bungee Jumping Safe?

what is bungee jumping

For a leap to be deemed safe, the bungee cord needs to be tied off in a secure location that won’t be affected by the additional weight. Steel railings or safety fences frequently provide great anchor points. Professionals will also ensure that the bungee rope is tied with weight-bearing knots to hold even while the jumpers are being pushed downward by gravity.

Some companies may place airbags, webbing, or slings directly below the jump space to guarantee jumpers’ safety. Locations with webbing and airbags might make the first jump for beginners safer.

Optimal Weather

Since the equipment might not operate properly in the rain, snow, or other unideal weather conditions, certain businesses may need to postpone jumps. Additionally, locations with low vision and unstable wind conditions are more likely to result in injuries.
A jump aspect that increases risk should be avoided. Work with experts and take all the safety measures you can.

Ideal Clothing

Although there isn’t a set dress code for this sport, some attire helps maintain safety. Avoid wearing too loose clothing since it can restrict the bungee cord. Remove any jewelry or anything that could be dangerous if they fell off or came loose before jumping. Among them are spectacles, contact lenses, and jewelry.

Training

Whether you are a novice, a lightly experienced, or a professional bungee jumper, there are three-part programs that teach skills like the inspection, testing, and maintenance of bungee equipment and how to use them. An apprenticeship period, bungee training, and rescue training make up the teachings.

Minimum Requirements

The minimal requirements for each bungee operation would vary based on the height and complexity of the jump. The minimum age is usually 12 to 14 years old, and the maximum weight is typically 110 kg, provided that you are in decent physical and mental shape. 35 kg is the required minimum weight.

Medical Conditions

Women who are pregnant, those with high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, illnesses of the legs, back, respiratory system, or circulatory system, as well as those who have just had surgery, are advised against bungee jumping and should instead consult their doctors beforehand.

Last Word

How dangerous is bungee jumping? Bungee jumping comes with risks, but so do all extreme sports. But as long as you prioritize safety and minimize risks, the activity can be safe and fun for you.

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