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Lawndarter

First Post For Me - Jumping After Ankle Fracture/ORIF

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So, this is kind of embarrassing, but important to me. I've searched through forums and read lots relevant but not totally sure I got everything.

I got hooked this summer after my first tandem and decided to do an AFF course. Ground school felt a bit rushed, but I'd watched lots of videos, read the CSPA PIM and checked out and go through USPA's Skydive School stuff online so I was pretty confident.

First time out I landed off DZ, PLF'd and though it sucked I was fine. I flared too high. A bit bruised but no worries.

Second jump, everything went well at first. Stable exit, good deployment (oh yeah, first exit I had a line twist to remedy!), and coming in, I again flared too high, and while I was set to PLF, something went wrong and I felt something crack, my right heel struck the ground first (when on a proper PLF it shouldn't ever. Then, stupidly, after having it looked at by some first aiders who were set to carry me into the hangar, I put my foot down. If my distal fibula wasn't already broken, that did it.

So, I've had an ORIF surgery (open reduction/internal fixation, and I have a plate and 7 screws in my right ankle on the outside. It's healing nicely and with physio I'm expected to recover fully.

I want to finish AFF, and jump again.

So there's a couple problems.

First: how to I figure out how better to read the ground to flare?
Second: how best to protect my ankle because I know I'm going to be hesitant. I'm planning to wear a pretty solid sports brace for it - and I think change my footwear from the hiking boots (though without a super aggressive sole) to skateboarding shoes.

My thoughts, which may be nuts: I think I want to go for another tandem and review landing while I have an instructor actually strapped to me - I know tandem landings are different - but people do use slide landings too, do they not? It may look goofy but maybe that's what I should do? I guess what I'm missing is how to really apply flaring properly.

I'm about 210lbs (so what, maybe 225 out the door?) and jumped a Silhouette 230 if that matters.

Any experienced advice graceously accepted.

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If you're 210 lbs nacked you're well above 240 out the door. For sturdy people like you they built 300 sq ft Navigators.
I'd definitelly ask for a bigger canopy. I'm actually surprised they let you jump a 230 at your exit weight.
I started at a 260 and was probably close to 200 out the door. If your DZ doesn't have those sizes search for another one.

Practice your PLFs. They can be done safely and repeatedly from heighs above 3 meters without a parachute above your head to slow you down.
For a tandem-like slide in landing you'd need a bit of forward momentum and a perfectly judged flare. Otherwise you're risking injuring your spine. So better get that out of your head, it's not going to help you now.

Talk to your instructors about flare techniques to cope with a misjudged (too high) flare. Sadly landing can only be practised while landing. Having a good theoretical skillset will help you to get over the hill faster, though.

I'm really no sure if another tandem will help you but as I've never done a tandem myself I don't have any experience regarding this.

I wish you a speedy recovery! :)
-------------------------------------------------------

To absent friends

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The Silhouette 230 is way too small for someone your weight who has not yet figured out flare height. It can take people up to 10 or so jumps to sort this out, and even then they will still make occasional errors.

If the DZ you are jumping at can not find you a canopy at least 290 sq. ft. find a different DZ. You make no mention of radio control. You should have some, and the instructor should be able to help you by calling your flare until you begin to get it. However, landing out can always happen and in this circumstance you need to do it yourself.

I'm serious about the canopy size. New jumpers tend to flare late, or early, and either way they need something large enough to be much more forgiving than that 230 is for you. You should not be embarrassed, the dz should be embarrassed.
Always remember the brave children who died defending your right to bear arms. Freedom is not free.

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Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

I think it was actually a 260, I'll have to look at what I wrote in my logbook. I feel like no one would have let me jump too small a canopy. Or at least I certainly hope not. Funny enough though I remember on my first AFF jump, when I pulled (just as my instructor was about to, I was too rigid and all over the place!) thinking as I did my canopy check that it seemed small! That was after resolving the line twist, which was a good first pull experience for confidence in learning what to do!

I'll double check that and see in the spring when I'm fit to go again. The DZ is going to honour what I paid for the course, so I'm happy with that.

As for radio, yes, didn't mention that. I had one. First jump I couldn't hear anything and went too far out of the pattern and landed a bit off the DZ, between the taxiway and runway. A little walk of shame.

The second, honestly, I don't remember. I know it was fine calling my turns in the pattern, and I think I remember that ib thought I heard them call for me to flare, and I did. And went to full flare probably way too fast as well. I think I realized it but didn't know what to do except try to PLF and not to come out of the flare. It was just how my feet hit the ground that screwed me.

Anyhow, for now I'm in week seven of recovering, starting physiotherapy next week and trying to be as positive as I can about it all. I want to go back and get it right and just need to learn as much as I can (reading and so on isn't s replacement for practical work obviously, but it helps me get a handle on it all so I can move to practical.)

I've got some good resources already sent by private message too, that's great. I realized the first time I visited a DZ what great people skydivers are, so no surprise there.

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When your ankle heals, can you get a little help with your PLF? There are lots of ways you can do this--on a trampoline, a wrestling mat, in a tumbling class. Falling and tumbling safely can save you broken bones or worse in the future.

I'm 29 jumps in and only have about 8 stand-up landings; the rest were PLFs, or less so, slides, and the worst I've gotten was a bruise. But I have a long history of martial arts, rolls, and safe falls, so a PLF came naturally to me. It doesn't take long to master, if you want to go to a MMA class or jiu-jitsu or tumbling class. This is, of course, AFTER your ankle has healed.

It's great that your school will honor your pricing program, although I assume you will have to go through some recurrency. It seems like you have a good rapport with the school, so if it's not too far away, you can always hang out while you're healing, learn how to pack, swap stories with old-timers, and learn the kind of info you'll need for your license exam. Sharing a beer with your instructors is a good way to get them to jump with you again. ;-)

Good luck and I wish you a speedy recovery, spring is a good time to start jumping again! :)
I'm not a lady, I'm a skydiver.

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Same deal, but I have 8 screws B|

PT and make your leg stronger than it was before. My only lingering problem is the ankle isn't as flexible as it use to be, but it doesn't really cause me any trouble (also I didn't jump for 6 months, I wanted to be able to run comfortably before I jumped again).

Learn to PLF really good, like running out of the bed of a truck or off a picnic table.

I don't get this boot/brace myth, people with ski boots just break their legs above the boot line and if your are snapping a 1" piece of protein and calcium use to being loaded with hundreds of pounds (close to 1000 when you run), a little leather or plastic isn't going to absorb that energy. Sprained ankles yes, broken bones, not a chance.

And always be ready to PLF no madder how good your landing looks. I broke mine over 300 jumps ago and I'm still ready to PLF on every one since.

As for canopy stuff, you should be on a 300. Get videos of your landings, jump often and multiple times a day. Get coaching when you can. It'll come, just takes time, and you should be on a ultra forgiving canopy through your A. 230 is a little aggressive and the silhouette flares like s**t (personal experience with a brand new one), big guys like you and me hit the ground a lot harder than the 150lb fellas at the same wing loading. You are probably 250 out the door, just btw.

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Good stuff here.
Discuss exit weight and appropriate canopy size with your instructors and get coaching on your PLF.
First, get the ok from your doctor to jump out of the back of a truck on your ankle before you start practicing, then practice practice practice until you KNOW you can safely PLF any landing, fast, slow, flare too high, etc. You don't want to be worrying about that when you go for a skydive - when so much else is more important than saving your ankle and it is totally possible to practice PLF to each side, to the front, and backwards from someone's porch or pickup.
In the meantime, practice that arch! You can do that every day no matter what your ankle is up to!

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just make sure you can hear the damn radio ! if you feel like you need someone to tell you when to flare, even for 10-15-hell 20 jumps, just let an instructor know, he'll probably set you up with one.
Better be on the ground wishing you were up there than being up there wishing you were on the ground.

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Even with a radio, you aren't guaranteed to flare at the correct time. And learning to flare correctly all the time isn't done in 20 jumps either.

Training your PLF (together with a correctly sized canopy) is by far the most important tool in your box to prevent you getting hurt. It's much better to do a PLF and think afterwards: "that wasn't really necessary", than the other way around. So practice it ad nauseam and beyond. It's a skill you'll never regret learning to perfection. I still use it occasionally (after >450 jumps) to prevent getting f*cked on iffy landings.

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Lawndarter


I've got some good resources already sent by private message too, that's great.



Good for you but it slightly screws over others watching the thread -- the forum guidelines specifically recommend that people share publicly if they're going to share. That being said, there are minor things or things of interest to a particular DZ only that don't need to take up forum space. (Say, the DZ's colour scheme for marking which student rig has the 230's and which has the 260's and 290's.).

As for footwear, maybe pick something "in between" what you talked about.

Solid boots do provide some ankle protection. After all you aren't wearing skis, and the leg is really flexible at the ankle, so a higher shoe can reduce the chance for tipping it over at that point. And that's what breaks the lateral malleolus, which is I think what you broke at the bottom of the fibula. But solid boots can have treads that grab the turf too easily, making even the slightest slide difficult. And AFF instructors may not want them on a student as a boot to the face is worse than a running shoe to the face.

Skate shoes are used by quite a few jumpers, particularly with faster canopies, because of their smooth sole. But I do find they have little cushioning vertically compared to a regular running who, which one might prefer if one isn't always sliding in or running it out perfectly.

Sliding can either be used for the whole of a fast landing where a jumper is sure they won't drop down on their spine with excess vertical speed, or as just the start of a landing where they transition to running out the landing. But that's not really for a student; that's for down the road.

A student will want to keep feet together for mutual ankle support and be ready to PLF, like everyone says.

Sure, after some jumps a student might see they are having a good landing, with near zero vertical speed, and 'step down' with one foot and take a couple steps with little wind. While that is realistic, an instructor can't recommend that, because otherwise some student will stick a foot out when their flare isn't perfect and they haven't gauged vertical and horizontal speed right... and break their ankle.

Gotta run. I'm off to test jump some new student gear at Skydive Toronto; probably the last chance this year.

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Quote

I think it was actually a 260, I'll have to look at what I wrote in my logbook. I feel like no one would have let me jump too small a canopy. Or at least I certainly hope not.




Below is a link to the PD page for the Silhouette. It includes a chart with recommended weight ranges for different sizes and different levels of experience. Skydiving is an adult sport and I assume you are an adult. So you decide. Keep in mind that exit weight should be calculated by adding your weight plus the weight of the gear. Gear weight in your case is at least 25 lbs.

http://www.performancedesigns.com/silhouette.aspx
Always remember the brave children who died defending your right to bear arms. Freedom is not free.

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I've got some places I will be practicing PLF - even the DZ does too - I think I want to get it burned into my head as just a drill.

And I'm going to ask more questions about the rig - I didn't really understand wingloading at the time, and now that I've been reading more, I can't see why I had a canopy. It had to be a 260 though - unless I really misunderstood something. The instructors gave me the rig and said "this should do it!"

It's off season now (too cold!) and I'm a long way from the DZ but part of the FB group so there's lots of good discussion there I'm following. I'm just getting read to start physio and rehab and I won't be going near a plane until I'm 100% though may go up to the DZ to watch some landings and chat with instructors if it opens before that.

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A lot of the older guys and instructors are kinda of the "you'll figure it out" mindset so try not to take it too hard on em, just explain you'd like something more conservative.

This very by the book, very conservative, take it one step at a time mentality is kind of new to the skydiving community. I've had a number of S&TAs and reformed old time jumpers tell me "I can't believe what we did 15-20 years ago, it was crazy, but at the time it was normal."

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Heh, there will be nothing but taking it easy on them!

I want to learn as much as I can before I go back up. Indeed, now that I'm starting to understand wing loading and so on it'll help me have a more intelligent discussion on how I get to my solo CoP and A license.

I have to also make sure my lovely wife, who's been through the "fun" of putting up with me while I recover feels better about the whole thing. She thinks I'm out of my mind for wanting to go back up, but is coming to realize that what happened was a stupid mistake more than anything.

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I think the radio is critical instrument for learning the landing pattern and exact flare time...I used to jump Navigator 260 (im skinny) during the AFF which offered me a relatively soft landings even with partial flares. Also I would recommend doing stretching and some gymnastic before jumping...search the forum and google, and of course speak to your AFF master about everything before making it.

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Remember to have your feet and knees together on your PLF. Students often tend to reach for the ground with one foot. This is going to put all the impact on one leg instead of spreading across both. Also, the reaching can result in a asymmetry that might have you turning during the flare.

Be sure to follow through on your flare. Get your arms all the way down before you hit the ground, and hold the flare through your PLF.

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After I broke my ankle in a skydiving accident (canopy collapse in wind shear) and as I returned to the sport I took ankle support seriously for a while before growing complacent about it again. I wore boots and I was able to find "Parachute Ankle Braces" of the sort that the military has used to reduce ankle injuries by 50%.

So try good boots with ankle support but make sure they have no snaggy eyelet hooks, it can take a bit of searching to find laced boots that don't have open hooks for the laces. If you're really concerned look for Parachute Ankle Braces. I think I got mine on ebay and they were not some useless wimpy cloth canvas or tape affairs they were quite rigid offering significant support.

When jumping, all the way in on final your feet and knees should be together. Your legs support each other. I learned the hard way that twisting or rolling an ankle can mean breaking an ankle and a lot of strength is to be gained from keeping them together and reinforcing them with boots + mutual support.

After you gain experience you will value agility and running out a flare over PLF of a misjudged flare. Military jumping on rounds is not the same as sport jumping on parafoils and it makes sense that after you are better at flaring you will want to reevaluate your choices.

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If anyone happens to search for ORIFs and finds this threat again I figured I'd put in an update.

I took my first step out of an air cast the week before Christmas, have done months of physio, and I'm healed up pretty well - I still am not running long distances but overall it feels good.

I did a tandem jump in May (they had a Skyvan, and I couldn't say no) and then a second in June with my friend who was going for her first for her birthday. This past weekend I restarted AFF.

First jump was not great - I was really tense once I got to the door and I was all over the place, instructor dumped me at 9500' - I had just gotten myself stable, and was turning to try to locate her, but she wasn't sure if I was in control or not, and decided it was best to pull. Under canopy though I was comfortable pretty much right away, got into the pattern, had the radio much better sounding, and got brought in. I wound up sliding in the landing, but it was soft and smooth - I think the slide came from subconsciously guarding the ankle - though I was wearing solid boots.

I did get a set of parachute ankle braces too but actually forgot them that day.

I sat out a few loads to just relax and talk through the jump and did a second jump later in the afternoon. This time I was much more relaxed - but I spent 30 seconds at the door! We opened high to get back onto the DZ. This time again a slide in but even softer, and I actually called the flare timing myself alright though I didn't pull down far enough (I think that created the slide).

I couldn't hang around for more but those two restored my confidence tremendously so this weekend I'll be back to get some more on the go. I think now that I've seen it through a couple of times it seems much simpler.

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There was a lengthy discussion about slide landings on another thread. The conclusion was that the best slide landings are slightly off-center to absorb most of the impact with a large thigh muscle and buttock muscle to reduce the risk of broken bones or compressed spinal discs.

Still keep your feet out in front to allow them to absorb some landing impact, reducing impacts on knees.

Still try to absorb most of the landing impact with large muscles the same theory as a military Parachute Landing Fall. PLGs gradually dis dissipate impact along many muscles: balls of feet, calf muscles, thigh muscles, buttocks and finish by rolling diagonally across the back.

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I was out again this weekend but between weather and other commitments only got two more in - FAR more relaxed, and generally much better - first landing was in the pea gravel and almost was standing up but I lost my balance a little as my canopy was dragged around by a nice wind at ground level. Second one again went into a slide. So I think what I am doing wrong is not really leaning forward enough into my harness on landing - which would probably explain how the break happened in the first place - I was in what I thought was a good PLF position but my heel struck the ground first - going to try that this weekend, which should be the weekend I finish off my solo CoP - and it all will seem worth it.

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Thanks for this post and the updates. I too have had some problems standing up my landings. (18 jumps total) So far I've only succeeded 4 times. Most of the time I tired to PLF but I was too much in the back seat and slid in. Not a fan of the slide technique because of the possibility of spinal injury, I'd rather break a leg than a vertebrae. About 6 jumps ago I downsized to a 220 from a 260 and I like it much better. I'm about 235lbs exit weight which puts me at 1.07 wing loading. A bit aggressive I know but I get a better flare with more speed coming in. Anyway, it's a work in progress.

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hendo

***

Going to try consciously leaning into my chest strap on my flair for tomorrow's jumps.



I'm going to try the same on my next jump, let me know how it goes.

Blue Skies

It seemed to work - I did five jumps on Saturday, and while I'm still not getting them as perfect standups all but one was a much better landing without a slide - one, last of the day, was rough but it's because I'd been thinking too much about what I did in the sky and didn't think about the landing position.

One of the wise old jumpers at my DZ put it well - it's like wanting to step onto the ground - being ready to step into it instead of back where you've got to have a lot of forward momentum to go anywhere but to the ground on your arse.

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