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TikTok has made quite a name for itself as the social media platform where bad ideas go viral. TikTok challenges have made teenagers glue their upper lips, take dangerous amounts of Benadryl, and superglue vampire fangs to their teeth. While all of those trends were dangerous for different reasons, the latest scary TikTok challenge, known as the #standupchallenge, could result in a broken neck.
In the challenge, two participants work together to move through a series of positions that ends with one person standing on the other’s shoulders. Health asked Jeanette Jenkins, creator of the Hollywood Trainer club, to lay out why the standup challenge is not something the average person should attempt.
Jenkins explains that unless you have the core stability and strength of, say, a professional gymnast, things could go wrong during the challenge and leave one or both participants seriously hurt. If the person trying to balance on top of their partner’s shoulders falls, for example, there’s a very real possibility they could break their neck when they hit the ground. “You don’t want to fall from four [or] five feet,” she says.
But the standup challenge isn’t just dangerous for the person trying to balance on the other participant's shoulders, Jenkins warns. The person bearing the weight of their partner could seriously hurt their cervical spine (the part of your spine that connects your head to your body at the neck). “The cervical spine [is a] very delicate area,” Jenkins says. “You definitely don’t want a human body landing on your cervical spine.”
Jenkins also points out that trending fitness challenges like this aren’t necessarily dreamed up by experts. “Look at these challenges and know that, usually, it’s just a kid or someone who made this challenge up—there isn’t necessarily a fitness professional who created this challenge.”
The bottom line here is that the standup challenge isn’t safe for the average gym-goer and definitely shouldn’t be viewed as just a fun pastime during Covid. “I don’t advise these challenges,” Jenkins says. “I am 100 percent in support of having a fun time, I love challenges, but please, please think of the risk versus the reward. You can have fun without injuring yourself.”
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