Whether you are training to be the next American Ninja Warrior or just staying in shape, beware of so-called "no-attachment" pull-up bars.
These home exercise "as seen on TV" devices are potentially dangerous. Their key selling point - that they can instantly turn any doorway into a home gym - is also a potential flaw. Under certain circumstances these pull-up bars can dislodge from the door frame, sending you crashing to the floor.
Turn any door into ... a terrible accident
Portable pull-up bars have been on the market for a while - sold on TV, on the internet and at major retailers. The Original Iron Gym and the Perfect Multi-Gym are widely marketed versions. Others are affiliated with well-known fitness brands such as Gold's Gym and Everlast. Now there are dozens of similar products, including Chinese knockoffs often made with inferior materials.
When the equipment fails, the results can be catastrophic. The bars have been linked to serious and disabling injuries ranging from bone fractures to head injury and spinal cord trauma.
What makes these pull-up bars unsafe?
No-attachment pull up bars are marketed as being able to "turn any door into your own personal gym." Their appeal is that they "install in seconds" without the need to permanently attach the device to the door. The no-attachment pull-up bars are designed to be held in place with leverage - the user's body weight keeps the device attached to the door frame. A header piece hooks over the top edge of the door trim and a horizontal bar braces the device against the opposite side of the door jamb.
There are several ways that no-attachment pull-up bars can fail:
- At the top of a pull-up (on the upswing) the bar becomes temporarily unweighted, which can make it unstable. Many users report that the bar slips off the door frame or slides sideways during vigorous chin-ups.
- If the wooden door trim is too narrow or too flimsy, the apparatus can slip off the edge or break the door trim. The instructions may reference maximum width of the doorway, but typically to do not reference minimum specs for the door trim that supports the bar.
- The device itself may fail. Some of the cheaper knockoffs are made with flimsy blow-moulded plastic that can break when too much pressure is applied.
There are just too many things that can go wrong
When one type of equipment is associated with the trifecta of product liability - design defects, manufacturing defects AND failure to warn of dangers - there are bound to be serious injuries even if it is used as intended. Be very careful if you have one of these portable pull-up bars. Better yet, use a proper and permanently installed pull-up bar. If you aren't able to install a pull-up bar, hire a professional to do the job.
If you know someone who was injured by a pull-up bar or similar exercise equipment, encourage them to talk to a personal injury attorney who handles dangerous and defective products. Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss has successfully litigated one pull-up bar lawsuit, and has another pending case.