Here's Why The Milk Crate Challenge Is So Dangerous

"We're all so worried about COVID, but TikTok is what's going to kill us," Stephen A. Smith told the audience of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which Smith was guest-hosting earlier this week (via CNET). And no, Smith is not talking about those obviously dangerous TikTok cooking trends like cooking chicken with hot sink water and poaching eggs in the microwave. Rather, what Smith was referring to in this case was the TikTok phenomenon known as the "milk crate challenge." 

The #MilkCrateChallenge begins with collecting an almost incomprehensible number of empty plastic milk crates, stacking them to form a makeshift staircase, and then attempting to climb said creation. It's not clear how or why this TikTok trend began, although it seems to have reached a fever pitch over the course of last weekend. Nor is it clear what the point of it is — unless the point is to deliberately create a physically precarious situation and then milk (crate) the slapstick humor for all it's worth. The problem is, there's a fine line between slapstick and genuine injury risk. And in the context of a pandemic, that line is basically a blur, according to an expert we spoke to. Here's what board certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Dr. Bruce Pinker had to say about why the milk crate challenge that's taken over TikTok is so dangerous. 

Dangerous stunts like this challenge have no place in a pandemic

Board certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Dr. Bruce Pinker has not yet personally witnessed any milk crate challenge-related injuries. But he's already heard about plenty. "The most common injuries we anticipate are broken arms and wrists/fingers, shoulder injuries slash disclocations, back and spinal injuries, head trauma, and lower extremity injuries (hip, leg, knee, ankle, and foot)," he told Mashed. And as dangerous and even life-threatening as some of those injuries can be, especially if they involve head trauma, they present an additional problem in the context of a pandemic. 

"With many hospitals ... filling up their ICU beds, some ...  may not have room for trauma patients, be it head trauma or fractured legs or spinal injuries," explained Dr. Pinker. He believes that stunts such as these go viral "due to the outrageousness and high risk that they possess. People enjoy watching because it is something they would never do themselves. They find it funny and crazy, as they can't believe someone would carry out such a ridiculous stunt."

According to CNET, if you search for the milk crate challenge on TikTok, you'll now be greeted with a message saying, "This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines." Some of the related videos have even been taken down. So, at least TikTok seems to be getting the message.