Fall safely in 3 steps
Post written by: Shie Boon
When we fall:
1. Understand that it’s okay to feel scared – Our upper body gets thrown off in a certain direction, leaving the lower body behind. This is not a position our bodies are used to and therefore the scary feeling of falling kicks in.
2. Synchronisation of upper and lower body – Next is the crucial moment that will determine what damage we will take or if we are able to mitigate it totally. Our lower body (legs) will scramble to match the speed of the upper body. In this scramble, if our legs manage to catch up, we will then re-stabilize ourselves. If our legs are unable to catch up, this is when the weight of our upper body will pull us to the ground.
3. Curl into a ball quickly to reduce impact – In the latter scenario, two things can happen. Either we bend our knees (squat) to lower our hips down to the floor, or we don’t. The smaller and faster we can curl ourselves towards the floor, the lower the impact of the fall and the easier it is to roll out of it. The more we expose our body’s surface area, the bigger the impact and the harder it becomes to disperse the fall’s momentum.
4. Properly absorb impact with your arms – We usually shoot our hands towards the ground to try to stop the fall, but we may not realise that our legs are much stronger than our arms. Hence we must first squat our hips down before using our hands to help with the impact absorption and dispersion. Speaking of absorption, wherever you place your hands during a fall, how freely your elbows can bend in that position determines how much impact your arm strength can absorb before it reaches its structural and physical limit. Sometimes even when our hands are placed in a good structural position for absorption, we restrict ourselves by locking out (not bending) the elbows. This results in jamming the wrist into the ground, which causes wrist strains, sprains and/or shoulder dislocations.
5. Flow with the momentum until you naturally stop – Lastly, it’s about the smooth and connected dispersion of the fall’s momentum. Don’t try to jam-stop the momentum of the fall with your hands, unless there is no safer choice (lava-spewing crocodiles below you) or you are confident that the strength of your straight and extended arms can manage the fall. Prepare and position your body and limbs in a sequence of actions to facilitate a smooth dispersion until the momentum of the fall naturally stops by itself. The most important safety pointer to take note is to protect your vital joints and organs namely head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, spine, hips, knees, ankles and heels. Curling into a foetus position will protect your organs and allow your ball-shaped body to roll smoothly.
Bonus tip: Strengthen your body to improve its readiness to manage a fall – Work on building strength and speed in your squats, push-ups and tuck jumps. If you have good foundational fitness, a strict burpee with a powerful tuck jump is a great exercise to improve full body coordination, connection and dynamism that are crucial aspects in effective movement. Even if the full burpee isn’t currently accessible, do a progressive version and more importantly focus on lightness and sensitivity of touch which are foundations of safety.
New to rolling?
Watch this video tutorial where our senior students demonstrate the common mistakes, safety pointers and exercises to practice in learning how to fall safely by rolling.
Practice rolling often to apply that newly gained strength into a functional skill ingrained into the reflexes of your body, so that when an unexpected fall happens, your body will be instinctively prepared to protect you.
That’s the end of it! Learning to fall safely will bring about precious physical and emotional confidence for not just ourselves but our loved ones.
Do help to share it if you think it will be helpful for others. Drop a comment if you have any feedback, falling tips or questions. Complementing our unique perspectives is what makes individuals and a community thrive as a whole. ?
Try a class with us to learn to fall safely from our coaches
Our safe and professional approach to teaching Art du Déplacement / Parkour is one of the top reasons our students have been able to come back again and again for training. Keen to try out the methods above with personalised guidance from our coaches? Book a trial with us today.