Let’s talk about falling. It seems to be a topic of concern for a lot of people I know. Typically, it’s a concern for the elderly, but also for those like me who have movement disorders.
In this post, I’ll talk about the fear of falling, common injuries, those who have mastered falling and how we too can learn how to fall the right way.
Fear of Falling
Falling is something nobody really wants to do. We have good reason to be afraid of it. But, I’ve started to look at in a different way.
Falling is something that we’ve been taught to fear. There are countless anecdotes we have heard, no doubt, where people have been seriously injured due to an accidental fall.
Not that I’m saying I’m totally immune. It’s definitely challenging to not be afraid. But, I believe that if I can put my fears aside, step back and think logically, I will be better off.
I don’t think avoiding a fall is an adequate response. Assuming you are in one of those higher-risk populations like me (have a movement disorder or are elderly), you may just fall whether you are afraid to or not. In my view, we’re better off being prepared.
Thankfully, I have lived in the martial arts world for a while and know there is another approach we could take.
Common Injuries From Falling
Here are some relevant statistics from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. These are stats for the United States, but I’m sure it’s a similar situation in other countries.
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury
- Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
The Masters of Falling
I compiled the following list to show that: (1) we can overcome the fear of falling and (2) we can fall and not get injured.
These are some people who regularly fall as part of their job!
- physical comedians
- martial artists
I’m sure you could think of more. My point is that we don’t have to be afraid of this.
Learning How to Fall Properly
Now that we’ve gone over that falling safely is possible, let’s get to work! I’ve recently started practicing a few of these falls by breaking them down into smaller more manageable segments.
The Backwards Breakfall (I call it the Backfall)
I started this move from a sit-up position. My goal here is to keep my chin tucked in (so as not to hit my head on the ground) and to focus my arm strike. The arm strike is meant to distribute the impact of my fall over a greater surface area. The arm strike should be like a punch or perhaps like a whip – not a push.
The Forwards Breakfall (Frontfall)
The frontfall is similar to the backfall. I start from my knees here and fall onto my forearms. The forearm strike should be like the arm strike from the breakfall. I want to focus my energy on the floor/ground. I don’t want to land on my wrists, so I keep those in line with my forearm/elbow.
The Backwards Roll (Backroll)
I felt I should also practice this move as a backup in case I don’t have the opportunity to do a backfall.
There are two others I haven’t started on yet:
The Sidefall – requires a little more coordination
The Frontroll – I honestly still have some psychological barriers around this one. 🙂
I really hope you got a lot of this post. We can harbour fears that hold us back. But with some patience and perseverance, we can overcome them.
Here are some more links on the subject:
Fear of Falling – A 95-year-old man shares his tricks to safe falling
Japanese-style Breakfall – Falling without Injury
Rolling Fall – How to Roll to Break Your Fall
Parkour/Judo Roll – Best Parkour Roll, Judo Breakfall Tutorial (How to land a fall)