Working with runners who run year round in any weather we hear a lot of injury stories, especially during the spring thaw and the fall freeze. After hearing these stories for 9 years, I have come to the conclusion that many people do not know how to fall or how to stay upright when footing is not ideal. Of course there is some degree of klutziness for everyone, but I think many just need a lesson in Falling and Not Falling.
As a self-proclaimed expert on falling based on my childhood “roughhousing” days, and on the concept that staying upright is beneficial in most sports that I played growing up, especially football, I thought I would share my observations and recommendations on how to properly wipe out.
How to Fall (and reduce the likelihood of breaking a bone or causing other bodily harm)
“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
In this example the unbalanced force is the ground. With this in mind, think about falling and how fruitless it is to put out your arm to catch yourself. For example, I weigh 185 and am 6 feet tall so if I fall approximately 5 feet to the ground the total force generated is 1195 pounds (this has to be right, I Googled it). Anyway, even if that isn’t exactly correct, the concept is. My wrist, elbow or shoulder is not likely to withstand that impact force when extended. The solution? Tuck and roll. Do not put your hand or arm out to catch yourself. Look for soft place to land. Maybe put your arms up to protect your head in the good old fetal position.
How to Not Fall:
Hopefully this is all pretty obvious stuff and you are saying to yourself – duh. If not, I hope these tips make sense and help you when you do fall.
My journey to the ground
I’d like to end on a personal falling story to hopefully illustrate my point. A few years back I wiped out during the Pardeeville Triathlon. Yeah, that’s in July, so ice was not the culprit. I had just gotten off the bike and was running into the transition area. I kicked my bike peddle as I was running and the bike suddenly veered in front of me. So, I did the obvious and leapt head-first over the handlebars into the landscaping feature at the entrance to the park in a sort of side shoulder forward roll. I then popped up, grabbed my bike and continued on my way.
Thankfully no one saw it… okay, that’s a lie, pretty much everyone saw it and still give me crap about it. I will say, I was proud to finish a triathlon with grass-stains on my back. Anyway, this was more instinct than planning but in that split second I found somewhere soft to land, didn’t extend my arms to catch myself and walked away injury free. (Placing 3rd in his age group – Jessica’s addition)
Good luck and happy vertical running!