How to Fall Without Getting Injured

cane 2013-08-06_1137

By Kevin Leland

For: Fitness Content

Tripping and falling is something that no one can walk through life without doing once in a while. Sure, it’s always embarrassing, but does it always have to be painful? What are some things that you can learn do to prevent hitting the canvas in the first place?

I’ve taken many good spills, but I’ve always been really good at graceful landings. Once I got thrown off a horse. I came down, head first, from a height of about seven feet and was able to use some of the techniques I’ll teach in this post to roll right back up onto my feet without so much as a scrape or a bruise –not counting the one I got from the first buck that sent me up in the air to come back down on the saddle horn. I was very thankful for the location of this bruise. Two inches to the northwest, and I would be telling this story in a high pitched voice. Two inches to the southwest and I would be telling it as a very special friend of a saddle.

The second buck shot me up and over the horses head. When I met the ground I used a nice ‘tuck and roll’ -that probably saved me from the type of injury that crippled Christopher Reeves, God rest his soul. Falling can cause serious injury to the young and old alike. Here in New England and in other cold climates, no matter how good you are on your feet, you will be lucky to get through an entire winter without the icy asphalt pulling you down to say “hello” –up close and personal.

‘Black ice’ is diabolical. It is invisible, or sometimes appears as wetness on the pavement. One winter night, coming out of the Laundromat while holding my 2 1/2 year old son, I stepped on black ice. Both feet instantly went out from under me and it seemed like I hovered in mid air, stretched out straight, before getting slammed to the ground flat on my back.

 When you fall while holding a baby, and I’ve done this three times with my youngest son –without hurting him thank God, what you naturally do to protect the kid is exactly what you must do to protect yourself when falling without a child in your arms.

 First rule for a safe fall:

 Don’t flail your arms out and try to use them in any way to break your fall. You will only break your arm instead…Or your wrist, or pull a ligament.

If you are holding a baby, it’s a first reaction to wrap your arms around him, and land on your back or side…Or backside, keeping the kid safely on top of you. When falling alone, resist the temptation to put your arms out and fall on your face. Tuck in your arms, and try to twist in a way that will allow you to land on a shoulder.

Preventing a fall in the first place is crucial. Keeping your eyes moving around while you are walking will help you identify stumbling blocks before they lay you out. Another good way to prevent a fall is to walk with a cane. Even a younger person when walking in the woods, where there can be a lot of thing to trip on, like roots, or potato sized rocks that roll under your feet can benefit from a couple sticks in hand. Seniors will not only find balance and stability when using a cane – like having a third leg, but just slight pressure on the cane relieves over twenty pounds of weight from the hips and legs. If you don’t have an injured leg, be sure to change the cane from your right to your left hands. Favoring one side, can weaken that side.


  • Walking with a cane, or with a stick in each hand when on rough terrain, can stabilize you and prevent falls.
  • Watch your step…Literally. Scan for obstacles.
  • DO NOT put your arms out to break your fall, the exception being, if you are falling down stairs reach out for the rail to stop yourself from tumbling down the whole flight.
  • DO tuck your arms in close to your body, and try to land on a shoulder with a rolling motion, or a butt-cheek in a sitting position.
  • Try not to tense up too much. Although, when falling flat on your back, use your neck muscles to keep your chin tucked to your chest to prevent the back of your head from hitting the ground.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom especially, to stabilize yourself getting in and out of the shower where surfaces are wet and slippery.
  • Place handrails along any stairs. Having them on each side if possible, even though it isn’t called for in building codes, can make steps extra safe.


2 responses to “How to Fall Without Getting Injured

  1. You are right… my aunt broke her wrists when she feel and tried to break her fall.

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