Sometimes falls are inevitable – you caught your foot around the leg of a chair, or your foot caught the edge of the rug that was curled up, or your arm got stuck on the back of the chair while you were turning to put your coat on, or even slipping on ice.
Being comfortable and knowing how to fall, though, will help you in reducing your risk of injury.
I had a client once tell me she fell outside and didn’t know how to land, so she stiffened up and landed with a thud. There was no resiliency in her body and her brother who was with her stated it looked like a stiff object like a crate that was just thrown down.
On the other hand, my son was about 7 months old and had begun to pull himself up to stand and could stand with support. He was looking at a magazine on the coffee table and turning the pages with his right hand. Because he was using his right side and was still learning how to balance ( and did not have muscle tone yet), he fell to the right side like the leaning tower of Pisa. He had no reflexes to catch himself, but as he was very young the body was soft in the landing and he got right back up without injury.
If you practice how to fall, how to get to the floor and rise, and work on strength and balance, then when it does happen the body, motor and nervous systems, knows what to do.
Another example: I had a patient with dementia, 97 years old, who fractured her shoulder. She had no short term memory. She couldn’t remember from minute to minute. We began to work on hands and knees and getting down and rising. One day her daughter told me she fell out of the car, when it was parked, and got onto her hands and knees as we had done and rose up by herself from the ground. The daughter was astonished, but we had already been working on teaching the body how to do this. She had no memory of doing this, but the body learned.
So how do you train yourself to fall without risk of injury?
You need to train your muscles to decelerate a fall. This is actually more functional and the muscles become stronger this way. When you come out of an exercise, you want to slow it down. For instance, in a heel raise, as you lower down do it slowly. This gives you more control over the movement and increases the muscle strength.
Kneel on the floor- use mats or padding if you need it – and try hinging forward as far as you can without lifting the lower legs off the floor. Try hinging backward without breaking the spinal line (meaning arching in lower back, sticking out the buttocks, or hunching in the upper back).
Do a deep curtsy by crossing your leg behind the other leg and squat down.
One last exercise to try: get up and down from the floor without using your hands.
So hopefully this has given you some insight in how to fall and protect yourself besides preparing your body in case you do fall. Then you will be better able to avoid injury.
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To Your Health,