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Safe Landing Strategies

Last week we held an event at the Maine Strong Balance Center sharing tips to reduce your likelihood of injury in the event of a fall. Additionally, we demonstrated these strategies using a "crash pad"!

If you were unable to attend, stay tuned and we will host another demonstration later this year.

Part of our goal at the Balance Center is to be a resource for the community, and in that spirit we wanted to share the Tips here.

The Tips are based on research that was published in early 2017 which included compiling the data from 13 studies and included over 200 participants.

The participants were asked to fall using various strategies, and force plates measured the impact. Here's what we found:

- In the event of a FORWARD FALL: the tip is to bend your elbow and "roll" with the fall. Researchers found this strategy reduced the impact force at the elbow by 40%, the shoulder by 26%, the wrist by 26% and the hand by 14%.

- In the event of a BACKWARD FALL: the tip is to bend your knees and "roll" with the fall. Researchers found that bending your knees or squatting reduced the impact energy of the hip by 44%.

The million dollar question is what to do with this information, as we understand that many times falls happen so quickly. Here's our suggestions:

- Plan. Some falls do happen slowly. We frequently work with folks who take a number of steps prior to losing balance. If you fit this profile, try to remember to "roll"! Additionally, if you know you frequently lose your balance backwards, remember to "bend your knees"! or vice versa if you tend to lose your balance forwards, remember to "bend your elbow"! Admittedly, it may be difficult to retrieve this information in the moment. But hopefully this knowledge increases your chances of softening a fall.

-Practice. Martial artists, stunt men/women, military personnel and horseback riders frequently fall, and they practice how to do it! Similarly, at the Balance Center we are able to practice using pads at the clinic. With practice, these skills can become second nature and you can increase your likelihood of reacting properly. Strategies including practicing rolling back in forth on a mat or in bed AND small falls from hands and knees into a roll on a mat or in bed. We recommend receiving clearance from your doctor and practicing with a physical therapist.

Our sincere hope is we can help soften a fall for any reader. Contact us at (207) 303-0612 or email or via the link below if you are interested in our help improving your balance or reducing your risk of injury in the event of a fall.

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