How to fall without breaking a bone

July 28, 2013, response to the comment:

The comment is dead wrong!!!!!

Extending the arm according to instinct is exactly what we do not want to do to break a fall. All martial arts teachers and students learn this and know this well.

A 256-lb. black man who extended his left arm to break his fall suffered from a broken arm at two places.

Every stunt person, every kung fu master, every martial arts instructor, every acrobat, and every gymnast knows how to fall without breaking a bone.  But sadly, establishment physical therapists are not taught this knowledge and therefore they cannot impart this lifesaving technique to their infirm and senior patients who really are constantly at risk of falling and breaking their bones. 

One of the first techniques that all stunt instructors, kung fu and martial arts masters and gymnastic teachers teach their students is how to fall.  Our natural instinct is to extend our arms and hands to keep our body from hitting the ground.  If you do that, you will twist or break the wrist, and if you are overweight, you may even break your arm bone.  If your patient is frail or has osteoporosis and brittle bones, it is very important that your patient learns how to fall without breaking his or her bones. 

A stunt instructor will tell you to roll when you hit the ground.  A kung fu master will tell you to brace yourself when you hit the ground.  A martial arts instructor may tell you to get into a fetal position when you hit the ground.  The natural instinct is to extend the arms towards the ground.  The instructors will teach you to overcome this instinct.  Instead of extending the arms and hands towards the ground as you realize you are falling, you must learn to embrace yourself, hug yourself, and bring your chin in and try to hit the ground with your upper arm and side shoulder area first.  You can also protect your head by holding it with your forearms and hands as if you are clamping your head with your hands and bent arms, and hit the ground on the side, with your upper arm and side shoulder hitting the ground first. 

When you are about to hit the ground, the stunt instructor will tell you to roll.  That means holding your head in and bending your legs and keeping the knees in, and either land on your feet or on your side shoulder-upper arm and roll forward. 

In a fetal position, your head, legs and arms are held in so when you hit the ground on your side, your head is protected. 

If you step on a wet floor and fall backwards, act contrary to instinct.  In this case, instinct tells us to extend our arms towards the back to break the fall when we hit the ground.  Instead, hold your head with your arms and try to land on your buttocks, preferably, on one side of your buttocks.  If you bend your knees and bring your calf towards you as soon as you hit the ground instead of extending your legs outward, you may even be able to sit as soon as your buttocks hit the ground.  These are all contrary to instinct.  Therefore the technique has to be learned.  Instead of trying to break a fall, we should learn to fall safely so that the parts of our body that have the most “cushion of flesh” hit the ground first.


About masterchensays

Victor Chen, herbalist, alternative healthcare lecturer, Chinese affairs analyst, retired journalist
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