Falling Correctly

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Falling Correctly

Postby wombatK » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:19 pm

In another thread where the inevitability of clip-stacking was discussed, winstonw made this interesting comment:
my view on falling to minimize injury is to spread the impact along as much of your body as you can.
So don't put your arm out at a right angle when falling to the side, but put it out further and try to take some of the weight on your elbow, forearm and hand. This will allow your leg, pelvis, and trunk to take some of the deceleration impact before your upper limb. I've fallen like this 5 times now and have come away amazingly intact.

The fall that scares me most is falling to one side and you take your trunk the opposite way. I saw a guy fracture his ankle badly doing this. If you can't decleat, better to go the same way as the bike. Easier said than done I know.

The other thing to do to reduce injury is reduce bodyfat and do some bodyweight resistance exercise for your upper body and limbs - push ups, horizontal pull ups

Police cyclists have told me that they receive training about how to fall from their bikes. So perhaps there is a right way, and a wrong way to do it. Not just in clip-stacks, but maybe more serious situations like wheel-clips and similar dramas when pace-lining.

What are your tips about the right way to fall from your bike so as to minimize the injury consequences ?
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by BNA » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:23 pm

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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby sogood » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:23 pm

When I do fall from a bike (haven't for a long time), I don't ever recall as having the time to think twice of how I should fall. It has always been one of those "it just happened" episode.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby high_tea » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:34 pm

Totally agree. My tips would be:

- don't straighten your arm(s) when falling forwards (falling onto your back is another story)
- practice falling (easier said than done, I know, but you want to do it without thinking about it - that takes practice)
- wear gloves. If you fall correctly, your hands will take a beating. Gravel rash on your hands is no fun at all. Ask me how I know.

edit:spelling
Last edited by high_tea on Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby greyhoundtom » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:42 pm

It’s amazing what goes through your mind when you realise you are going down and that there is nothing you can do to stop it.

I was extremely lucky in the one instance that I was rear ended, because of a good mirror that I glanced in as I heard the car real close I had that split second to decide to unclip and roll over the bars as I felt the car hit the rear of the bike.

I tucked in and used my arms to throw myself forward and towards the side of the road so that the car would not run over me.

End result a sore shoulder, a scraped knee and unfortunately I tucked the elbows in a little too tight and the tip of my left elbow fractured a rib. :oops:

But all in all I walked, sorry limped, away from that one with relative minor damage compared to the bike.

I must admit that afterwards I could not believe that in the spur of the moment I had decided to go over the bars, but lucky I did as the bike mostly ended up under the car, and the car finished up sliding past me.

The right way to fall? The only way you could achieve that is with a lot of practice and even then in most instances you need a slow speed accident to put it into practice, as no matter how much you practice there is little you can do if a car hits you at 80 + km.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby Kraeg » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:44 pm

I fell from a penny farthing last weekend. No-one had instructed me how to do so, but as I came crashing down I put my leading leg out and rolled down along the side of my leg, body, then arm, while twisting onto my back. I guess I fell as winstonw advises (spreading impact etc). Now I'm not too concerned about falling off my bikes (I guess they use to call them safety cycles for a reason).
It was onto grass though, but not thick lucious grass. And it seemed to happen slowly, so as I fell my mind was able to think of how to handle my body (I felt like an observer, like watching a tense movie scene on the edge of my seat).

A guy fell off the same penny farthing after me... he tried to go the opposite way and ended up stepping on the wheel and buckling it. It probably looked more dignified than my fall, as he stayed somewhat upright, but so long as no-one was filming and I don't end up on YouTube or Australia's Funniest Home Videos I don't care... at least I didn't damage the bike!
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:55 pm

MTB'ing is the best way to learn to fall....and fall a lot if you are trying to ride everything.
My young fella who seems to be pretty handy on a mtb but stills falls off a fair bit told me it was because of 3 years of Judo that he never gets hurt...thought that was pretty good for a 7 year old :lol: .
The only time I didn't have time to think was when I stood up on a slight rise and the front wheel disappeared...we were on a huge patch of black ice and didn't know it.Still didn't get hurt...unlike one of the other guys I took out :oops: .
I came off an hour ago btw :lol: ...cyclocross training in full swing and I usually come off once or twice a session when pushing it.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby winstonw » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:19 pm

that quote above from me is in relation to the 5 falls was when I couldn't decleat in time. I was stopped or almost, and had time to realize I was going to fall sideways.

The only other falls I've had were in my 20s when I lost it on corners in gravel or wet. In those I didn't have time to get an arm out and came down on leg, pelvis, and shoulder - just a bit of painful road rash but able to ride away.

I've never gone over the handlebars, and think it would take extremely good reflexes and practised rolling to influence the impact, as in not face plant. In close quarters criterium racing, I doubt even a judo champion could react quick enough if someone went down in front.

edit:
actually when in the USA, a car traveling in same direction made a right hand turn across my line. I was able to stick my left hand out against the RHS of the car and hold myself up long enough not to go under the car's rear right wheel.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby Baalzamon » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:41 pm

That is what I do when I KNOW I'm going down. Every clip stack gone UH OH I'm going down, time to brace for impact. Last stack I was on the bike, I'm picking myself up off the ground thorougly stunned and making sure I've broken nothing. Finding things in the dark is hard, my helmet light went flying and had to find that...
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:47 pm

There is no "inevitability of clip-stacking" ... it is a myth.
There is often plenty of time to react when going over the bars...I have only face planted once in maybe a dozen or more OTB's.
Never come down in a sprint yet...sometimes there is time to react.
Personally I have only been hurt badly in motorbike crashes of which I have had a few...some were down to racing,some down to being young and stupid...in all of those incidents and I can recall most of them pretty well I did have time to react,even at 200kmph+...so of those reactions saved me from more serious injuries.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby sogood » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:52 pm

toolonglegs wrote:I came off an hour ago btw :lol: ...cyclocross training in full swing and I usually come off once or twice a session when pushing it.

You must have cured your back problem. Way to go! :mrgreen:
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby sogood » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:54 pm

Ok, here's an idea. Always fall on the left. On the right, you have even chance of scratching and/or bending your RD.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:55 pm

sogood wrote:
toolonglegs wrote:I came off an hour ago btw :lol: ...cyclocross training in full swing and I usually come off once or twice a session when pushing it.

You must have cured your back problem. Way to go! :mrgreen:

I wish...still have major back problems,just working around them...but have noticed that falling off is a lot less painful than it was a month ago :lol: .
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby Mugglechops » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:00 am

This not how to do it :D

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhpW2Rdq8WU&feature=player_profilepage[/youtube]

I spent a few hours in hospital and was sore for a few weeks.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby licensed » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:04 am

I fell off my MTB at 70km/h on an asphalt road (had an irresponsible land speed record attempt going with a friend), wearing nothing more than a helmet, t shirt, shorts, shoes and gloves. I went over the handlebars superman style and tucked and rolled and walked away with minor to moderate grazes which required a quick hospital clean out and a few days to recover. Can't complain :)
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby toppity » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:09 am

Ask Joel Pearson if there is a right way to crash. He has come down 5 times already in the Tour of the Murray race going on at the moment. I wonder if he has any skin left?
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby pauls51 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:14 am

Was riding alone at Lysterfield a couple of years ago and BADLY misjudged the landing on a jump!!!... Opened up my knee, broke my front light and because I was alone, I had to jump on the saddle and keep riding even though it was almost pitch black!... I was sore for a couple of days then several days later discovered that my knee was infected and wasn't able to ride for a week! :shock:
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby Marto » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:32 am

sogood wrote:Ok, here's an idea. Always fall on the left. On the right, you have even chance of scratching and/or bending your RD.


But I 'tried' that on a road surfaced like this
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and my bars got caught, then my bike flipped over onto the right side, including the RD :mrgreen:
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby winstonw » Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:53 am

Mugglechops wrote:This not how to do it :D
I spent a few hours in hospital and was sore for a few weeks.


at least you got your head down enough to let your centre of gravity go over the top.

I guess there's a threshold on when to duck your head to roll, or stick it out and face plant.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby goneriding » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:19 pm

Before my knees decided they didn't want to play nice anymore I spent years training and competing in Judo. A large part of the training is on falling technique in all directions. As Winstonw said, dispertion is the best approach but protecting important bits of your anatomy is also important.

Of the falls I've had I automatically apply what I learnt in the old days and whilst I still lose skin, that's about the extent of the damage thus far - touch wood.

The trick is to relax so that you can get your body into the right position/trajectory before you hit the deck allowing you to get your arms in the best position to absorb the impact. The trick with arms is not to lead with your elbows. If you do you get collar bone, shoulder, and elbow injuries. Hands and forearms is where you want to try and take the load. For an OTB curving your arm to create a semi circle that extends across your back is the way to go.

If you're keen to learn just lob up to your local Judo club and they'll be glad to teach you how to fall over :)
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby trailgumby » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:00 pm

Had a clipstack on the weekend at Oxford Falls when the shoe was full of mud and the pedal wouldn't release: "I'll just slow and unclip and dab past this obstacle.... oh, damn, no I won't ... OWWW! :x FU-FU-FFFFUUUUU!!! :x :oops: " :lol:

After cracking my scaphoid a few years ago I've learned to take the landing softly and try to turn it into a roll which, while occasionally resulting in some lost skin, has limited the damage to just the skin.

It was just really annoying to do this on the weekend in the most painful place possible, a bunch of sharp exercise ball-sized rocks and sharp sticks. The sticks hurt the most, followed by the top tube cracking me on the shin!

So glad I covered the bike in Frameskin.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby winstonw » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:18 pm

goneriding wrote:If you're keen to learn just lob up to your local Judo club and they'll be glad to teach you how to fall over :)


I might actually do that. I'm 6ft1in and haven't had to roll in 30 odd years. I doubt I'd have the sense to make a ball when going OTB or any other time. I imagine I'd be more concerned about landing on my head and fracturing my neck.

A workmate of mine is a 6ft2in ex wallaby. When he last went OTB, and put his arms out, he fractured both radial heads, and had 8 weeks with no income.

The judo could be a very good investment.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby goneriding » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:40 pm

winstonw wrote:The judo could be a very good investment.


The best part is that the first thing they teach you is how to fall. When I was training we'd spend anything up to 30 minutes practicing falling! The main thing to watch out for are your fingers. Again, you'll learn this very quickly :)

Apart from the self defense and fitness aspects the other bonus with Judo is the improvements in balance you can achieve.
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby MichaelB » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:51 pm

I try to spend most of my time trying NOT to fall.

Worked so far. :D
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby jacks1071 » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:02 pm

wombatK wrote:In another thread where the inevitability of clip-stacking was discussed, winstonw made this interesting comment:
my view on falling to minimize injury is to spread the impact along as much of your body as you can.
So don't put your arm out at a right angle when falling to the side, but put it out further and try to take some of the weight on your elbow, forearm and hand. This will allow your leg, pelvis, and trunk to take some of the deceleration impact before your upper limb. I've fallen like this 5 times now and have come away amazingly intact.

The fall that scares me most is falling to one side and you take your trunk the opposite way. I saw a guy fracture his ankle badly doing this. If you can't decleat, better to go the same way as the bike. Easier said than done I know.

The other thing to do to reduce injury is reduce bodyfat and do some bodyweight resistance exercise for your upper body and limbs - push ups, horizontal pull ups

Police cyclists have told me that they receive training about how to fall from their bikes. So perhaps there is a right way, and a wrong way to do it. Not just in clip-stacks, but maybe more serious situations like wheel-clips and similar dramas when pace-lining.

What are your tips about the right way to fall from your bike so as to minimize the injury consequences ?


Tuck and roll baby!
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Re: Falling Correctly

Postby toolonglegs » Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:44 pm

MichaelB wrote:I try to spend most of my time trying NOT to fall.

Worked so far. :D


Wheres the fun it that... :P .
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