Rock, Fall and Roll
Falling is fun when it’s by choice. It’s not so fun, and sometimes dangerous, when you fall by accident. Active people, not just the feeble, are going to fall. It might be on a hike, on a bike, getting out of a car, putting on your socks, getting out of the shower. The world is loaded with slippery stuff – ice, oil, mud, water - and obstacles like roots, rocks, ruts and curbs.
The secret to avoiding injury when you fall is learning and practicing how to roll your body like this group in the Younger Games, practicing side rolls.
In the Younger Games, we do lots of strength and balance training to stay upright, but sometimes a fall is unstoppable. Rolling de-fangs falls. By rolling, you dissipate the force of a fall over a larger surface of your body rather than just an isolated area like your hip or head.
Rolling requires practice. Through repetition you condition your central nervous system to acclimate and make rolling an automatic response when you sense that you’re going down. You don’t have to think, you just do it. You collapse and curve your body, surrender to gravity, and roll across the surface you fall on.
Many 50+ people are apprehensive about falling, fearful they will get hurt. The problem with this is they avoid falling, then when they do fall they are more apt to go down hard and attempt to arrest the fall with a stiff arm or simply slam down like an inert sack of flour or, worse, a stiff board.
To overcome these apprehensions, we start with simple rolling on the back and sides (in our gym, the floor is padded). Then we get on our knees and fall to the back and the sides. Then we progress to what you see in the video, where we get some velocity and roll onto a safe mat.
Through rolling practice, you make a couple of discoveries. One is that un-young bodies are incredibly strong. You can trust your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, developed with exercise, will perform and protect you. (Note: If you have advanced osteoporosis or another medical condition, consult with your healthcare professional prior to engaging in this type of exercise.) The second is that it’s fun to roll, especially once you get the hang of it and relax.
There’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt in an accidental fall, no matter what you do. But if you know how to roll, although you might get scrapes and bruises, you won’t break.