3 Ways to Minimize Injuries in a Fall

1. Surviving a Long Fall

People have survived falls from amazing heights, but the rule of thumb is that the farther you fall, the worse your injuries. No matter how far you fall, here are some things you can do to reduce your chance of injury:

Relax, or at least try not to panic. Tense muscles and rigid joints are more at risk of injury.

Pick a good landing spot. As much as possible, avoid sharp rocks and hard surfaces. Try to fall on a slope, on dirt, or even in water.

Protect your head. A head injury is worse than scrapes, bruises or even fractures. If you think you might land on your head, cover it as much as possible with your arms.

Land on your feet. Try to land on the balls of your feet; bend your knees as you land to cushion the blow.

Get on a roll. If you fall backward, try to land on your butt rather than breaking the fall with your arms. If you fall face first, remember to protect your head, while rolling toward one shoulder.

Try to slow your fall. If you’re falling from a great height, spread yourself out–arch your back, spread your arms and legs — until you get closer to the ground, then get your feet underneath you. Even if you’re falling from the roof or a ladder, try to get hold of something to slow you down, while orienting yourself to an upright position.

Call a doctor. If you’ve fallen very far or very hard, seek medical advice, even if you don’t appear injured. Occasionally a fall will affect something you can’t see.

2. Preventing Injuries in a Ground-level Fall

Even a ground-level fall can be serious if you are on rough terrain or a hard surface, if you are older, or you’re out of shape. You can do the same things to protect yourself, however, whether you’re falling from the air or you just trip and fall:

Relax as much as possible and try to avoid hard or sharp objects. If you’re falling down a slope, slow your fall by grabbing onto bushes or trees. If you’re falling forward, tuck and roll toward your shoulder. Above all, protect your head.

3. Don’t Fall

The most important way to minimize fall injuries is to not fall:

Be aware of your surroundings, especially the surface you’re on. Is it wet, hard or gravelly? Does it have loose soil or roots that protrude?

Be careful not to change directions too quickly, especially if you’re already moving fast.

Wear appropriate shoes. Whether you’re running, working or just walking through the mall, the right shoes make a difference. If you have to wear dress shoes, only wear them for dress-up occasions.

Stay fit and healthy. Maintaining good muscle strength, especially in your legs, is important, as is flexibility, which promotes good balance. Adding yoga, tai chi or similar programs to your exercise regimen improves balance and flexibility.

About this Author

Marcia Veach holds degrees in both physical therapy and journalism and has been an active health care professional for 30 years and a freelance writer for more than 10 years. She has served as a writer and editor for business, nonprofit and health publications.