How to Fall and Avoid Injury

Important Injury Statistics

We all fall, some of us more than others. Sometimes this leads to minor damage like a stubbed toe or rolled ankle. Other times, it leads to more severe injuries, like a broken arm. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates that every day around 25,000 Americans are injured by tripping or falling. They also state that 35% of work related injuries are from falling, and result in 65% of all lost work days. So, is this preventable?

4 Steps to Properly Falling

Thurmon Lockhart, a professor of biomedical engineering at Arizona State University, has researched and found a way of falling that will cause the least amount of injury. Here the steps, as detailed by Men’s Health Magazine.

  1. Walk like you’re on a tightrope: if you are walking in a rocky or icy area, take slow small steps and extend your arms out for balance.
  2. Use your arms: instead of flailing your arms around and trying to grab something, swing your arms forward and up, so your center of gravity moves forward.
  3. Put your arms to your side: your natural instinct is to put your arms in front of you and fall on your hands, but that is how arms and wrists get broken. Try and resist this instinct, and fall with your arms to your side. This way, if you land on your side, you may bruise your arms, but you will avoid breaking or injuring your hips.
  4. Try to land on your butt: try and land on your butt, and then roll onto your hip. Try and land on the side opposite the slipping leg, to diffuse the force of the fall.

Preventing the Fall

Although it’s important to know how to fall to avoid injury, it’s probably helpful to know ways to try and preventing falling from even occurring. Be aware, and follow this helpful checklist for basic tips to keep yourself from falling in the first place.

  1. Wear proper footwear: shoes with traction, especially in icy, wet, and rocky areas, is vital in keeping ones balance. Slip-resistant shoes that are specifically designed to grip wet surfaces are important to have in your closet, and there are certain shoes that are designed for certain environments, like hiking boots or water shoes.
  2. Pay attention while walking: although people probably told you to keep your eyes straight ahead when you walk, it is important to look down every once in a while, especially when navigating in more accident prone terrain. Maintain a safe pace and be aware of yourself and where you are walking, in rocky and icy areas, it is important to be on alert because the chance of falling in much higher. It is also important when it comes to stairs or uneven sidewalks that you keep a safe pace, and hold on to railings when they are present.
  3. Use equipment properly: when using ladders and similar devices, and getting into vehicles, bicycles, and other modes of transportation, make sure the device is secure and you are getting on it properly. That means securing ladders and step stools and using them with caution, and starting or entering vehicles and other modes of transportation with ease and caution.
  4. Ensure safety of environment: are all cords out of the way? Do you have a bathmat to ensure you don’t slip in the shower? Do you have night lights and proper lighting in all areas of your home? It is important to make sure your home is safe and well organized. Cleanliness and organization are big factor in home safety, because with a mess and clutter comes a high chance of tripping and injuring yourself.
  5. Exercise: strength and balance are important in keeping oneself safe and healthy. With exercise, especially balance focused exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and paddle boarding, comes a stronger sense of balance, strength, and relaxation. These factors reduce your risk of falling, by strengthening your muscles, and lowering your chance of tripping or losing balance.
  6. Use caution when under the influence: Many falls and injuries occur when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This applies to over the counter medication, especially medication that makes you drowsy. Drugs and alcohol blur vision and increase the likelihood of falling or tripping from dizziness or carelessness. If you have a doctor prescribed medication that causes dizziness, talk to your doctor about switching medication. Otherwise, when under the influence of alcohol or drowsy inducing medication, be careful when walking, and remember to stay safe and keep away from the wheel.

Let’s make 2016 the safest year yet. Be safe, and try not to fall and hurt yourself. But, if you find yourself falling, act quickly, and fall properly by using the 4 steps.