Preventing Injuries – How To Fall Safety While Skiing/Snowboarding

I was looking over my previous post on preventing injuries and I realised that I missed a major point. I didn’t cover how to fall correctly.

Falling correctly is a huge part of preventing injuries. No matter how much we try to avoid falling, it’s going to happen one way or another. It’s a part of skiing or snowboarding and it’s something we can’t prevent.

Since we can’t avoid falling, we need to look at how to lower our chances of injury by learning the safest ways to fall.

How to fall safely – different techniques for different falls

1) Falling Forward

Never reach your palms out in front of you while falling forward. Instead, use your forearms to break your fall. Look at the picture below. That’s how you want to be positioned.

Reaching your palms forward is probably the most common mistake in falling and it results in broken wrists. You want to absorb the impact with your entire forearm instead of landing on your wrists.

Falling Forward

2) Falling Backwards

Don’t stick your arms out behind you. Sticking arms out is always just setting yourself up for a broken or dislocated arm.

Instead, try to turn your body slightly and absorb as much of the impact as you can with your whole body while keeping your arms in a braced position at your sides. Notice in the photo below that again I try to keep my wrists and palms away from impact.

falling backwards

Advanced Fall Technique – Freestyle & Jumps

1) Coming up short on a jump – straight airs

If you’re coming up short on a jump (assuming you’re just doing a straight air), don’t try to absorb everything with just your knees… I know this because that’s exactly how I tore my ACL ligament. Don’t try to stay on your feet unless it’s a tiny jump.

The safest method is to try to absorb what you can with your knees and legs, similar to a spring, then continue the fall and hit the deck. Just take what you can with your knees, then let gravity do it’s thing and continue falling.

Trust me, you’d much rather get bruised up and tweak your back instead of tearing your ACL and needing major knee surgery. Even broken bones can be a better option than tearing knee ligaments.

4) Uh-oh, I’m falling and all I can see is sky

Okay. This is not an ideal, but it happens sometimes when things go really wrong. Try to twist your body to see where the ground is.

If you can see the ground, try to twist and land as flat as you can with your forearms braced against your body.

If you can’t see the ground or can’t twist in time, relax and bring your arms in towards your body. Your body will absorb the impact as best it can and by keeping your arms towards your body, you make sure you don’t land awkwardly on them.

Final thoughts

Falling safely and correctly takes time to learn. For example, you won’t be able to instantly tell your body to stop putting your hands out. It’s a reflex to keep your body safe. You just have to keep these techniques in mind and keep reminding yourself to stop your old habits. It’s not something that will happen overnight, but after awhile, it’ll start to stick in your head.

Also, remember that if you don’t have time to twist or react properly, your best bet is relaxing and going with the fall. Oh, and wear a helmet!

ps – Yes, these photos were taken in my kitchen ;)

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