Any dude can fall off a wall, right? Yeah, but there are better and worse ways to do it.
Even in the gym with 12 inches of gymnastics foam under you, an extra bouldering pad, and an attentive spotter, it’s not uncommon for a falling boulderer to hit wrong and break a wrist or an ankle. To avoid disaster and being laid up on crutches or in a cast for 6 weeks, everyone needs to take some time to get better at falling well.
When you come off the wall up high, you’re going to have a lot of kinetic energy by the time you hit the ground. All that force needs to go somewhere. What you want is for it to get dispersed as much as possible and for all of your joints and limbs to take the least direct shock of it that you can manage.
One thing you can do is let your body fully collapse like an accordion when your feet hit the pad. Fold up your knees, your hips, and your back and make them loose as you hit the floor. This will help spread the impact over your whole body and keep a single part like your lower leg from absorbing more than it has to.
The fall you’re expecting rarely hurts you. Think about that move on your redpoint project where you are trying to smear off a tiny smeary foothold – you know you may not make it and transition from climbing to falling the moment you slip.
It’s when something unexpected happens that people get hurt. A foothold spins, and suddenly you’re sprawled on the floor with the wind knocked out of you, and your spotter apologizing.
One way to save your wrists and ankles, which are really vulnerable in these surprise falls, is to learn to hit the mat or pad (or cold hard ground) and roll in one continuous motion like the martial arts experts do. If you reach straight out and try to arrest your fall with your hand, your arm is going to take a tremendous dynamic load. If you can hit, bend the arm, shift your weight away and over the arm and go into a roll onto your shoulder, you can divert all this bone breaking energy into movement and spread it around. Get friends with martial arts or gymnastics training to coach you a bit. Go on, be a falling ninja.
Labels: climbing, tips