Any sport can be dangerous, especially when proper techniques are not taught. Remember teachers to teach your students to tuck their head forward toward the chest if they ever fall. If I didn’t tuck my head when I fell for the first time (and hopefully the last time) during silk training when I wrapped improperly for a drop, then I probably would have been paralyzed as well. Also it is good to ALWAYS train with a mat! Don’t allow yourself to get the attitude that you’ll never fall because you just never know. You could be the most skilled aerialist out there but if something is not rigged right, or something breaks, you’ll appreciate that mat a whole lot.
Its amazing how something so small can make such a difference. Tuck and roll on your shoulders.
I strongly suggest that you practice falling correctly in case you ever need it. Do it on a mat and don’t be too high up when you practice. Exhale when you land as well, holding your breath can cause you to get the wind knocked out of you.
You will usually fall in one of three directions. The least injury is caused when falling on your side. It reduces the impact placed on your limbs, including your neck. This is the best way to fall safely. If you find yourself unbalanced and falling to either side tuck your chin to your chest. Then bend your arm to your chest. As you continue to fall let your bottom leg straighten. Keep your top leg bent to reduce impact. Keep your chin tucked to your chest at all times. Just before you reach the ground straighten the tucked arm level to your body. This position will cause the least impact on your body. Practice this a few times daily until you feel you are doing it correctly.
The next direction we fall in is forwards. You may injure your neck or face if you do not know how to fall properly. The first thing to do is tuck your chin to the bottom of your neck. Hold this throughout the fall.
Then place both arms up at a ninety degree angle. They will absorb any impact that would injure your face. Then fall straight forward onto your torso. You may bend your knees but only slightly. You do not want any joint to absorb impact. Keep in mind if you fall on ice you may still suffer minor cuts and trauma. These falls should be practiced on a soft surface.
The last way to fall is straight onto your back. The most important thing is to always keep your chin tucked to your chest. The neck is one of the easiest injured body parts. It only takes ten pounds of force to cause fracture. You will also want to bend both arms onto your chest. Bend your knees if possible and let yourself fall back. At the point of impact let you arms loose to the side but even with your body.
Remember the key to success is practice. You will not be able to react properly without training your body for these situations. Never use an arm to prevent your fall. Always keep your chin tucked to your chest. In closing, do not be afraid of practicing these techniques. Falling is generally safe if done with the proper knowledge.
Below is a video of Alice Vardanian and partner falling off a lyra. They do a good job of recuperating and keeping it cool. Below that is a reminder from Rain Anya about prevention in falling – which is just as important.
Analysis from Rain Anya:
“Note in the video that the base did not have a solid knee hang in the first place and therefor should not have been basing from knees. The angle of his knees over the bar had absolutely 0 safety margin, and the feet were crossed and slightly curled which is a common habit people use when they feel they have to “clutch the bar.” The reason I mention this is because when discussing the safety of aerial skills, it’s my opinion that the majority of what we can do to avoid accidental injury is in the PREVENTION of the accident occurring with proper training, progressions, discretion, and caution… Although the ability to fall functionally is also helpful, many times the ability to control where and how you land has so many variables and can range immensely depending on what position and height you a falling from. Even in the video that was shown as an example, the woman who was flying did not have enough time to rotate for the “tuck and roll” technique or that is described in the article. She falls face to floor and cannot tuck her chin, and since her partner is holding on to her hands she also cannot do the hands out at 90 degrees technique described either. ”
Many thanks to Hope Banrion for her contribution of this article about falling safely. Hope runs Aerial Empowerment, a provider of safe and custom aerial equipment for your performing needs.