How To Fall When Running (Here, Let Me Demonstrate)

How to fall while running

Whelp, it finally happened: I took a fall on the boardwalk.

HOW I FELL WHILE RUNNING

The boardwalk in question lines a portion of my route through Piñones, part of my usual long-run route. It is not well-maintained as far as missing boards and uneven bits of wood go, but I’ve been running on it for a good two years now, I generally pay close attention to my feet anyway, and my track record up until now has been pristine.

Pinones boardwalk

In my defense, my poor attention span my not have been wholly to blame. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what happened; I don’t actively remember how I lost my footing. But we had just had a solid 48 hours of torrential rain in Puerto Rico, and the boardwalk was SOAKED. Maybe I slipped? At any rate, I went DOWN.

How to fall while running

And yet, miraculously, I came out of the experience with barely a scratch. That same slick surface that helped take me down saved me: the wood was so saturated that when I fell I slid about an inch and that was it. No splinters, no blood. Not even a hole in my pants. Hooray for heavy rainfall!

A couple other factors, be they instinct or luck, played a part in keeping this incident from turning into a major disaster, and I will enumerate them now:

• I managed to get one more footfall in after my initial misstep, which meant that instead of going directly from upright to prone, I only really fell from a foot or so.

• I rolled to the side as I went down, the brunt of the force landing on my butt and thigh, some of my more padded areas. You know what they say: more cushion for the prevention of bodily harm.

• Usually I wear running shorts, but on this particular morning I had on full tights. This was to help my KT Tape keep its grip on my skin.

• Which leads me to my final point, which is that I’ve been wearing KT Tape to support my IT band, the configuration of which covers much of my knee. The only major rip I found was in my KT Tape, not my skin. Truly it has many uses!

Ultimately I came away from the experience with a few friction burns and little else. I popped back up and ran 4 more miles.

Pinones boardwalk in the rain

But it got me to thinking: surely there must be techniques for how best to fall when running to minimize potential injury. Not how to prevent the fall, but what to do when it happens. So I did some research.

I thought it might be nice to collect what I found here on the off chance something similar should befall you in the future. After all, if your life is flashing before your eyes, you’ll get to the part where you read this post eventually.

HOW TO FALL WHILE RUNNING

First off, I would be remiss if I didn’t say there are numerous videos that visually explain how to fall during a run, if that’s more your learning style. Unfortunately my reaction to any sort of instructional video is to frantically check for said instructions written out in the video description (apparently this is an ADHD thing?) so we’ll be sticking with the written word here.

Runner’s World magazine is a good start. Among other things, they recommend rolling to the side and keeping as much of the impact centered on your core as possible.

Outside partnered with pro trail runner Max King for his falling tips. He suggests keeping it loose and trying to divert your fall onto a softer patch of ground if you can.

Ultrunr crowdsources ideas. Apparently you shouldn’t tuck and roll on a rough trail? And don’t try to catch your fall – if you’re falling backward. If you’re falling forward, you might be able to soften the blow if your hands and arms hit first. Not hitting your head is a big one.

Ragnar Relay has a whole PDF on the subject. Sometimes it’s better to just fall, it points out, as any efforts to catch yourself may make things worse. (Oops.)

Of course, as is so often the case: it depends. One thing you may notice if you click that Ultrunr link is that many of the runners disagree with each other on the best techniques. Everyone is different, and everyone’s experience is different. Basically what I’m trying to say is that if you fall and using something you read here doesn’t help, it’s not my fault. 😂

But also: trust your instincts. You may come out with some scrapes and bruises, but odds are you’re gonna be okay. As they say, if not for the rain, where would we get our rainbows?

Isla Verde rainbow

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

2 Comments

  1. Well I’m glad you came out pretty unscathed! I can tell you how NOT to fall, given my personal experience. Which is falling during a race and hitting my chin directly into concrete and ending up in the hospital rather than at the finish line. Do not recommend.

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