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Can what you do when you fall minimize your injuries?

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Can what you do when you fall minimize your injuries?

Old 01-13-21, 10:11 PM
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Can what you do when you fall minimize your injuries?

The last time I took a fall I was riding on concrete. And I did something that surprised me .
I didn't use either arm to try to break the fall. Instead, I took my arms and hugged myself with them. My upper body was one Big Ball.
When I hit the ground, I remember I rolled with the impact, instead of absorbing it.
I got up and there wasn't a single bruise on me, even though the fall had been a really hard one. The bike was scratched badly and my handlebar was out of position.
Later I thought about what happened. I'd like to think I had I had some type of special skill, maybe from playing football.
More likely, the instructions and reflexes that saved me were loaded into my brain randomly or a result of the Burger and Fries I had shared at Diary Queen with my daughter.
Can you train for a fall? I don't know.
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Old 01-13-21, 10:24 PM
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I've high-sided twice and low-sided three times. In a single instance of all-- which happened to be at the lowest speed-- I could tell what was going on. Every other time, between the proverbial blinks of an eye, I was on the ground. From +20mph to pavement... instantly.

So all my crashes have both feet still clipped in and both hands still on the bars. Sometimes, that means I'm a little sore the next day. Sometimes, the cracked ribs take about 4 months to stop barking at me. Maybe someone can learn to fall. I'd rather learn not to fall, but I apparently can't do that either.
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Old 01-13-21, 11:16 PM
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You got it. "Stay inside the bike," as they put it in a winter biking thread. Hands on the bars, feet clipped in, try to distribute the hit over the whole side of your body, that is if your reflexes are that fast. I've only had some foreknowledge when I've taken myself down in order to slide into an object rather than T-bone it. When it's unexpected, it's been so fast that my hands were on the bars anyway. Scrub the rash until perfectly clean, then Povidone, then Tegaderm or a hydrocolloid bandage. I saw a video where they're teaching bike cops to fall on pavement, slow speeds. I guess if you're doing that job, you're going to go down once in a while.
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Old 01-14-21, 06:36 AM
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I took up single track dirt bike riding in my fifties and crashed lots, trying to keep up with my son. Skills learned included staying on the bike until hitting the ground and then letting go. Practice made perfect.

in my late 60ís, I now ride single track on a mtb with my son. Still biff lots. I use the same technique. When falling, donít react, just let it happen. Some might call it slow reflexes.....

Haven't crashed on tarmac in a while and hope to not react next time it happens, which it will, since I street ride around 175 miles a week.

Itís serious stuff for sure. My wife crashed near our house at low speed 5 weeks ago. She put out her hand trying to break her fall into a ditch. She shattered her wrist and has a titanium plate and 7 screws holding things together and has a minimum of 4 more weeks to go before the cast comes off. She is not enjoying the unpaid time off work.
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Old 01-14-21, 08:53 AM
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Take up a martial art. You'll learn how to fall, and it'll become instinctive. It wont prevent you from getting hurt, but its the difference between a few bruises and a trip to the ER.
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Old 01-14-21, 08:58 AM
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you can slow down
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Old 01-14-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
you can slow down
Slow falls are the worst. See post 4. They give you too much time to react wrongly. Blam! is better. OTOH overcooking a turn and going off into the trees or into a stone wall or barrier is not good. When I was skiing downhill, I wouldn't ski a tree-lined course. There are so many ways to screw up. Maybe that's why I've always liked essentially unsafe sports.
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Old 01-14-21, 10:46 AM
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The serious crashes I have had offered ZERO time to respond. So even if I had the reflexes of a cat (and I surely don't), I'm not so sure a crash strategy would have helped.

BTW: There is evidence that the reason we have collarbones is to absorb some of the impact from falls that would otherwise be absorbed by our ribs, neck, and skull. Collarbones generally heal well, and by themselves.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2...h=27299d2af38b
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Old 01-14-21, 11:27 AM
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I took a nasty fall over the summer, and for some reason, did not reach out with my arm to break the fall, which was lucky. because instead of a broken collarbone, wrist or elbow, all I had was sore ribs, a nasty bruise on my hip and thigh, and an ugly case of road rash on my forearm that left a scar. Since falls happen rarely for me, like once in 15 years, I don't see that there is a way to train for them.
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Old 01-14-21, 11:39 AM
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2 out my three wrecks at 20 plus mph were nothing. The other was something, but I'll never know as amnesia and no witnesses leave me at loss to say why I wrecked. The only difference from that wreck and the other two was that evidently I landed on my head first. The other two I landed on my side and in general, stayed with the bike for much of brief time it took to come to a stop. One I landed more on my upper arm and that was the least issue for me with just slight soreness for a few days. The other I landed on my upper leg and hip first. That took a week of soreness to get over. The one wreck I can't remember, while only in the hospital a day, took me five months to feel like things around me weren't surrealistic and that I was fully cognizant again..

Certainly I feel not trying to break your fall with your outstretched arm or arms is important. As well I think staying attached to the bike helps. And yes, I also think that low speed crashes might be the worst, though I can't remember if I ever had a low speed crash other than the few times I felt like a tree being fell in the woods when I found myself stopped but not unclipped. I those instances I kept my hands on the handlebars and let my lower leg hit first and spread the force by continuing the roll to my upper leg and side of body. No damage, get up, clip in and ride off.

Thinking about and discussing what you are going to do in falls well before you have them is probably the best defense.

Last edited by Iride01; 01-14-21 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 01-14-21, 12:05 PM
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I agree. As a kid I played a lot of sports that involved going to the ground (baseball, football, rugby), and that muscle memory has served me well. Stay compact, donít extend your hand, keep your hands on the bars if possible.
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Old 01-14-21, 12:20 PM
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Can what you do when you Fall minimize your injuries?

Rub it and cry.
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Old 01-14-21, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Slow falls are the worst. See post 4. They give you too much time to react wrongly. Blam! is better. OTOH overcooking a turn and going off into the trees or into a stone wall or barrier is not good. When I was skiing downhill, I wouldn't ski a tree-lined course. There are so many ways to screw up. Maybe that's why I've always liked essentially unsafe sports.
worse for the ego agree, but what injuries have you had on low speed crashes?
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Old 01-14-21, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
2 out my three wrecks at 20 plus mph were nothing. The other was something, but I'll never know as amnesia and no witnesses leave me at loss to say why I wrecked. The only difference from that wreck and the other two was that evidently I landed on my head first. The other two I landed on my side and in general, stayed with the bike for much of brief time it took to come to a stop. One I landed more on my upper arm and that was the least issue for me with just slight soreness for a few days. The other I landed on my upper leg and hip first. That took a week of soreness to get over. The one wreck I can't remember, while only in the hospital a day, took me five months to feel like things around me weren't surrealistic and that I was fully cognizant again..

Certainly I feel not trying to break your fall with your outstretched arm or arms is important. As well I think staying attached to the bike helps. And yes, I also think that low speed crashes might be the worst, though I can't remember if I ever had a low speed crash other than the few times I felt like a tree being fell in the woods when I found myself stopped but not unclipped. I those instances I kept my hands on the handlebars and let my lower leg hit first and spread the force by continuing the roll to my upper leg and side of body. No damage, get up, clip in and ride off.

Thinking about and discussing what you are going to do in falls well before you have them is probably the best defense.
That last sentence: I do think one can preprogram. When one says they learned how to fall from falling, that's preprograming. I don't think it's necessary to hit the ground to program one's reflexes. There are "mirror neurons." I wonder if this is similar.
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Old 01-14-21, 02:03 PM
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I agree with Skidder in post #6. Long ago as a young man I did judo for a short time. The very first lesson on the very first day was learning to fall and believe me, at first you fall or are thrown about often. True, there is a mat on the floor but if you are thrown 10 time in one day you will be glad of the mat.
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Old 01-15-21, 07:14 PM
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In a low speed fall I might hang on to the handlebars and use them to absorb the impact. If I'm moving along and crash I try to go into a tuck and roll and try to roll my way to a stop rather than having an abrupt stop.
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Old 01-17-21, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
Take up a martial art. You'll learn how to fall, and it'll become instinctive. It wont prevent you from getting hurt, but its the difference between a few bruises and a trip to the ER.
This!
Summer Judo lessons as an elementary school kid for sure saved me from multiple broken bones, and not just on the bike.

50+is a little late to start learning by getting thrown around though, even with mats.
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Old 01-17-21, 11:37 PM
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I was in marital arts for years and boxed amateur until my early 20s. That was 40 years ago. Few of those skills and reflexes survived to my 60s. Now when I fall or am hit, things break.

There's little or nothing we can do to influence the way we fall at speed. It happens too quickly. Watch pro cyclists in their primes and peak of ability to react quickly. At speed most of them fall like sacks of potatoes or go over the bars. The only exceptions are slide-outs on curves, especially in time trials.

And a few exceptional athletes like Peter Sagan have almost superhuman reflexes and defensive maneuvers. But he learned that young with mountain biking. We're too old to adapt if we didn't start young.

With practice and a clear head we might be able to affect the way we fall at a stop sign, or traveling 5 mph or slower. But as speed increases, forget it. If we happen to land well and with minimal injuries, chalk it up to luck, no skill or reflexes.

A year ago I was ticketed for a slow rolling right turn at a 4-way stop sign. No traffic around other than the cop who'd been shadowing me for a mile (which I discovered later when reviewing my video). He was waiting for me to make a mistake. I'd come to full stops at three intersections before, because those involved rolling straight through. But this final intersection was at the crest of a hill, facing uphill. That's PITA to regain momentum on a bike, especially clipped in, so I usually slow rolled that right turn.

After paying almost $300, I decided to full stop at every intersection in that ticket-trap little town. Turns out it was good for my balance. I had come to depend on the "Idaho Stop" style, slow rolling through intersections where there was no traffic (I *never* just roll and go through intersections with competing traffic and never assume a driver will yield to me).

Now I'm much more comfortable briefly track-standing at stops, and unclipping with either foot.

So try lots of practice. Pick a quiet neighborhood and full stop every intersection. Track stand at a full stop briefly, then go. Or if you're uncomfortable with that at first, practice unclipping and setting down first one foot, then the other. Works fine with platform pedals too, no foot retention. Pretty soon your balance and confidence will improve.

But falling at speed? Forget it. We're at the mercy of luck.

Last edited by canklecat; 01-17-21 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 01-18-21, 04:43 AM
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Everybody has a plan until they get hit. - Mike Tyson
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Old 01-18-21, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Everybody has a plan until they get hit. - Mike Tyson
True, but I think we can all agree that trying to resist any temptation to outstretch an arm is a good idea. (I have a since-healed Colles' fracture of the radius to prove the fallacy of stretching out an arm to break a fall as a pedestrian. This was far more painful than the double fracture of the left clavicle I sustained in my only bicycle-motor vehicle crash.)
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Old 01-18-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Putting out an arm is a time honored way to break a collar bone, or worse. The one serious wreck I've had, there was no time to plan anything.
I had a backwards fall on an icy sidewalk a few years ago and tried to use my arm to break the fall. I kept my head from hitting the concrete, but I also broke my wrist - a Colles fracture. Had surgery to set it and put in a plate, 3 weeks for the bones to heal and 12 weeks PT to restore the freedom of motion, and started retirement after going back to work. It wasn't just a fall!
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Old 01-18-21, 08:04 PM
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Like others I’ve hit the ground a lot playing other sports so most of the time it hasn’t been an issue. But falls and injuries can happen so quickly in spite of trying to avoid it. I thought I’d done everything correctly on my worst crash. I stayed inside the bike and rode it to the ground. I avoided putting out an arm and even tried to hold my head up to avoid it crashing against the pavement. However the bike got sideways off the ground, and my right hip took the brunt of the fall. It felt like I hit and bounced instead of hitting and sliding. The blow to my hip was hard enough to completely break and dislocate the ball on the femur neck. Oh well.

I have some NASCAR drivers in my neighborhood and they’re taught how to react in a crash. Like some of you have said they tuck and ball up and “roll”. Think about a car going airborne and rolling over alongside track.
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Old 01-19-21, 12:16 AM
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How to fall off a bike and not get hurt: https://blog.mapmyrun.com/fall-off-bike-not-get-hurt/
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Old 01-19-21, 08:09 PM
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I don't really plan the land. My last was on a MTB when I clipped my bars on a fast descent. Time stood still as I wrestled a sideways bike, with that slow and low "NOOOOO" like in the movies. I hit the trail with the grace of dropped groceries, while trying to stand up at the same time. Something like that, but whatever it was didn't work. So afterward I just laid there in the scrub, absolutely convinced it had to be poison ivy; because why wouldn't it be? In the end, I just hurt my knee a little; a few cuts, a totally jammed-up bottom bracket & one broken brake lever.
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Old 01-20-21, 04:18 PM
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Pray (really fast).
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