Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I spent some time researching falls related to MS today.  The statistics are crazy!  What you see depends on what you read, but falls (causes and prevention) is a major topic of discussion within the MS community.

I am in the category of several falls per year.  It's likely that 65% of MSers have fallen at least once in the past year.  Many suffer multiple falls in that same time span.

For excellent information on falls and fall prevention, please read: Mnimizing-Your-Risk-of-Falls.pdf

My falls are mostly the tripping type.  My left foot catches something higher than level like the sidewalk, a stone or a tree root.  From there, it is an unpredictable fall to the ground.  My falls are usually forward, but backward falls are quite common.  When I practice a yoga squat, I am amused by the occurrence of a gradual, but almost certain, tip backward onto my butt.  I can't quite balance in that position!

I decided it was time to learn more about HOW to fall.  I work a lot on improving strength and balance, but the lack of feeling combined with visual impairment just inevitably leads to tumbles.  So, when I do fall, I would like to know how to improve the odds that I do not hit my head or break any bones.

I enlisted a friend who is a karate instructor and personal trainer.  Please, don't hesitate to seek out someone who knows more than you when you have something to learn!  She was a wonderful resource and got others, including her husband, involved in teaching me a few techniques.

First,  the karate studio was an excellent place to learn.  The floors are padded and have additional mats available for practice.  See if a local studio will work with you.  I'm not necessarily suggesting that you take karate classes, but you may be able to connect with an instructor that will review falling techniques in a one-on-one environment.

We started by learning to fall backward and progressed to falling forward.  We started in a seated position for falling backward and then moved to squatting.  Starting low-to-the-ground was important for me, because I lacked the confidence to otherwise let myself go.  The major things I learned were to:

  • tightly tuck the chin into the chest (to minimize risk of head impact)
  • throw the arms out to the sides to absorb the majority of the impact
  • roll on a curved back
Falling forward was harder.  I started from a kneeling position.
  • again, chin tucked into chest
  • reach one arm across the chest and opposite shoulder
  • roll forward onto the mid-back over the tucked shoulder
  • continue the forward roll
Again, find a karate (or other martial arts) instructor to go over this with you.  It takes some guts to try, but it does get easier after a few practice sessions.  

Warning!  When doing the forward rolls, I had to endure a high level of vertigo.  Going through that motion left me quite dizzy for more than a few seconds.  The dizziness decreased after several sessions, but never totally went away.  

Interested in more information?  Comment below, and I'll happily respond with more detail.  
Additional suggestons? Would love to hear them!!  Comment!!!!

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