How to Take a Fall

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Before Nick Powell was coordinating stunts for flicks like Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, and The Last Samurai, he was a stuntman himself. The 39-year-old Brit has set himself on fire, been thrown out of windows, and fallen out of moving cars. He has also jumped off 12-story buildings and 75-foot cliffs. Many of these stunts end the same way: with Powell hitting the ground and rolling to a stop unharmed. Here, Powell adapts his techniques to help you survive those inevitable real-life tumbles – like dropping from a ledge off-trail, or getting shoved off a train platform. So pay attention, because, as Powell says, "You can't put a crash mat down in everyday life. You won't be wearing knee pads."

Regardless of how you got there, let's assume you're in the air and have some forward momentum. The most important thing is to keep your hands out. They'll help you find your balance and keep your body upright. Think of a tightrope walker using a balance bar.

Prepare for Landing
Your momentum will keep you moving when you hit the ground, so if you don't decide now which direction you want to roll, you'll probably smash your face in. Keep your body relaxed, and just before you land move your arms out in front of you. If your arms are at your sides while you're rolling, you're going to hurt yourself. An elbow can crack a rib.


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Absorb the Shock
If you favor your left side, as I do, you should land with your left foot slightly forward. Bend your knees to absorb as much momentum as you can through them. If you're stiff in the knees you can do a lot of damage.

Drop and Roll
When your knees buckle, roll onto the hip of your leading leg while pushing that shoulder forward, toward the ground, and tucking your head into your chest.

Spread it Out
Take the roll on as many points along that side of the body as possible: the thigh, hip, ribs, arm, and shoulder. That will spread the load out and spare you from injury. And it'll be a little less painful. 

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