Recently, I saw a video highlighting some great things in the dog agility world. It also highlighted some of the amazing feats our dogs’ bodies and our human bodies must endure to play this game. At the time I was inspired to write a blog post about the importance of knowing HOW to fall. The very next day, while training my dog, we had a collision and I happened to have the camera rolling. Since I didn’t want to live through another “nudge” to write this post, I decided I would take the time now.
It happens. We fall sometimes. It would be ideal if we never fell, but the reality of any sport is that falls happen. Collisions happen. It’s important to prepare our bodies for these times. The better condition we (and our dogs are in), the better chance we have of avoiding injury when falls occur. But it’s not just about being strong and “fit”. It’s more than that. Balance, proprioception, kinesthetic awareness and falling technique all contribute to our ability to physically cope with a misstep or collision and come out injury free. Below is a response I posted for a student in my online Functional Fitness for Agility Handlers class regarding some visual challenges she faced. The same concepts apply to falls. Are you able to recover from a misstep or collision? Have you trained the nervous system to quickly respond to challenges and correct the body’s position in order to prevent injury.
“I put a lot of emphasis on neural demand. The nervous system is highly adaptable and often makes significant difference in performance (more so than general strength) so I expect you will find that you move with more ease, confidence and coordination by the end of class. Vision provides significant input for our kinesthetic awareness…our ability to coordinate motion and the body’s awareness of where it is in time and space. Proprioception is a piece of it. Think of proprioception as your internal system for information while kinethetic awareness integrates that proprioceptive input with visual, auditory, tactile and other sensory information. So, yes, your vision IS probably having an impact. In addition to wearing the corrective lenses whenever you are doing anything that requires coordination, you are going to need to rely even more on your other senses. That means being mindful with exercise and really feeling your movements. Pay attention to how exercises feel in your body as we move through this class.”
The goals of sport specific training and conditioning aren’t restricted to perfect execution of drills. What may be more important is learning to physically cope with the unpredictable nature of the sport.
In addition to a complete conditioning program, I feel it is important for people to learn HOW to fall. I have some informal videos here for you to view. What you will see as a common theme here is tucking and rolling. Anyone who has played volleyball was probably taught how to roll. Other sports utilize this technique as well (as you will see).
First, this is my impromptu contribution to the topic. I’m happy to say, I’m injury-free (my dog too).
This young lady does a great job of explaining and demonstrating the technique for a volleyball roll. Look familiar?
Lastly, I was impressed with this video for a dive roll. Should you find yourself flying forward, this can be a good skill to cushion impact.
No one needs to practice these skills a lot, but knowing how it feels to tuck and roll may save you from injury when a misstep or collision does occur. The most important component of any roll is to protect your head. Notice in each video the head goes to one side? In the videos above, you saw someone fall to the side, backward and forward. By moving your head to the side, you can roll over your shoulder protecting your head from impact. Remember to tuck and roll!
Safe and happy training!