How to Stroll Away from a Fall

Bad fall

Keep your head up ... when you stand back up.     Photo: Ralph Unden/Flickr

Riding the ragged edge of your skill level is key if you want to break through in any sport, so brutal endoes, yard sales, and whippers are de rigueur. Soften those blows with a little preemptive TLC from the experts:

Most MOUNTAIN-BIKING falls occur at slow speeds, says former world champion (and eternal badass) Ned Overend, and appropriate pedal tension will help you unclip before stalling out. Going ass over teakettle? "Put your hands out," he says. "As soon as they touch ground, recoil your arms, tuck to one side—whichever is more comfortable—and roll across your back to avoid any jolting impact to your outstretched arms or shoulders."

A hyperextended thumb is a nasty SKIING injury, but a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a real nightmare, says Dr. Kevin Plancher, an official surgeon for the U.S. ski and snowboard teams. Prevent these common boo-boos by closing your fists and sitting into a fall, which can save your knees from hyperextension.

To weather a roped-lead fall while CLIMBING, keep your arms free and make sure you don't get inverted by tangling the rope around your legs, advises Don Mellor, author of 2001's American Rock. Use your hands to protect yourself from outcrops, but be wary of pushing off the face of a cliff; the more you push, the more, and harder, you'll swing back.

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