Anterior Shoulder Dislocation - help with falling correctly

Unfortunately I anteriorly dislocated my left shoulder by an unexpected fall. I landed with my arm outstretched to protect my face. Was on a very cold hard packed dirt trail.

Pain and a trip to the Emergency Room was next. Had it relocated and am on week 3 of rehab.

I’ll definitely be back on the MUNI by week 6 or 7 but am asking for advice for learning how to fall without the risk of dislocating the shoulder again. The joint capsule is compromised when a dislocation happens so the rotator cuff has to be the support.

How the heck to I train myself to fall without stretching out my arms?
Any advice would be appreciated.


Sorry to hear about your unfortunate accident. I dont think you can avoid the bad fall without putting out your arms to protect your face. I know when i do fall, towards face, my arms will be first to make contact with ground by automaticity. The wrist guard will only protect the wrist then the plastic guard is meant to slide so full brunt is not on the wrist, but Im afraid it won’t prevent a dislocated shoulder.
Before I headed to the steep risky hills I made sure i had my falls down. I practiced with thousands of falls. But Iam sure you just had a very unlucky fall. I hope for your speedy recovery.

As they say it isn’t the fall that hurts but the sudden stop.

One of the benefits of using wrist guards is the plastic brace exposed at the palm. If one does fall with the arm stretched out, it tends to slide along the road rather than grip, preventing the sudden stop and reducing the impact on the shoulder.

Can you do a somersault (forward roll)? What about the version when you jump in the air to do it? I fall a lot and I almost always roll with my head to the side like at the start of this video:

There I landed on my feet first but I do the same thing when I land on my arms first. I wear elbow pads, knee pads, and gloves and usually make contact with all three on a fall.

I once unicycled with a very intense, risk-taking rider who, at every severe UPD, did a full forward somersault or flip and recovered on her feet like nothing abnormal has just occurred. It was amazing. I asked where she had learned to land this way, and she said she’d done a form of martial arts for years.

Maybe taking a few martial arts classes that emphasize safe landings might help.

Yeah tuck and roll, excellent advise, great to practice on. It saved me from a lot of damage on several occasions. My reflex is pretty good from years of being grappled and tossed around in h.s. wrestling.:wink: But Im sure it can be practiced on a mat or carpeting.

Woohooo! Impressive tumble, more impressive is the dh riding! Awesome is the word.

Here’s a demonstration of a tuck and roll from youtube:
Learn the Parkour Roll - Assassins Creed Style - YouTube

I think UPD is right. You kind of have to use your arms.

My non-expert advice:

  • When you’re fully recovered, practice a bunch of these in the grass on foot (no unicycle) so that it becomes instinctive. Unlike parkour, in unicycling your tuck and roll is not going to be planned, so your body is gonna do what it does instinctively.
  • Make sure you’re exercising your upper body in some ways. Unicycling isn’t enough. You might not need strong upper body for riding, but perhaps for falling.

Still, I think you can be in great shape and know how to fall expertly but you’re never going to be 100% protected from an odd situation that causes you injury.

I hope your recovery goes well!

Something often overlooked is strength training. Get some dumbbells and work your shoulders. Playing football we concentrated on our shoulders to prevent dislocations and never had one.

In reality, you’ll never be able to not land with your hands every time.

One thing that can help with is visualization. You basically envision a situation and watch yourself doing exactly what you want to do in that situation. With repeated visualization, you’re more likely to do exactly what you visualized should a similar situation arise. It’s great because you can do it anywhere, anytime, without any risk to your body.

I credit this technique for walking away with nothing more than bruises after hitting a car at 25mph that turned in front of me. I had visualized the tuck and roll some after watching a guy do that on his mtn bike once, and based on my bruises, that’s exactly what I did, I tucked and rolled over the top of the car.

I think that this is a good idea.

I trained in aikido for a short while as a child. The falls that they teach, while not particularly intuitive, are easily internalized. Whenever I fall, I almost always roll. Unfortunately, some of our falls on a unicycle are almost straight down. I’m not sure that we can adequately prepare for these regardless of training; however, we can train ourselves to land safely the vast majority of the time.

I find pushups helpful against flat falls.


Thanks for the advise. I regularly strength train my upper body and core with body weight exercises and weights.
Tuck and roll training seems like what I need to work on to prevent another dislocation.

I’m not a muni rider, but I found out from this forum that a lot muni riders have long cranks, which gives you more control.

I hope your recovery is fast.

Adding to the martial arts recommendation: Judo / Jujutsu / Aikido (and maybe other “arts,” apparently nowadays also Parkour) all teach you very similar rolls to go with the forward momentum. It may take some time to get such a “forward break” roll sufficiently internalized, but yes, then it can reduce injuries. (Visualizing can help internalizing.)

In Judo / Jujutsu (and Aikido??) there’s also a technique to fall more or less straight forward / down, the forward break fall:
e.g., in this picture (and explained on the respective page)
or this picture (and resp. page)
Interestingly, you’re required to land on your forearms (as opposed to your hands). Not sure if that’s merely to protect your wrists… but I wouldn’t be surprised if it also helps protect your shoulders because if performed properly, you break your fall with your upper arms angled towards your lower body (as opposed to straight towards the ground); so you should change the angle in the shoulder socket.
The forward break fall is a “harder” fall than a forward break roll (because you stop the energy instead of going with it, as you’d usually try in Judo/Jujutsu/Aikido techniques). I wonder though if it could help unicyclists in situations when you can’t roll because you don’t have enough forward momentum nor enough “space” to transform your momentum from “downward” to “forward”. I don’t yet have own experiences with the forward break fall from a unicycle though. Anyone out there who has?

If you want to learn these falling techniques a) properly and b) without much risk of re-injuring your shoulder, I’d suggest practicing with a club or trainer because those techniques obviously work best when performed properly; and practicing them improperly poses some risk to the shoulder even for people without prior injuries.
Anyways, if you just want to search the internet, a good search item may be “ukemi”; it means something like “receiving attacks” etc., and is a term often used for falling exercises in Judo/Jujutsu/Aikido.

Some good comments here, especially rolling and strength training.

In many years of different many different sports, I seem to be pretty good at “saving” my falls on a bike or unicycle. There will always be those times when you suddenly and unexpectly fall, and you can probably never prevent all of these (here helps strength training and protective gear), but the large majority of falls can be anticipated, even if just for a slpit second, where you then can “fall nicely”. I had a nasty UPD on my 36er a while back when a big dog stopped in my path in attack mode. I hit the disc brake way to hard and flew immediatley to the ground. However, even though I flew forward I managed to roll a little to the side, so (with glves and knee pad), only had a minor bruise to my knee and a really dirty jersey under my arm and across my back where I rolled through the gravel.

I think a lot of the practicing is then not just the roll, but also anticipating… although I use my hands to shield my face inn a bad fall, I seem to always keep my arms close in. I think the “wrong” thing to do is to land with your arms out and extended, as this puts major forces on the shoulder and joints and is a recipe for injury (same as landing with your leg extended, which is way bad for the knees). In mountain biking I have been really good at bailing without injury (e.g. jump dismounts from skinnies over 1m from the ground), and with the unicylce also, although my injury problem with the unicycle is the frequent unexpected landing on uneven ground and the stress on the ankles (had a major twist a few months ago when I dismounted the 36 in XC riding where the rooty trail was covered in leaves and I dismounted on one foot directly onto a root that was about 5cm (2 inches) high, but totally hidden be of the leaves).

Not sure if this helps so much, but through practice the conscious “planning” becomes routine and almost instinct, and in the split second you decide: is this a controlled and “planned” fall with control, a semi-controlled fall, or a no-control fall, where you just try and curl up your limps and hit the ground, let the protecters take the brunt and then roll out. Oh, for me the protectors for the hands and knees are essential to this, as otherwise you try to protect these too, and in a bad fall you simply cannot protect everything.

So: wear protectors, practice falling and visualization and consciously “thinking” abiut falling so that it then becomes routine and instinctive.

I wish you a fast recovery and return to unicyclng.

Many Thanks

Thanks for all the comments.
Good advise and I cannot wait to get back to riding.