Here we go again, welcome to another round of “I have so much stuff to do for university that I start writing forum posts in an attempt to start an interesting discussion.” Today: Falling.
We all know that falling is a big part of learning how to unicycle, and improving your skills. It doesn’t matter if you are learning how to wheel walk, trying to improve your side hops, or trying more difficult trails, you are always going to fall, it’s just an essential part of unicycling.
We unicyclist probably fall more often then in any other sports, since we have a very small margin of error, caused by our very instable equipment. Luckily for us, the falls we take are usually very harmless. A unicycle simply isn’t in between us and the ground the way a bicycles handlebar is, most of the time our first ground contact is with our feet, and the comparatively slow speeds we are going make it easy to absorb the impact.
I have now done many kinds of unicycling (trials, street, flat, muni, freestyle, track racing) and I found the differences in falling techniques I adopted quite interesting.
In track racing, you almost always fall forward, because you were trying to go to fast. Depending on your speed, you either run out, or end up sliding on your knees. I haven’t seen many injuries there, aside from bruises, and quite painful scratches.
Freestyle and Flat are almost the same, you tend to fall in all directions equally, but usually you just step of your uni, and if not, there is usually no obstacles and quite a bit of space to roll if your falling unexpectedly or unlucky. Most injuries I see there are ankle related (more on that later).
Falling while doing street is usually a lot more high impact. If you are doing tricks of boxes or jumping stairs though, you’ll usually have a flat surface to do a proper roll or run out safely. Ankles are a weak point here again (even if you land the trick, sometimes). From my observations, the really bad slams happen on grinds. Sometimes you are just thrown off your uni in a weird way, and slam on the ground, usually pretty painfull to every part of your body.
Trials has it’s own unique way of falling. The second I know I’m falling (which tends to be well in advance), I try to spot a safe landing. Since there are usually obstacles everywhere around you,this can be quite difficult, but in contrast to other disciplines, you almost never carry much momentum, so quite often you are falling straight down.
Muni has a wide and beautiful collection of falls, ranging from the “Trail runner” over “Tree hugger” to you and your unicycle side by side, sliding down the hill. I consider Downhill the discipline where I am most likely to get injured, since you are quite fast, and your landing zone is often far less than ideal.
One thing I took away from these thoughts is: In order to push my unicycling, I will have to take falls. In order to take falls without injuries, I have to be strong. The two areas I focus on are: ankles and core. Falling is often a whole body exercise, but I feel like ankles are a very common weakness, and if your core is weak, even the strongest extremities are not going to help you. I haven’t really got a set routine, for my core I usually use sling training, for ankles I do a variety of jumps (starting and ending on my toes), and typical stability exercises like standing on the toes of one feet. Any other ones you recommend?