When I ride a fast unicycle such as a geared 36", the fear of falling is always in the back of my mind. My speed is limited more by that fear than by what I can physically muster. Having protection helps, so I ride with helmet, knee pads, gloves, and elbow pads. I don’t fall often, and if I do (at a speed too high to run out), I usually do a shoulder roll and come off reasonably unscathed. But sometimes I crash without having it seen coming, and in such cases I don’t have enough time to get into a proper roll. Twice in the last half year, I bumped my shoulder on the pavement. Painful for at least a few days, and complete healing may take months. (That’s the age thing, folks.)
After all this introduction, now to the solution, hopefully. I went to a big motorbike store and bought a pair of shoulder pads. The first two pictures show the inside and outside of one. Using thin cotton from an old bed sheet, I sewed two pockets on each side on the inside of a regular cycling shirt. I put the pad first in the bottom pocket, and then fiddle to get it in the top pocket as well. Initially I wanted to use velcro to close it, but a safety pin works just as well, and since the padding is soft on the inside, you don’t feel it anyways. See pic 3. The finished product looks like in the 4th picture.
I realise that these pads won’t do much to prevent clavicle failure (which is probably the biggest risk of falling on your shoulder). But then again I never broke any bone. I’m sure though they would help against non-bone-failure pain. Unfortunately (or is it?), I haven’t crashed while using these pads, at least not so fast that I needed to roll out. Still I can say they’ve helped me, because they give me more confidence to ride fast.