Question of the Week: Could Martial Arts Training Help Prevent Fractures?

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide


    Recently there have been stories in the news about martial arts fall training to prevent fractures and we'd like to hear what you think about this.  Does this sound like something that is feasible?  Let us know.


    A study of healthy volunteers suggests that teaching elderly patients how to fall may help them avoid bone fractures.


    For obvious reasons the study used healthy individuals trained in martial arts to study the impact of the fall and how much force was involved which was measured with a device called a force platform...similar to a weighing machine.  A thick mattress was positioned in front of the participants, so they weren't falling onto a hard surface. 

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    This new theory sounds promising for those with bone loss if the training employs safety features, like padding of the hips.  They also compared falls from a kneeling and standing position.  The falls from a standing position did not meet the necessary safety precautions but falls from a kneeling position did.  Scientist from BMC research, claim if you turn a fall into a rolling tumble with your spine and neck bent and twisted forward you could land on a thick mattress without injury.  The theory is if you can learn how to do this, then you would be able to incorporate what you've learned into an actual fall on a hard surface, using the technique.


    After reading this description, I wondered how safe it would be to put your body into that forward bending position since we've always been told not to do that with any exercise for osteoporosis since it puts too much stress on the vertebral bones of the spine and neck.  Also, wouldn't we have to worry about other types of injuries if we have osteoporosis, like neck, head, and limb injuries?  Another problem is the mattress.  If we fall, unfortunately it wouldn't be onto a thick mattress, but for the propose of learning the technique they would have to use these safety measures and then try to incorporate what they learned into real life situations.


    Healthy trained individuals would be able to withstand more force than those who have bone loss, so they calculated this into a feasibility study to see how much force osteoporotic bone could withstand with each fall without resulting in a fracture.


    The results of the study showed that martial arts fall training could be beneficial for those with osteoporosis to reduce hip fractures if the training employed the necessary safety precautions.



    • What do you think of this? 
    • Have you ever trained in this way to learn how to fall? 
    • Do you think this is a good thing to learn to prevent fractures?






    BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:111 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-111 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-111


Published On: April 25, 2010