How Hollywood Stunt Performers Fall without Breaking Themselves

How Hollywood Stunt Performers Fall without Breaking Themselves

“Everyone falls at some point,” says stuntwoman and Rough Around The Edges trainer Amy Johnston. Of course, while the rest of us are slipping off curbs, eating it on dance floors, or tumbling while texting, Amy and her ilk are crashing through skylights and getting dropped by roundhouse kicks.

Ever wonder how Hollywood’s most fearless performers keep from shattering upon dozens of daily impacts? Johnston shares with us the stunt professional’s perspective on how to fall with minimal injury.

 

The Fall-osophy of Falling

There are principles that stunt pros have to beat into their heads so gravity doesn’t do it for them. When a part calls for falling, here’s how Johnston keeps from falling apart.

1. Tuck the chin

“Hitting your head is a real danger, especially when falling backward,” says Johnston. Bringing the chin to the chest during backward falls minimizes the risk to the head. Rolling backward instead of falling flat is also key.

2. Aim for the meat

“Avoid hitting the floor with joints or bones,” says Johnston. “Instead, land on softer areas, such as the butt, thighs, and meaty parts of the shoulders.” Those fleshy areas can better absorb the impact.

3. Stay relaxed

Tensing up increases the risk of injury during a fall, because it concentrates the force of impact instead of dispersing it. “I try to soften into the fall,” says Johnston. It’s easier said than done, but it can mean the difference between walking away from a fall and being carried off on a stretcher.

4. Go with it

Injuries resulting from falling onto an outstretched hand are so common that ER docs have an acronym for them: FOOSHInstead of trying to stop a fall short, Johnston says, “I allow momentum to carry me forward, [rolling] like I’m trying to become one with the ground. That disperses the impact and reduces the chance of injury.”

 

Rough Around The Edges is Openfit’s intense, results-driven training program led by a team of professional stuntwomen. Click here to learn more!

Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

About

Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, GCFP is a fitness coach, Feldenkrais practitioner, and an award-winning health and fitness writer. His work appears regularly in Men's Health and Experience Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Learn more at andrewheffernan.com