September 16, 2021

Falling Techniques in Bouldering (So You WON’T Get Injured)

by Brad

On a closer look, bouldering is risky and much different when compared to other types of climbing.

There is no rope or harness to hold you when falling. 

So you have to prepare to hit the ground each time you fall.

Generally, climbing with no ropes is dangerous. 

However, from a different angle, missing ropes are the simplicity of bouldering, making it an excellent climbing sport.

You typically won’t go to greater heights. 

But that doesn’t guarantee any injuries.

Even when the fall distance is short, you can hit the pads badly and injure yourself.

Knowing the falling techniques in bouldering will help you avoid injuries.

You also have to feel comfortable when falling on the pads. 

There are ways or techniques of mitigating the above risks that you should incorporate into your repertoire.


Table of Contents
Falling Techniques in Bouldering
Falling Techniques in Bouldering

Many enter the climbing field by starting bouldering because it is easier than most other types of climbing fields.

There is no need for complicated equipment in the bouldering.

You can rely on the mattresses and falling techniques in bouldering to protect yourself from fatal falls.

Most falls in bouldering will give you minor injuries if you do not learn about the falling methods.

Learning these techniques can increase your bouldering skills by giving you climbing confidence.

It is crucial to find some aspects of bouldering to ensure your safety.

Some of these aspects are on this list.

  1. The accurate techniques to fall
  2. Accurate arrangement of the bouldering pads
  3. Identification of the issues with the boulders
  4. Landing zone customization

How to Safely Fall when Bouldering?

Even most experts believe you can use a different method to avoid injury every fall.

Many bouldering experts may put their bodies in irregular positions during falling.

It is due to several experiences of falling from the bouldering walls.

You do not need to fall a hundred times to learn falling techniques in bouldering.

You can learn these techniques by setting systemic guidelines.

You can practice according to these guidelines to ensure every fall teaches you something about the falling technique.

There is no need to set a limit on you.

You can practice according to these guidelines in outdoor and indoor settings.

Things to Do Before You Climb

Many factors contribute to a successful fall before you touch the wall.

If there is adequate padding at gyms that offer roped climbing, patrons may be allowed boulders up to a specific height on roped climbs.

If you aren’t sure about the bouldering height, you can consult a staff member in your gym.

You should examine your bouldering problem’s path as well.

What is its origin? How far does it go? Do climbs intersect it?

Do you climb straight up, or do you traverse?

How can you avoid falling during the tough sections?

  • You can remove all the sharp objects from your pockets. Bouldering does not require sharp devices as climbers do not go to high altitudes. He can climb the bouldering wall without the sharp equipment. You may break your phone during bouldering. It is better to keep it aside during bouldering. It can also hinder your falling technique. You can also keep your wallet out of your pocket.
  • If you do not look down before falling, you may fall on someone. It may not feel troublesome as people fall on others without issues. It is not the same with the falling techniques because falling on someone increases your chances of injury. Small objects like water bottles and chalk bags can injure you when you fall.
  • You can check some places where you fall if the wall has a curve at a specific angle. You can check your falling area before you climb the bouldering wall. If you have built a landing zone somewhere else, you may suffer from injuries.
  • Having an experienced spotter can help you a lot with falling. You can tell your spotter about your climbing plan. It will help him identify the places where you might fall. You can also tell them where they need to move the pads when you are at a specific location on the climbing wall.

Falling is a part of bouldering, thus you need to learn the falling techniques in bouldering.

It is wise not to overlook this fact. It’s not just challenging moves on a climb that can cause you to fall. 

On a warm-up route, your foot could slip off hold, or you might lose your balance if the hold spins.

Climbing should thus be done with extreme caution.

Tailor Your Landing Methods to Each Type of Climb

  • You can start by practicing chin tucking toward your chest to prevent whiplash. You can keep your body in a position similar to climbing to fall on your back. It will absorb most of the falling force. You can think like a turtle in this situation.
  • When a climber uses intense force to reach the next boulder with body momentum, there are higher chances of falling. It is known as the dyno technique. You can keep your head toward one side to prevent neck injury. You can avoid falling on your hands and legs to prevent injury.
  • You can force the mat on one side during the fall to promote the rolling effect. It is better than falling on your stomach as it divides the force of the fall on all body. It helps you prevent injuries.

Bouldering Falls – the Basics 

1. Stay calm

Staying calm keeps your muscles flexible and helps avoid injuries in the case of a fall, which is easier to think off, but hard to execute. 

Having a calm mind will reduce the likelihood of positioning a hand or leg in a way that they can be broken.

2. Breathe slowly

Also, take deep breaths and remain focused on the moment.

Doing this will help you stay comfortable on the rock or in competition instead of thinking about how the moves below excited you up or how tough the ones ahead are. 

Therefore, taking a softer, less-grip approach to climbing will make you less likely to cause stiff-limbed landings.

What Are the Possible Risks when Falling?

Falls when several factors cause bouldering.

Among them is height: a fall from a higher height is more dangerous.

Whenever possible, downclimb to minimize risk.

Wouldn’t it be safer to fall from 12 feet rather than 15 feet?

To determine the best landing zone, one must descend to a comfortable height.

There could be clutter on your pad, such as chalk bags, bottles, and cell phones. 

In addition, your landing may be obstructed by an unattended person.

Therefore, a safety inspection may prevent both of you from experiencing an unlucky accident.

There is nothing such thing as a perfectly safe landing when it comes to bouldering. 

With bouldering’s gymnastic movements, our bodies are often in weird positions, so there is no single way of landing safely.

If you go bouldering outside or inside the house, here are a few guidelines to consider.

You Are Falling, Here Is What to Do while Falling

1. Get rid of extra weight

Do not carry jewelry, belts, or anything sharp or heavy in your own pockets, as these items could potentially cause injuries.

Ensure your landing zone is free of debris before pulling onto the wall, from water bottles to chalk bags to climbing partners

It would help if you kept your arms and legs elevated when falling from a low roof, so it seems like you are still holding onto the wall.

This way, your back can absorb the impact.

Avoid whiplash by tucking your chin into your chest.

2. Don’t struggle to grab objects when falling

Never grasp hold of another object when you peel off.

Just go with the fall and accept that you are falling. 

To keep your whole body engaged, you need to maintain a healthy balance between relaxing and slightly engaged.

To land safely, it is important to keep muscles active and soft at the same time.

3. Exercise calmness 

Getting too tense before impact is a recipe for injuries such as sprains, strains, and bone fractures. 

The powerful part of your body, your lower body, is made to absorb the most impact.

So you should do your best if you land with a large stance and bent, soft knees.

4. Do not land on your heels

Avoid landing on your heels, your feet, sides, or toes, but rather land straight on the pad. 

To prevent whiplash, a common injury for boulders, ensure your chin tucks in with your chest to engage well with your neck muscles.

And, do this often when you fall from a leveled path.

4. Don’t resist the momentum

New boulders tend to fall into the trap of landing by their feet and then standing up at the top. 

Instead, it’s advisable to roll into your sides, backs, or shoulders.

Allow yourself to fall, tuck and roll gently so that you do not resist motion.

5. On a dyno fall, make your neck more stable

Your body can be put into a frightening, face-down position when you fall from a Dyno.

In this case, turning your head one way to make the neck stable at the same time as keeping your hands and legs at an inclined position will prevent whiplash.

Should it be a hard landing, you will have to involve your core.

6. Engage your sides when landing 

Rather than twisting your hands up to your chest when landing on your back or even stomach, try slapping your pad to your sides when you land. 

This will assist you in offsetting the falling power by engaging your higher body parts to prevent them from flipping around and injuring you.

7. Do not engage your arms or hands when falling 

Be careful not to use your hands to stop yourself.

Remember, Injury to the upper extremity can occur when one lands on an outstretched arm or hand. 

Keep your arms high and close to your chest as you fall.

As such, you won’t bash them on obstacles on your way down if they are not in the way.

What is the Best Way to Arrange Bouldering Pads?

You can care about two aspects of the bouldering pads for safety improvement.

It is better to start by checking the quality of the land at the landing place.

You can also look for the quality and placement of the landing pads.

Some beginners place many cushion pads on the flat surface to make a better cushion.

It is not the best placement technique because you may roll from the edge.

It can make your landing worse.

Most climbers suffer injuries when they hit the ground between the pads.

You can avoid it by placing the pads with less space between them.

Thin pads can reduce your risk of injuries from the cracks as these pads work best on the cracks and take less space in the luggage.

All the things to think about

  • Avoid placing pads at some distance to prevent injury.
  • Check the position of the pads after falling, as falling can disturb the pad position.
  • Ensure that there are no large gaps under the blubber sheets. Sliding off the blubber sheet can increase the chances of injury.
  • You can choose between single or multiple pads depending on the situation of the land under them.

Should you spot or not?

You can ask someone to spot you if you are climbing in an outdoor setting.

It is not essential for the indoor setting as most areas have coverage from the cushioning pads.

You should not go outdoor climbing without a spotter if you plan to climb a wall more than a few feet high.

If the climber fears that his dynamic movements will force him to slip from the cushions, he can get help from a spotter.

You can ask someone to help you with spotting when there are not enough cushioning pads.

The most important things to think about when you’re spotting

  • A spotter can ensure the climber does not injure his head during the fall. He can also ensure the climber does not bounce off the pad’s surface. The climber should not hit his head after bouncing from the pads.
  • You can let the climber hit the pad once as it will absorb most falling force. You can intervene after that.
  • A spotter should always be ready to help the climber. Some may keep their arms open all the time when they are spotting.
  • Do not catch the climber when falling, as you can do it after he hits the pads once.
  • Spotting with the finger in an open position will damage the fingers.

How can you keep spotting safe for the spotter?

  • You can check the things behind you to avoid falling.
  • Communicate with the climber about his plan and your decisions.
  • Consider your size and the size of the climber. A spotter with a small size can keep the climber’s head safe.
  • You can tell about the things that can injure the climber during the climb as it will help each of you.

How to Do Highball Bouldering the Right Way?

Climbers can go to the height of many feet when doing highball bouldering.

You can watch the videos of different athletes as they climb the tallest walls of the world.

Spotters adjust the pads till the climbers reach a certain height.

All the spotters move away after that because they cannot save the climber from injury if he falls from a certain height.

The climber must use the best bouldering falling techniques to avoid injuries.

A tuck and roll will ensure that you fall without injury in the case of highball bouldering.

If the spotters come in the way of falling climbers, they risk the life of the climber and themselves.

Would you spot in gyms?

Most experts do not think you need a spotter when climbing in the gym.

The situation is usually perfect in the fully padded gym.

All gyms do not have padding on the entire floor.

The spotter can help the climber to fall safely if there is partial padding on the gym’s floor.

A spotter does not need to take all the weight of the falling climber as they can only push them lightly to fall on the safest part of the padding on the floor.

Can you customize landing zones when you are outside?

As landing zones situation affect climber safety, some suggest that you adjust the landing zone when climbing outside.

People do not recommend it indoors because these areas have a lot of padding.

You can do it for the outdoor settings.

You can do it by removing some rocks from the ground.

Some locations require restructuring before placing the landing pads.

You may have to cover the pits or remove the branches.

Some practical things to consider

  • Remove the branches and throw them at a distance to ensure the spotter has a place to move around.
  • Remove sharp objects from the ground to prevent hold formation in the pads.
  • Some saplings can also have sharp tips. These are harmful to the pads.

Some ethical to think about when you are customizing landing zones

  • You should only change the land if you are legally allowed.
  • It is better to avoid attracting negative attention as it is unsuitable for all climber communities.
  • You can change the ground structure minimally. It will help you prevent damage to nature.
  • You can also compare the urgency of the climbing with the effects on nature. If you have to do damage for a small wall climb, you can skip this area also. You can also consider the number of people climbing this wall. If no one is interested in it, damaging nature is not worth it.

Final Thoughts on Falling Techniques in Bouldering

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, in as much as bouldering seems risky and tough is an excellent climbing sport. 

However, the risks you may face are not to be overlooked.

It would be best if you were well prepped.

And that starts by learning and practicing the falling techniques in bouldering mentioned above.

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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