The Science of Falling

When we fall, our natural instinct is to put out our arms to take the impact. By doing this we protect ourselves from a potentially life-threatening
head injury.

As we extend our arms we instinctively cock back our wrists.

This allows us to take the impact on the lower part of the hand. This area is broader which spreads the load, and is padded with muscle and other soft tissue which helps absorb the impact. It also avoids landing on the fingers which are more easily broken.

Our hand normally cocks back as we fall so that when we land, our forearm is at about 79 degrees to the ground.

The end of the radius (the large bone in the forearm), instead of being at a right angle, as you might expect, is actually tipped forward by an extra 11 degrees. This means that on impact the face at the end of the radius is parallel to the ground. This is the optimum position to maximise the surface area that takes the impact and so to minimise the peak forces through the radius and avoid damage.

The problem comes when the peak forces generated by the impact are too much for our bone structure. This may be because we have fallen from a great height, because we are travelling at speed, for instance on a snowboard, because we have hit a particularly hard surface, such as ice, or because our bones are less dense due to the natural ageing process.

Any of these can mean the peak forces are too great for our bone structure, and something will break – typically the end of the radius bone in a Colles’ fracture.

The Giddins Guard protects you from injury by using your body’s natural defences at the point of impact. Without a rigid brace you can cock your hand back in to the optimum position for shock absorbtion. The hard shell of the Giddins Guard spreads the impact and the foam layer absorbs the shock, both of which reduce the peak forces generated by a fall.

Research suggests that in up to 85% of falls that would have resulted in a fracture, the Giddins Guard will reduce the peak forces sufficiently to prevent a break. In more severe falls or in people with very brittle bones, when injury does occur it is likely to be less serious due to the reduction in peak forces by the Giddins Guard.