I fell from my trapeze a few days ago.
I was performing a relatively simple move so I was really shocked to find myself slipping out of my hold. I still don’t really know exactly what happened but I was upside down and all of a sudden I lost the grip of my left hand and my right leg slipped from the rope. It was pretty much a rapid downward descent from there. In my shock I tried to wildly grasp at the trapeze which meant that I over rotated on the left side of my torso and yanked my head up and around (‘cruunch’) to see what was going on but there was no recovering from the laws of gravity and I landed heavily and awkwardly on my left side – thankfully on a crash mat.
I sprang back up again really quickly wanting to avoid a stop the traffic moment and although I felt a teeny bit sore I got right back on the trapeze. I was fortunately absolutely fine and was thanking God for the crash mats that we use. However, two days later at midday I left home to go to a trapeze class and the minute that I sat on the tube, I felt a dull and aching pain in my left side and difficulty turning my torso. The left side of my neck was also affected and the pain increased throughout the day. I was really shocked because I felt fine for two days and then all of a sudden I felt excruciating pain in my neck and back as a result of this fall.
It’s now three days later and I’ve had a break from the trapeze during which I’ve been trying to move less – turning in my sleep has not been working out for me.
The pain has subsided a little and I feel better which is great but I’ve had more that one moment of panic wondering if the pain would ever go away.
The thing that surprised me the most was how much pain you could be in even when you do land on a crash mat. I’ve fallen on a crash mat before but that time it was flat on my face during an in-class performance and the only injury was to my pride – embarrassed. This time the resulting pain was unexpected and has made me think about crash mats in an entirely different way.
I once asked one of my teachers about the best way to fall and she gave an insightful response which was that there isn’t a correct way to fall. I think she’s right (although there’s probably a physicist somewhere who may argue with this). You don’t want people to think of falling as an alternative option and something that they can do safely. It’s best just to try to ensure that you never fall.
Falling from the trapeze believe it or not is not actually inevitable but for many people who have never practised aerial arts, falling and aerial arts are inextricably linked. That’s where their fear and excitement comes from and that’s why they watch behind their fingers. They believe that there is a high probability that the performer may fall. I’ve even seen numerous students in classes across London freeze and refuse to perform a move or a trick because they are terrified by the ‘thought’ of falling. They have a teacher close to them ready to spot, they may be on a safety line or have the biggest crash mat underneath them but the thought of falling prevents them from going any further.
I’ve not seen many people in any of my classes fall from their equipment. It’s not that common to be honest but when people do we usually take a sharp intake of breath, stop for a moment and ask if they’re ok – it’s all very real and it could so easily be any one of us.
What have I learned form this experience? To fully concentrate especially when I’m doing a move in a new way even if it is a move that I have done hundreds of times over and that falling on a crash mat can be a softer landing but boy it can’t save you from the agony of awkward landings…