2019, Volume 15, Issue 1

Fall as an extreme situation for obese people

Bartłomiej Gąsienica Walczak1, Bartłomiej Jan Barczyński2, Roman Maciej Kalina3

1Podhale State College of Applied Sciences in Nowy Targ, Nowy Targ, Poland
2Archives of Budo, Warsaw, Poland
3State University of Applied Sciences in Nowy Sącz, Nowy Sącz, Poland

Author for correspondence: Bartłomiej Jan Barczyński; Archives of Budo, Warsaw, Poland; email: barczynski@wp.pl

Bartłomiej Jan Barczyński: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8627-4587

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Background & Study Aim: Global obesity rates have tripled in many countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region since the 1980s, and the numbers of those affected continue to rise at an alarming rate. Based on the latest estimates in European Union countries, overweight affects 30%-70%, and obesity affects 10%-30% of adults. In the USA 70% of the population are now affected by excess weight or obesity. The cognitive purpose of this paper comprises two issues, namely a general review of available papers on the risk of falls and body injuries in the population of obese persons due to such incidents as collisions with stationary objects (e.g. a wall) or moving objects (throwed objects, vehicles, etc.); the second issue relates to the effect of safe falling training in persons with third degree obesity.

Material & Methods: The review focuses on manuscripts published since 2001, describing obesity issues associated with greater risk of falling, and the risk of injury from a fall. The main result (conclusion) of the article analyses pertains either to theoretical studies or empirical studies, or both types of the aforementioned studies combined. The study participant was a woman (age 21 year, body height 168 cm, body mass 118 kg, BMI 41.81), a third year physiotherapy student  participating in specialist courses on the theory and methodology of safe falling. Clinical assessments were performed using the: Rotational Test (RT); the susceptibility test of the body injuries during the fall (STBIDF); test for safe falls (TSF); standing broad jump; bent arm hang; sit ups; trunk bend.

Results: There are more papers on the risk of falls in obese persons and fewer papers on body injuries in this population due to collisions with the ground during falls. SBIDF indicators obtained before the experiments (11 total points) have shown that the obese female participant was characterized by a very high level of susceptibility to body injuries during falls. The reduction of the score corresponding to errors committed while controlling the distal body parts to 3 points (average level) is the evidence for a high effectiveness of safe fall courses. The score obtained from the RT was 7 points (which indicates 61% of adequate test performance according to result decomposition criteria in T scale) before and after safe fall courses is the evidence of an average level of body balance disturbance tolerance. Reduction of test performance duration from 16.41 to 11.81 seconds (by 28.01%) confirms a favourable adaptive effect. The obese student perfectly performed TSF (100 points) within 20 seconds, providing an empirical evidence for acquiring the ability of safe falling at a very high level. The methods training resulted in upper limb muscle strength increase by 36%, that means 0 points before and 36 points after the experiment and 28% increase in lower limb muscle strength namely: 33- before and 61 points (raw data corresponding to standing long jump 120 cm before and 185 cm after the experiment). The obese student’s flexibility deteriorated as indicated by the values obtained prior to and following the experiment: 50 and 44 points and by the raw data of 10- and 5 cm respectively.

Conclusions: The aforementioned (although isolate) adaptive effects are important arguments for implementation of health related training for overweight and obese persons, based on safe falling workouts. There is no need to organize special safe falling and collision avoidance courses for overweight and obese persons; a competent application of the pedagogic rule of individualization during training sessions is sufficient.

Key words: body injuries, fall, safe fall course, soft fall theory

Cite this article as:


Gąsienica Walczak B, Barczyński B, Kalina R. Fall as an extreme situation for obese people. SMAES. 2019;15


Gąsienica Walczak, B., Barczyński, B.J., & Kalina, R.M. (2019). Fall as an extreme situation for obese people. SMAES, 15


Gąsienica Walczak, Bartłomiej, Barczyński Bartłomiej Jan, Kalina Roman Maciej. 2019. "Fall as an extreme situation for obese people". SMAES 15


Gąsienica Walczak, B., Barczyński, B.J., and Kalina, R.M. (2019). Fall as an extreme situation for obese people. SMAES, 15


Gąsienica Walczak, Bartłomiej et al. "Fall as an extreme situation for obese people." SMAES, vol. 15, 2019


Gąsienica Walczak B, Barczyński BJ, Kalina RM. Fall as an extreme situation for obese people. SMAES 2019; 15