Scientists have suggested that training older people in martial arts could cut their chances of suffering broken bones or fractures when they fall.
Teaching the elderly how to fall properly to minimize damage could yield significant benefits, they believe.
The training could be particularly useful to those suffering from osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease, who are most at risk.
Brenda Groen along with researchers from the Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, studied the effects of fall training in six healthy people.
"For obvious safety reasons, this could not be directly assessed using persons with osteoporosis. Therefore, we measured the hip impact forces during the martial arts fall exercises in a group of young adults," she said.
"Based on our results, however, we believe that fall training would be safe for persons with osteoporosis if they wear hip protectors during the training, perform fall exercises on a thick mattress, and avoid forward fall exercises from a standing position," she added.
Using a force platform, the researchers were able to measure the force of each fall and compare this to known information about the amount of impact a patient with osteoporosis can withstand.
The falls taught in this study all involved turning a fall into a rolling movement by bending and twisting the trunk and neck, and it is possible for older people to learn these impact-reducing techniques.
"Since martial arts techniques reduce hip impact forces and can be learned by older persons, martial arts fall training may prevent hip fractures among persons with osteoporosis," Groen concluded.
The study has been published in the open access journal BMC Research Notes .