You could be looking to get into freerunning or parkour, but more than likely, this skill applies to you in the way that it applies to most people: In an emergency situation, how do I jump off a roof and survive to talk about it? It’s a skill that takes knowledge and practice, far beyond just sending it and hoping for the best. To find out what skills are necessary and what the best practice is for surviving the jump, we spoke with Red Bull freerunner Jason Paul.
Paul was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and is a regular champion at Red Bull’s Art of Motion freerunning competition. He’s a huge name in the world of freerunning, and on Instagram, where he has amassed over 178,000 followers. He’s run everywhere from Tokyo to Moscow to Sarajevo. While Paul’s tips will make you better prepared to survive jumping off a roof, we don’t suggest that you try it, except in an emergency situation.
Check the height. If possible, take a good look at the height of what you’re going to be jumping off, whether that’s a roof or a cliff. In an emergency situation, this isn’t always possible, but it definitely helps you to gauge your landing.
Check the landing. The material that you’re going to be landing on is crucial. A bit of this is common sense, but if you have the choice between landing on grass or wood chips, aim for the wood chips. According to Paul: “Sand is the nicest to land on. Then wood chips, grass and concrete.” Make sure that your landing is clear and that there is plenty of space between where you’re aiming to land and any obstacles.
Get as much forward momentum as possible. “Go for distance,” said Paul. Don’t try to jump up and out. Focus on jumping far away from the structure that you’re jumping off of. The forward momentum will help you to minimize risk of injury in your legs due to impact.
Tuck your legs in at first, then straighten as you spot your landing. When you jump, pull your legs in towards your chest to get your speed and momentum up. Make sure that you’re leaning slightly forward and spot your landing. When you see your landing, slow yourself down by extending your legs. This should happen around mid-jump. This will also put you in a position to absorb the landing.
Land on your forefeet with your knees slightly bent. When you first hit the ground, don’t land on your heels. Make sure you land on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. Don’t be too tense, but make sure not to be too relaxed either — aim for a middle ground between the two.
Absorb the impact and tuck into a roll. Collapse your legs and transition into a roll. Aim to roll somewhat to the side, tucking either your right or left shoulder. Roll over your shoulder, tuck your head, and continue to roll along your back and onto your buttcheek. Pop up and continue running.
Start small. Paul stressed that it’s best to have practice before trying to jump off of something around one story. “If you want to jump off of something high, jump off of something small first,” he said. Practice makes perfect. In an emergency situation, it’s key to try to minimize the height of what you’re jumping off of as much as possible. This can mean climbing down onto a ledge, or making sure not to jump for height, but jumping for distance.