It seems like Vogue December cover star Jennifer Lawrence, the world’s highest-paid actress and Dior-donning girl-next-door, is perpetually caught in a dramatic, slow crescendo-ing face plant. Take it from her third award-winning tumble this past week at the premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 in Beijing, where the doll-faced 25-year-old tumbled onto the Hollywood Welcome Mat, once again flanked by a stabilizing set of bodyguards and PR people, and immortalized in a mid-arm flail. Of course, Lawrence immediately did the most Lawrence thing possible: She waved the help away, flashed a beaming smile, and soaked up the applause from onlookers.
Like Lawrence, we’ve taken a tumble or two, but instead of it happening on the red carpet, it’s been on the street, without a suited support system to pull us up by the arms. Plus, the flop always seems destined to happen in a cringe-worthy situation, like while on a date or carrying a container of eggs home. Still, no matter the setting, falling is always cheek-reddening—and sometimes cheek-scraping. It’s a snafu on the sidewalk and a chink in our armor that causes us to look clumsy and uncoordinated for a few seconds. But there are ways to make the process less rough-and-tumble, and even a bit graceful.
To get the official lowdown on nose-dive etiquette, we turned to Madonna’s trainer, Nicole Winhoffer, who also teaches a high-impact, dance choreography–meets–workout class, for some controlled plummeting tips. “Forget about the material things, like your phone and your purse. The first thing is to get your hands free. Like with body contact in dance, when we do movements of falling to the ground, you [shift] your weight from your legs and your feet to your arms,” says Winhoffer. Then, she continues, “try and twist your body to the side facing your hips and fall to the side of your thigh, allowing your arms to catch you, which also helps to protect your face and lessen the impact.” As for the less-obvious ego-bruise portion of the episode, Winhoffer suggests thinking of falling as less of an embarrassment and more of a cosmic event. “It is the universe’s way of being like, ‘Hello! Wake up! You are doing too much’—getting you to pay attention, to stand on your feet, and to be strong.”
But what about prevention? Is there a way to find your footing while in full-body descent? If we’re taking notes from Lawrence, the pavement-pounding gaffs may have a lot to do with wardrobe malfunctions. “She looks like she is twisting her ankle as she goes down. It is clearly a bit of a struggle to be in certain heels. Her whole body is buckling!” says physical therapist Michelle Rodriguez, whose clients include a long list of graceful New York City Ballet dancers. To minimize the possibility of the aforementioned ankle twist, “a sense of balance is key,” says Rodriguez—but if you happen to lack one and take a floor-bound plunge instead, the most important thing to remember on the way down is: Loosen up. “Just go with the fall, so that way your body isn’t completely fighting it,” says Rodriguez. “There should be a kind of softness instead of a crazy rigid reaction where you are straining and could actually hurt yourself.”
Sometimes, of course, there’s no stopping a knockout plunge. So how do you recover? Model Candice Swanepoel—who took a viral slip this past season at Givenchy and later Instagrammed the blurry image of the knee-to-runway moment with the cheeky caption, “Fall from grace”—offers some sound advice. “If you’re going to fall, you might as well make it a big one so people never forget it,” says Swanepoel. “And don’t forget to bow straight after.” In other words, even if Bradley Cooper isn’t there to catch you, embrace the tumble and let the round of applause ensue.
Watch Jennifer Lawrence nail the awkward interview.
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