/Centre of gravity

Centre of gravity

By Laurie Sweig

The centre of gravity is the point at which the body’s mass is equallybalanced. That’s nice but what does that mean to you? Well it haseverything to do with stability. If falling isn’t something you’reinterested in paying attention to where your centre of gravity is makes  the difference between staying on your feet and landing on your butt.

I am height challenged (almost five-foot-four). I was the shortest one in my immediate family and pretty much throughout my extended family. Ioften have to ask for help getting items off of a high self at thegrocery store. Personally I do not have a problem stepping up on thebottom shelf but that is frowned upon. I know that from experience.Aside from that and short jokes being this height has not been aproblem. It has been an advantage.

The closer the bulk of your weight is to the ground the more stable you are. Not only am I short but Icarry a greater percentage of my weight below my waist (finally I cansee a benefit to that). Do you remember those weighted clown punchingbags that you hit and they’d stand up again? That is a great example of a very low centre of gravity. The lower your centre of gravity the harder it is to be knocked off your feet. Comes in handy for sports likeskiing skating stand-up paddling surfing etc.

Here’s the trickything – you are born with your centre of gravity. The two factors thataffect stability are height and where the bulk of your weight sits. Tall men with long legs have the greatest challenge. Men tend to carry thebulk of their weight above the waist and having long legs just raises it more.
While you can’t do much to physically change where yourcentre of gravity is in your body you can adapt! It’s as simple asbending your knees. Try this experiment:
Stand with your feet relatively close together.
Take a big step forward in a lunge position with one foot.
Step back to the starting position with your knees straight and locked.
Repeat the lunge and step back but this time bend your knees before you return to the starting position.
Try it on both sides.

Did you feel a difference? Anything you do to bring your weight closer tothe ground improves stability. Conversely anything that raises itcreates more of a challenge. Raising your arms will do it. So willcarrying a backpack or a purse. Overcoming challenges like these startswith awareness. The best way to avoid falls is to train for them.Putting yourself in controlled unstable conditions like standing on one foot and raising your arms helps to train your nerves and muscles forcircumstances that come your way unexpectedly.
Something to think about.

Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor.She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at laurie@thepointforfitness.com .