Centre of Gravity

The centre of gravity is the point at which the body’s mass is equally balanced. That’s nice but what does that mean to you? Well, it has everything to do with stability. If falling isn’t something you’re interested in, paying attention to where your centre of gravity makes [??] the difference between staying on your feet and landing on your ass. 

I am height challenged (almost 5’ 4)”. I was the shortest one in my immediate family and pretty much throughout my extended family. I often have to ask for help getting items off of a high self at the grocery store. Personally, I do not have a problem stepping up on the bottom shelf but that is frowned upon. I know that from experience. Aside from that and short jokes, being this height has not been a problem. 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 I carry a greater percentage of my weight below my waist (finally I can see a benefit to that). Do you remember those weighted clown punching bags 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 like skiing, skating, stand-up paddling, surfing, etc.

Here’s the tricky thing – you are born with your centre of gravity. The two factors that affect stability are height and where the bulk of your weight sits. Tall men with long legs have the greatest challenge. Men tend to carry the bulk of their weight above the waist and having long legs just raises it more. 

While you can’t do much to physically change where your centre of gravity is in your body, you can adapt! It’s as simple as bending 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 to the ground improves stability. Conversely, anything that raises it creates more of a challenge. Raising your arms will do it. So will carrying a backpack or a purse. Overcoming challenges like these starts with 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 for circumstances that come your way unexpectedly.

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