Gravity and Movement

Gravity is mentioned everywhere – advertising, articles, news, etc. It is talked about in relation to what seems to be a random selection of things like treadmills and some other exercise equipment, shoes, even bras, and a few other curious products. All of that is great yet based on the information mentioned along with the popular word ‘gravity’ shows that gravity is still very much the elephant in the room and it is treated as something that “applies to this but not to that”, “it is here, but not over there”. Fact is – gravity is in the very matrix of our world, gravity is a silent dictator that rules it.

Gravity came before anything else. In order for our solar system to have come into existence, gravity had to have been already present. Here on Earth, gravity is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, never letting up for even a second. Gravity does vary across the surface of our planet but it is there nonetheless and the differences are not significant enough to affect the way you move. Gravity is everything and it is everywhere. “The most essential characteristics of all biological systems are defined by the Universal Law of Gravity”, wrote a Russian scientist and academic P. Anokhin.

Gravity is the most valuable factor of life on this planet because life as we know it, is impossible without gravity. Without it we couldn’t move the same way, we wouldn’t look the same way, we couldn’t breathe, and we wouldn’t have the air to begin with. The influence of gravity shapes and structures all living creatures including human anatomical and physiological structure, size and weight.

All human movement is gravity-dependent. Whether you’re running, swimming, walking to your car or reaching for milk in your refrigerator – you’re moving under the influence of gravity. Try this, stand straight, relax, feet slightly apart, knees relaxed (not locked, not bent), arms down, upright and relaxed posture. Now shift your body from one foot to another without breaking contact with the ground. Do you feel your bodyweight? That’s how we feel gravity. Wherever we go, whatever we do – it’s always there. But it doesn’t just pull us down like so many would insist. It does so much more.

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to recognize it as a propulsive force, “motion is created by the destruction of balance, that is, of equality of weight for nothing can move by itself which does not leave its state of balance and that thing moves most rapidly which is furthest from its balance”.

Four centuries later, Thomas Graham-Brown expanded on da Vinci’s thoughts, writing, “It seems to me that the act of progression itself – whether it be flight through the air or by such movements as running over the surface of the ground – consists essentially in a movement in which the centre of gravity of the body is allowed to fall forwards and downwards under the action of gravity, and in which the momentum thus gained is used in driving the centre of gravity again upwards and forwards; so that, from one point in the cycle to the corresponding point in the next, no work is done (theoretically), but the mass of the individual is, in effect, moved horizontally through the environment”.

Gravity should be considered as the dominant force on Earth, the strongest mechanical force among all the forces of nature and therefore any movement on Earth is both influenced by, and subordinate to, gravity. Before we can really improve our sports techniques and consequently beat personal bests or world records, we must first acknowledge the effect of gravity on human locomotion and then try to understand it and how it works.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

The Pose – How It Works

As mentioned in another article, when moving, our body goes through an infinite number of poses in space and time. Among the multitude of those poses there are those that play an essential role in forming our movement as a whole. Those poses are referred to as ‘key poses’ (or simply poses now), as Dr. Romanov named them, because they are at the center, they connect the preceding pose with the pose that follows, while serving as a conductor of energy and all forces involved, and producing the most efficient movement.

In the Pose Method the understanding of the correct hierarchy of interaction of the forces involved, with gravity in the leading role, allowed to put human movement in a certain perspective where all movement became defined as pose to pose by change of support.

Movement cannot happen without support. If our body does not find support (if the foot doesn’t meet the ground, for example) there will be no movement in any direction. Our body will be in a continuous free fall under the effect of gravity. If there was no gravity or the force was slightly different, than our planet would have a different look to it, we’d have a different appearance and a different way of moving.

Under the dome of the current gravitational field, the most effective single support is the one that’s centered, the one that brings balance yet is ready to destroy that balance in a blink of an eye. Applies to inanimate or living, we are affected by gravity in the same manner. No matter your body type, size, weight or your skill level, it remains true for all. In running, this is what the recommendation “land under your hips, under your GCM (general center of mass), or as close as possible to it” is based on.

When on support a body, any body, can move in any direction. It will move, or it will fall in whichever direction it is tilted. The quality of movement however will be the outcome of the quality of the body position on support. If you’ve ever slipped on ice you have a pretty good idea of all sorts of random poses that your body goes through when losing support in an unexpected and disorganized manner and trying to find balance while being pull down by gravity. The sequence of events is simple – you fell down not because your body went through random poses, instead you went through those random poses because you slipped, but why did you slip? Because your body pose on support was off and ice leaves tiny room for error in movement.

The Trajectory of Movement

Before attaining support any physical body goes through the motions. If movement happens from support to support, then the path leading to landing on support started at the previous support. And in turn, the current support will determine the quality of the following support.

This is also how the trajectory of your moving parts is determined. No need to copy someone else. Go from pose to pose, change support, and the trajectory of your movement takes care of itself. The better the pose, the quicker the movement from support to support, the better the trajectory…the more efficient you are.

In order for all of this to work properly, the pose assumed by your body on support must have certain characteristics. It must be a pose of balance that offers stability yet does not affect the momentum of movement. It has to be compact and focused.

Mechanically the pose and change of support are identical for everyone. Though we are all unique, gravity affects us all in the same manner and the effective way to deal with it applies to all. While Ferris wheels in different locations are painted in different colors and have different design of passenger cars, the mechanical work of the main unit remains the same.

So the pose of the body while on support is everything. If yours resembles a starfish, while very stable, you most likely won’t move too fast. But if you’re correctly posed and change support quickly you will be fast, efficient and injury free.

The Pose

  • harnesses the power of elements of previous movement, and defines the consequent movements
  • defines optimized interaction of all forces involved
  • helps integrate all forces during the support phase
  • provides for the best interaction with support, and support is an essential part of any movement
  • significantly optimizes muscular efforts
  • utilizes natural properties of the entire muscular skeletal system like muscles’ ability to contract and relax, and their elasticity, etc.
  • eliminates extra unnecessary movement so less energy is spent
  • allows to move with sharp precision
  • simplifies teaching and learning of any technique

In running, or any other athletic activity, using pose allows us to tap into the natural forces at play. Physics and biomechanics performing in harmony. Key position allows us to flow within the natural forces and use their power, instead of clashing with them and suffering the consequences.

You get better results with less effort and don’t traumatize your body in the process.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]