FitOldDog Core Exercise Video Two And Thoughts On Our Center(s) Of Gravity


Hi folks,

Core strength and flexibility are critical for your training, performance, posture, dance, general mobility, and many other activities. What exactly the core is has to be experienced, and I am still in the discovery stage. There are several definitions out there, one of which is “your body minus your legs and arms.” This implies that your head is part of your core. Is it, I wonder? Another definition that I like is as follows: your body’s core [is] the area around your trunk and pelvis, [it] is where your center of gravity is located.” The statement about my center of gravity is of real interest, as I like to explore the effects of gravity on my body regularly. In fact, I made a simple video to show my favorite balance exercise in this respect.

But what is my center of gravity? Here is a nice definition from The Free Dictionary by Farlex: “The point in or near a body at which the gravitational potential energy of the body is equal to that of a single particle of the same mass located at that point and through which the resultant of the gravitational forces on the component particles of the body acts.” This is great! You can imagine that your body, all it’s bits and pieces, are being acted upon by gravity and the sum of all the effects lies at a single point in space somewhere in your body, and having the same mass as your body. It is interesting to explore this concept as you work with the effects of gravity on your sport, and work with it you must whether you like it or not. For instance, if you get front end wobble on your bike at high speed during long hill descents, my bike guy Victor told me, lower your [you = you+bike, see below] center of gravity by taking load away from the handlebars and seat, and down onto the peddles – it works like a charm, but my new Guru (built by Victor) doesn’t do that, thank goodness, as it used to scare the shit out of me at 40-45 mph on my previous bike.

During core training we rarely consider our hypothetical ‘center of gravity point,’ which I would agree must generally lie within our trunk region, simply due to the fact that the mass of our trunk exceeds that of our arms and legs combined, and gravitational effects are proportional to mass. But this hypothetical point, if/when it is a single point, is constantly moving and exerting forces on your trunk or core, so you better get your core in shape if you want to handle gravitational stresses and strains.

Your core is the center of your strength and agility, in part because it acts as a conduit or buffer of the gravitational and other forces on and to/from your limbs, having to deal with the effects of acceleration, deceleration, compression, centripetal force when you spin, and so forth, whether you are running rolling hills, taking sharp turns on your bike, or dancing with glee after a good race. Gravity also plays a key role in swimming, as you attempt to balance high in the water around this central gravitational fulcrum to reduce drag as you propel yourself forward, taking advantage of Archimedes Principal.

Interestingly, when attached to you, your bike and other equipment become a part of your gravitational mass, and thus contribute to the location and strength of your ‘center of gravity’, just like the book in the movie linked above. When you let go of the book, or your bike for that matter, you now have two independent centers of gravity, you and the book or bike. Likewise, when your arms or legs are relaxed and floating as they change direction (from away to towards your center of mass, for instance), and temporarily are not pulling or pushing your trunk, or small fragments of tissue are floating independently and briefly as your body changes direction, I would like to suggest that your center of gravity is temporarily fragmented, until the body parts are again linked as they are all pulled back together again by one force or another. In fact, because of the fluid and thixotropic (mucus-like) nature of your tissues, I suspect that your gravitational center is continually being fragmented into millions of ephemeral centers, which form and coalesce continually. There is clearly a beautiful dance of your center/centers of gravity as you move, and imagining the physics of these events can provide valuable insights into the dynamics of your body during your training.

Whatever your thoughts on centers of gravity, and whether you are undertaking exercise for better health or you are a serious athlete, core training should be a central component of your plan. Here is a great core exercise, and there are many, demonstrated by Pilates and Gyrotonic teacher, Tara (in the House), which we filmed during my Pilates lesson at the Spira Pilates Studio in Carrboro, NC. (Note: they have only just moved to a new facility, at 304 West Main Street, which is why the pictures are not yet attached to the wall and there is some clutter around).

Thank you Tara, it is very much appreciated.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is almost impossible to correctly carry out Pilates, and other approaches to core training, without a skilled instructor. Furthermore, if you carry out these maneuvers incorrectly you will not gain much of the benefit to be derived from this remarkable method of core training, and you may injure yourself. If you think that crunches are an adequate core training approach, think again!

-k Your Medical Mind


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.