July 29th, 2009

We got that swing

Why do we swing our arms when we walk? It turns out that scientists find it has some advantages:

“Rather than a facultative relic of the locomotion needs of our quadrupedal ancestors, arm swinging is an integral part of the energy economy of human gait,” says the paper.

Or, rather:

13 Responses to “We got that swing”

  1. stumbley Says:

    “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing…”

    -D. Ellington

  2. Nolanimrod Says:

    For a cheap thrill, the next time you walk swing your right arm foward when your right leg goes forward and the same for the left side. Difficult at first. Feels and looks really strange. If someone sees you he knows something is weird but can’t say what.

    In the days of tape recording once I left the “synch” switch in the off position and the actor started sounding like he had cerebral palsy. So I played with it a little and found that with the synch switch off, so the speaker hears his words in the headphones a few milliseconds after he says them, even a trained actor can’t get through the first verse of Mary Had A Little Lamb.

    The out of phase arm-swinging is a little like that, although you can do it with practice.

    And here you just wanted a lead-in to The Duke.

  3. Gringo Says:

    I heard the Duke play at the Newport Jazz Festival- in both Newport and in NYC. I heard the Ellington band led by his son Mercer in NYC and also in Argentina.

    I was with a bunch of vivos in Argentina who, courtesy of knowing one of the ushers, got in without paying for the Ellington concert. Perhaps I should have at least paid my ticket, but I went along with the crowd. When in Rome…

  4. nyomythus Says:

    My ‘mondegreenish visage’ — if I may — for a video of this song, following the lyrics, “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing…” was a prize fighter double dribbling his gloves on some poor suckers chin, “Doo-Wop! Doo-Wop! Doo-Wop! Doo-Wop! Doo-Wop!”

  5. csimon Says:

    Apparently, if you are not swinging your arms — or at least the way most people do — that can be a sign of trouble.

    A very close friend of mine (that I’ve been friends w/ since kindergarten!) has had trouble with her shoulders and arm movement for quite a while and doctors told her it was something called “frozen shoulder.” She has always been quite active athletically, and the problems were frustrating her. She was referred to a specialist (thank goodness before Obamacare made that an impossibility!) and sadly, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The connection here is that the doctor told her that he knew what she had the minute she walked into his office, from the way her arms swung when she walked! Or rather, they swung abnormally.

    It surprised both of us because I certainly had not noticed anything peculiar, nor had she. But I suppose the trained eye knows all about that “swing” and what it does or does not tell him/her.

  6. nyomythus Says:

    csimon — amazing and sad story, sorry for your friend.

  7. Baklava Says:

    This is funny

    http://carrollspaper.1upsoftware.com/print.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=8449

  8. Baklava Says:

    I don’t know what all of this means but is seems significant..

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203609204574317090690242698.html

  9. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    And here you just wanted a lead-in to The Duke.

    Well, now, pilgrim, why are you walking like that?

    Oh, was that the wrong duke?

  10. Baklava Says:

    Nancy is ensuring people know that she is not presidential material

    http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE56T4CZ20090730?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&rpc=22&sp=true

  11. Baklava Says:

    See this picture?

    http://www.census.gov/indicator/www/img/ustrade.gif

    Exports and imports – amount of goods and services bought and sold in and out of this country look to have leveled off from a huge drop….

    This means to me that if Obama chose the right prescription for the U.S. economy (the one that Sarah Palin and John McCain had with cuts in capital gains, corporate and income tax rates) that the amount of goods and services we produce could actually go up….

    It only requires the right business climate.

    If he bull headedly tries to impose cap and trade and ∅bamacare many of the health and energy goods and services will send a shock through our system and including charts like these.

    We won’t see a recovery any time soon if ∅bama and the Dem∅crats get what they want.

  12. njcommuter Says:

    The physics is pretty simple. You want a counterforce to the torque that results when one leg or the other is driving back. The opposing swing in the arms provides that. Energetically, it is better to create that countertorque by moving the arms than by twisting the torso because the arms are further from the central axis of the body and create more torque for each unit of linear momentum.

  13. douglas Says:

    njc, I agree, and frankly, can’t believe that anyone funded a study to find this out. What, they could perform this study as they walked around campus figuring out the next pointless study they could do funded by some government entity? I used to run, and I know my shoulders were in better shape, and I’d adjust my arm swing depending on if I were on flat ground, or going up or downslope. A formal study was a real waste of resources here. Heck, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that people are inherently lazy, so if they’re doing something, there’s got to be a reason.

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