Idiosyncratic control of the center of mass in expert climbers

Maria Luisa Zampagni, S. Brigadoi, F. Schena, P. Tosi, Y. P. Ivanenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here, we studied posture and movement coordination adopted by expert climbers. The investigation of such expertise might be of particular interest to gain understanding about the mechanisms underlying the biomechanical control of vertical quadrupedal locomotion. A novel custom setup was developed to analyze the motion of the center-of-mass (COM) and complementary information about the dynamic distribution of vertical reaction forces under the feet during climbing in nine elite climbers (EC) and nine control subjects. Two adaptive features were found in EC. First, unexpectedly they tended to maintain larger COM distances from the wall relative to controls, during both the static and dynamic phases of vertical motion (by ~5cm in both cases). Second, while the control subjects tended to restrain the lateral motion of the COM, all EC demonstrated systematic COM oscillations (~1.3 times larger) associated with a significant alternating dynamic redistribution of the body weight between the limbs during the double support phase. The latter phenomenon likely reflects an adopted basic climbing strategy in experts. Furthermore, a convergence of the optimal solution towards a more diagonal climbing strategy in EC may shed light on the origin of the diagonal gait in primates and early hominids habituated to quadrupedal vertical locomotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-699
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Center-of-mass control
  • Climbing
  • Human quadrupedal locomotion
  • Limb loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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