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Partner happiegrrrl


Dec 14, 2007, 8:33 AM
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Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing
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As many of you have read in the news recently, the discovery of a difference between the vertebrae in women and men's spines may help women to maintain balance during pregnancy as weight shifts.


EDIT: Oops! I do apologize for not referencing a link to the article in the original post. Here it is:
http://health.usnews.com/...ce-in-moms-favor.htm
. I definitely understand that it looks like just a spam for my blog, and am sorry about that. I was racing to submit before running out for an errand. Should have waited until I had the time to be more careful.


I wrote a post to my blog(link:http://happiegrrrlclimbing.blogspot.com/.../posture-please.html), wondering how this might pertain to our difference in climbing techniques as well.

So far as I know, the vertebrae discovery is new, and so it can be assumed there's no data on how it affects climbing. But I thought it might be an interesting topic to throw out there. What do you think?


(This post was edited by happiegrrrl on Dec 14, 2007, 9:18 AM)


Carnage


Dec 14, 2007, 8:59 AM
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Re: [happiegrrrl] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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omg blagspam.

can i please have a link to the source w/out click your blog. thanks


carabiner96


Dec 14, 2007, 9:05 AM
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Re: [Carnage] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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seriously. link the article, not your blog.


Partner happiegrrrl


Dec 14, 2007, 9:31 AM
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Re: [carabiner96] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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SORRY! Edited the OP.

I was rushing, and I have to admit, I thought the "vertebrae story" was so all over the news that people just knew what I was talking about. I've seen it everywhere from on free newspapers in the subway to my homepage when I log on. It just went right over my head when dashing off the OP to provide the link to a particular story.

And I know I should have done the fancy link behind the key words...but I'm again in between errands. So sloppy....

As well, I Googled vertebrae + balance + pregnancy for the story I linked to in my blog, but it is simply the first on pages. It seemed to have good information, but maybe others have got better resources they'd like to share.

Maybe I have screwed the chance of any serious discussion in this thread by the error, but I hope not.

At any rate, I will say that when I first saw the story(with headlines like "Why Don't Women Topple When They're Pregnant?") I thought it was a stupid bit of filler news. But then, after reading a few articles, I could see the headlines were just commercial journalism, going for the hook.

But then it occurred to me that the vertebrae/hip flare difference really probably does account for the fact that women tend to be more graceful in our climbing. That our balance is improved because of it.

It would be interesting to know if other climbers who might work in fields that relate(science/medicine/physiology/physical therapy) had also had this insight, and what they think about it.... hence my reason for creating the blog post/referencing it here.

Thanks.


(This post was edited by happiegrrrl on Dec 14, 2007, 9:35 AM)


Carnage


Dec 14, 2007, 9:35 AM
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Re: [carabiner96] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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im not surprised. usually when a new girl goes climbing, they go for balance moves, while men go for the strength moves.

Guys have more testosterone which helps give us more muscle mass, while females dont have the brute strength that we do so they attempt the balancing moves because they are better at it.

look at gymnastics. females get the balance beams, males get the rings. not saying each dont require strength and balance, but they accentuate the strengths/weaknesses of each sex.


ptlong


Dec 14, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Re: [happiegrrrl] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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happiegrrrl wrote:
As many of you have read in the news recently, the discovery of a difference between the vertebrae in women and men's spines may help women to maintain balance during pregnancy as weight shifts....

...So far as I know, the vertebrae discovery is new, and so it can be assumed there's no data on how it affects climbing. But I thought it might be an interesting topic to throw out there. What do you think?

I think that if you give women the hormones to simulate pregnancy and then ask them to climb with a bowling ball strapped to their stomachs they will on average do better than women without the hormones.

Does anybody know if a male pelvis will remodel in response to relaxin?


carabiner96


Dec 14, 2007, 11:13 AM
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Re: [ptlong] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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ptlong wrote:
happiegrrrl wrote:
As many of you have read in the news recently, the discovery of a difference between the vertebrae in women and men's spines may help women to maintain balance during pregnancy as weight shifts....

...So far as I know, the vertebrae discovery is new, and so it can be assumed there's no data on how it affects climbing. But I thought it might be an interesting topic to throw out there. What do you think?

I think that if you give women the hormones to simulate pregnancy and then ask them to climb with a bowling ball strapped to their stomachs they will on average do better than women without the hormones.

Does anybody know if a male pelvis will remodel in response to relaxin?

Please, pass me what you're smoking.


pug


Dec 14, 2007, 12:11 PM
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Re: [happiegrrrl] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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From the description in the article, I would guess that the vertebrae adaptation is not relevant to climbing. It sounds like it really only helps shift a pregnant woman's center of gravity backwards (by allowing the fetus to be positioned further back). The larger hip joints might be relevant to climbing, but lack of details (and my own lack of knowledge) make that difficult for me to evaluate.


alexnees


Dec 14, 2007, 2:52 PM
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Re: [happiegrrrl] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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Well, interesting article. Not very-well supported results yet (only one study, issue of relaxin, etc), but still food for thought. But I have to take issue with the basic premise of the thread: "women tend to be more graceful in their climbing." What does that mean? What's the connection between climbing "grace" and spinal flexibility? Or hip turnout, for that matter? Rarely does a route require such an extreme arching of the back as to make the additional spinal curvature at all useful. It is true that beginning climbers who are men tend to use strength and thrash, while beginning climbers who are women tend to, umm, not use strength they don't have. Talented beginners of both sexes quickly pick up the basics of efficient movement, flexible positioning, flagging, etc.

Is balance improved? Well, the article referenced suggests simply that the suite of adaptations referenced help women deal with the resultant movement of their center of gravity 3-5 cm ventrally due to pregnancy. Now, unless you're carrying a big wall rack attached to your belay loop, I don't really see how this situation applies to climbing, where your center of gravity is typically offset dorsally or to either side.

Is hip turnout improved? Probably, either through anatomy or the action of relaxin. Is this useful in some situations? Yes. But many techniques that we consider "graceful" (drop knees, flags, backsteps) don't require that kind of hip turnout and are frequently more effective than staying face-on to the wall and relying on hip turnout.

So overall, I don't think that the anatomical features described in the article account, to any great extent, for the "female style" of climbing movement.


Partner happiegrrrl


Dec 14, 2007, 4:19 PM
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Re: [alexnees] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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alexnees wrote:
...But I have to take issue with the basic premise of the thread: "women tend to be more graceful in their climbing." What does that mean? What's the connection between climbing "grace" and spinal flexibility? Or hip turnout, for that matter?...

...Is balance improved? Well, the article referenced suggests simply that the suite of adaptations referenced help women deal with the resultant movement of their center of gravity 3-5 cm ventrally due to pregnancy. Now, unless you're carrying a big wall rack attached to your belay loop, I don't really see how this situation applies to climbing, where your center of gravity is typically offset dorsally or to either sidet.

When I had written "...why women are almost always more graceful as climbers then their male peers.", it was a statement simply of what I have heard many people say - that women tend to use shifts in their balance while navigating a route more so than male counterparts. That shifting of motion, adjusting to recreate an equilibrium within the execution of sequences, might be called "gracefulness."

I have absolutely no experience in any field that has studied anatomy, movement, or such. That is why, when this idea occurred to me, I thought I would ask others, who may have some ideas.

What I'm suggesting - and again, it's just a thought - is not so much(not at all, actually) related to a change in weight carried(as in a rack), but that the variation in shape of the vertebrae might have effects on our movement other than creating a shift of gravity center when additional weight is added.

I understand your mention of no need for excessive arching, but...maybe perhaps that subtle variation might be something that allows women a greater flexibility, range of motion in the lower back, so as to allow for more of what is sometimes referred to as "gracefulness."

The idea could be completely without merit, and I appreciate your input. I just thought this was an interesting idea to toss around. To see what others came up with.


ptlong


Dec 14, 2007, 5:50 PM
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Re: [happiegrrrl] Evolution of Women's Vertebrae and Climbing [In reply to]
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happiegrrrl wrote:
When I had written "...why women are almost always more graceful as climbers then their male peers.", it was a statement simply of what I have heard many people say - that women tend to use shifts in their balance while navigating a route more so than male counterparts. That shifting of motion, adjusting to recreate an equilibrium within the execution of sequences, might be called "gracefulness."

Gracefulness is subjective so how would you measure that? It might be possible to look at a large population of climbers (men and women) and compare the curvatures in their lower backs to their redpoint abilities.

In reply to:
What I'm suggesting - and again, it's just a thought - is not so much(not at all, actually) related to a change in weight carried(as in a rack), but that the variation in shape of the vertebrae might have effects on our movement other than creating a shift of gravity center when additional weight is added.

I understand your mention of no need for excessive arching, but...maybe perhaps that subtle variation might be something that allows women a greater flexibility, range of motion in the lower back, so as to allow for more of what is sometimes referred to as "gracefulness."

Or it might turn out to be a disadvantage for climbing?


Partner happiegrrrl


Dec 14, 2007, 6:35 PM
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ptlong wrote:
Gracefulness is subjective so how would you measure that? It might be possible to look at a large population of climbers (men and women) and compare the curvatures in their lower backs to their redpoint abilities.

I'm no scientist, but I get your point about the use of the word "gracefulness."

I'm going to look around and see what more I can find on the issue, but in the first link I found:
http://www.iol.co.za/...1212225932451C482458

"The shape of the vertebrae allows her to rotate the upper body," Shapiro said.


This interested me because what I was thinking was that perhaps the shape allowed women a greater range of motion in rotation, but I was thinking it would be the lower part, under the "special" vertebrae that might rotate(at wider range of motion both upward/downward and side to side).

They say "above," of course. But since I know nothing about these things, I'm gonna be bold and suggest it's possible the flexibility could be increased BOTH above and below! After all, the research only included 19 women.

I am imagining this range of motion to be almost like a ball and socket sort of motion, where the flexibility is similar to a pivoting action.

It wouldn't be difficult to measure those ranges in large numbers of people. Male and female, pregnant, not pregnant, after having been pregnant, boys and girls before the onset of puberty....

That range of motion, pivot-like quality, in a person's back when they climb is pretty much the top item I personally think of if asked to describe what "gracefulness in climbing" is.


Another site, says something similar:
http://ts-si.org/content/view/2787/992/

Women's lower spines evolved to be more flexible and supportive than men's to increase comfort and mobility during pregnancy, and to accommodate the special biology of carrying a baby for nine months while standing on two feet. Evolved differences between female and male spines give mothers increased extension for stability and comfort.

and:


"In females, the lordosis is subtly different than that of males, because the curvature extends across three vertebrae, while the male lordosis curves across only two vertebrae," says Whitcome. "Loading across three vertebrae allows an expectant mother to increase her lordosis, realigning her center of gravity above her hips and offsetting the destabilizing weight of the baby."


So - forget about babies, for this discussion. The structure is still there, allowing women the ability to realign her center of gravity above her hips.

We are told, in climbing, about the "triangle" that always should get in place as we make the movements in the sequences. I admit - I never thought about it much.

But, if women have an innate ability to automatically reset that balance....maybe it's not so much about a balance over the feet only. Maybe the hip shift is part of it.

But - what do I know!


lena_chita
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Dec 17, 2007, 7:51 AM
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happiegrrrl wrote:
But - what do I know!

Nobody else knows either Smile

I've heard about that study on the radio and thought it was interesting, too.

But I don't think that there is that much of a backward spine bending in climbing, so I don't think it is very relevant. (LOL, I can think of two GYM boulder problems where I had to bend over backwards like crazy but not a single situation outside... and yes, in those cases where I did a crazy high-step/twist/drop-knee/arch-your-back/reach thingie, the guys simply reached around that sequence...)

Balance shifts and hip flexion being different betwen men and women? Well, maybe. Women do tend to be more flexible-- just taking a random sampling of people off the street and asking them to touch their toes and try to get into a split will show that. Also, since women tend to be shorter then men, and since the gravity center is positioned lower on female body b/c of the wider hips. it makes sense, of course, that women will move through sequences that require a lot of balance shifts differently than men.

I can think of couple examples from personal experience, where I had an easier time on a specific route than my husband, who is a stronger climber overall. In all those cases there were moves that required some sort of a wide/high step with subsequent weight shift onto the higher foot, with no good hands to help you. BUT. even though i had an easier time with the move on the first try, my husband was able to figure out a version that worked for him after couple tries. And yes, his sequence looked nothing like mine... But in the end, we both climbed the same route, so who cares?


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