Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

the importance of being right footed

In my family we're a little obsessed with track and field, especially the events where legs can set you apart. This results in me staring at my baby trying to figure out if she favors one leg over the other. Stay with me here, I'll explain.

Last month Olive could only move around using her arms. She would roll onto her tummy then push herself in circles, or backwards. This resulted in her getting wedged under furniture a lot, which takes care of some dusting for us but frustrated her.

Then we noticed her getting up on her knees a bit, but that confused her, she wasn't sure where to go. She didn't seem to move her legs independently at all, on her back they would bend or kick together, she could have been a mermaid.

Finally this week she's pushing forward with one leg or the other, still not crawling but she understands that one leg can push while the other one could hold her up and this seems to be a big step, which brings me to the dominant leg things we're so interested in here. Not hands. You can be right or left handed and nobody cares... it's worked out to be all right-handed in my family. Josie was obviously right-handed from the time she started holding spoons.

But most people are not right-footed. It can really set you apart, my dad claims that he trained me to be right-legged but maybe it just worked out that way, anyway it's important for two reasons:

If you run low hurdles, pushing off with your right leg means you're pushing into the curves between the straightaways. Really it's sort of awful to run low hurdles because 400 meters is a painful enough run, too far for too fast, and hurdles make it even worse. But it'll make you badass.

If you're a high jumper, like I was, jumping off your right leg means you get to start from the opposite side as everyone else. You have more space to put your start marker, to stretch out, and more chances when everyone else is warming up to find your step. High jump is the best event. When everyone else is hitting the weight room or running ten miles, you're sitting in the grass stretching and "visualizing your form", or contemplating other rituals that might help get you in the right mental state for repeating the same motion over and over.

Here is the unscientific way to try to guess what your dominant leg is: stand facing forward. Have a friend get behind you, and give you a good push. You'll instinctively step forward to catch yourself, and whatever leg you step forward with is dominant, and you'll start practice jumping off that one. Sometimes it doesn't totally work and you try the other side. If someone really can't decide after two weeks or so they're just crazy and we kinda write them off. Everybody has to pick a leg. Once you know it you can figure out how to long jump, triple jump, and get in your start blocks comfortably. It has nothing to do with throwing stuff. I wasn't strong enough to hang out with those kids anyway. When I got to college I learned that most throwers are farm kids anyway, it's pointless to take it up if you're from the suburbs, we just don't get that strong. But I could be elegant, which is how I got to be a high jumper, it was an art form. A beautiful sport.
Tags: childhood
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