The Gravity Swing

My dad has this device in his basement called a “gravity swing.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, it is a metal contraption designed to help those with bad backs get relief by hanging upside down for a while and uncompressing their spinal cord. It is also great fun for the kids of those with bad backs. I loved playing with it when I was in high school and college. (My friend Paul’s dad had one that involved two hooks you strapped to your feet. You then jumped up and grabbed a pull-up bar, pulled your feet up, hooked the hooks onto the bar, then let go of the bar with your hands, until you were hanging completely upside down. Paul loved to play with it until his older brother caught him hanging upside down one day and realized that “hanging Paul” would make a great punching bag. Paul never played with the hooks again.)

My dad’s thing-a-ma-jig is a little more complex, and a lot more fun. You step onto the footrest, standing almost straight up, and strap your feet in. If you’ve done it correctly, your center of gravity is almost perfectly balanced – all you have to do is raise your arms, your center of gravity changes, and the swiveling bed rotates backwards leaving you hanging upside down. When you lower your arms, your center of gravity does as well and you gracefully swing back up into an upright position. You can work a rhythm of raising and lowering your arms, swinging almost all the way upside down, back upright again…

However, all the above is contingent upon doing it correctly. There is a lever which lets you set it for your height. A few nights ago, I got in the gravity swing, and I didn’t adjust the lever. I layed down, strapped my feet in, raised my arms, and found myself hanging upside down. So far, so good…

I raised my arms, but instead of flipping back upright, I simply hung there. I tried again. Nothing. I could see this was going to be a problem.

I’m not a complete idiot though – even though I do manage to get myself into jams like this, I can usually get out of them as well. And that night was one of those nights. After swinging and rocking and gathering up momentum, I was able to mostly right myself, grasp the bookshelf, and claw my way back up to an upright position. I didn’t have to humiliate myself by calling for my dad to come and rescue me, and then explain to everyone how I got stuck. Instead, I get to do it here, online, for you…

Just be careful when you play on the gravity swings. I’m serious…



Filed under accidents, adventures, oops

4 responses to “The Gravity Swing

  1. April

    my dad had one of these when i was a kid!!! he had to put a big rock in it to balance it…how funny.

  2. Anonymous

    i have never seen or heard of these before.

    but, this image helped me a lot.

    did you look like this guy??


  3. ben

    yes amanda, that’s exactly it. thanks for the visual. it brings the experience to life (except instead of a guy with a mustache, it was me, and instead of rocking smoothly back and forth, I was stuck and hanging upside down…)

  4. jumper

    ha! great gravity site! it’s like doing sit-ups without having to use your abs.

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