This article uses an anchor metaphor to explain the dynamic interplay between the human body's active uses of nonrigid tools to mediate information about its adjacent environment to enhance postural control. The author used an “anchor” system (e.g., ropes attached to varying weights resting on the floor) to test blindfolded adults who performed a restricted-balance task (30 s one-foot standing). Participants were tested while holding the anchors under a variety of weight conditions (125 g, 250 g, 500 g, and 1 kg) and again during a baseline condition (no anchors). When compared with the baseline condition, there was a significant reduction in the amount of body sway across the anchor conditions. The author found that mechanical support provided by the anchor system was secondary to its haptic exploratory function and that an individual can use the anchoring strategy with a dual purpose: for resting and for reorientation after intrinsic disruptions.
The author is with the State University of São Paulo, Brazil.