when you pick something up that is lighter than you expected, why do you feel like someone pushed you back?

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I think maybe it has to do with you giving too much force or something, but why do you end up being thrown back instead of if sort of balancing out when you realize it’s lighter than you thought?

In: Physics

Your brain is pretty good at judging your weight balance and positioning itself right to counter lifting an object. Just one of those skills you develop over time. But if the guess is off and you have too much weight back it all gets thrown off: you’re doing it to yourself but it’s off the expectation and startles us

What you don’t realize is that there is a lot of motion that goes into lifting something. It isn’t just hands or arms. It’s an entire shift of your body.
Your brain makes a judgement call and shifts such that the new weight you have picked up will balance you out.
If this new weight is lighter than expected, the shift is too much. Really, you threw yourself backward, so when the object isn’t heavy enough to balance you, it feels like someone pushed you back. But you did it to yourself.

You can use your legs to pick something up or your can use your back. Most often, people will use both. You are expecting more work than necessary so you position yourself in anticipation. As you put extra effort into the lift, it takes you further than expected – and now your back is in a position where you have less balance. It is in that moment of realize that you have lost balance, that your mind pays very particular attention, maybe even startled when you consider you were expecting to be balanced!