Technique for keeping balance on a moving train

…without holding onto anything…

Once in a while when standing in a subway car, I’m faced with the dilemma of either reaching around/over/through someone to grab a handle or simply keeping my balance with no assistance. Over the years, I’ve come up with a technique for performing the latter without hurting anyone or embarrassing myself. In NY subways, there is no consistency on the quickness of the start or abruptness of the stop, which makes this pretty difficult, especially since you can’t see anything outside the train in Manhattan.

Here what I do:

I stand with my feet about shoulder length apart and keep my feet diagonal to either side of the car (not parallel or perpendicular), and face the direction of the inertia. So when the train is about to start, I face the rear (but still with my feet at 45 degrees. When the train is moving, I change the position of my feet 90 degrees and face the front ( again, still at 45 degrees from the sides). I always turn my feel slightly outward and slightly bend my knees. Just slightly of course, since I don’t want to look like a surfer. And then the main trick: I lean forward so that there’s more weight on the balls of my feet (relative to the heels) than normal. And I also try to remain light on my feet and flexible in my knees and hips to counter any lateral movement of train (sometimes they rock or shift tracks). It’s actually a pretty good workout since I end up using all of the muscles in my legs.

This technique has served me well. I’m wondering of anyone else has any other techniques.

if you faced to the side of the car you wouldn’t have to change direction between starting and stopping. put force on the leg needed for acceleration or deceleration. leaning when needed in curves, to lean back flex your knees forward.

good exercise.

That’s exactly what I do… feet in a line that’s diagonal to the movement is key.

Because some of the lateral car movements are pretty sudden (such as those from uneven tracks and track shifts), I found that facing the sides makes a sudden shift in which I’m forced backwards difficult to handle. I end up having to take a step back, which could mean stepping on someone. My goal is to not be forced by the train to move my feet.

The 45 degree angle thing works great. I still hold on, though.

Or I stand perpendicular to where my hand is holding on.

I have also used the diagonal method for subways and commuter rail. Works really well most of the time.

I carry a cane style umbrella. When the train is starting or stopping, I stand with my right foot half a pace back and the umbrella in my right hand, pressed to the ground forward and to my right, so that the three points (my two feet and the tip of the umbrella) form a more or less equilateral triangle. Tripods don’t fall over so easily.

Actually, I just sit down most of the journey. It’s a commuter train, but there are usually seats available.

I do the opposite. I let the people I’m crammed up against prop me up.

I’ve always found that if one is available, a seat is the best option.

There is nothing, literally nothing you can do to remain upright unassisted on the DC metro as the train approaches the platform.

Inch forward…SLAM ON THE BRAKES…inch forward…SLAM ON THE BRAKES…

I’ve had the best luck with placing my feet perpendicular to each other, legs spread a little more than shoulder width apart. Left foot pointing in the direction of travel, right foot pointing 90 degrees to the right. But it’s rare that I need to do that, and usually on the bus. On the train I can usually at least lean on a pole or divider near the doors even if it’s awkward to grab a pole.

That’s a fencing stance, and i do the same when needed.

Just don’t jump when the train is moving fast. If you do: SPLAT against the back of the carriage.

I do more or less what the OP does except that I face to the side and I flex my knees to about a 30° bend and crouch over a little bit; and as the train starts to brake I bend my knees more. It’s pretty stable.