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Walking a tightrope

Its an art that has enthralled people for centuries. While performers such as Nik Wallenda, who will be walking a wire across Niagara Falls tonight, make it look easy, it takes a lot of time and patience to master the art. In case you want to give it a shot, here are some tips.

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Two principles of physics contribute to a funambulists stability: The pole increases the funambulist's moment of inertia. The downward bend of the pole lowers the funambulists centre of gravity.

THE POLE

PRACTICE

Remember, practice makes perfect. So before walking the wire, practice on the ground.

WIRE WALKING
When learning to walk, the key is to set up your rope only a few inches from the ground and make sure that you either have someone to catch you or something soft to land on.

2-3 inches

23ft. long
and weighs about

Wallenda uses a poll thats

Practice by balancing on one foot Practice walking position

Place your feet at an angle. Curl your foot around the rope to make yourself more stable. Put your arms out to the side or hold a long, thin pole.

45lbs.

Look straight ahead Make sure your arms are perpendicular

Keep your body straight

Why? This increases your moment of inertia, which means that you accelerate more slowly when a turning force is applied to you. This way, if your center of gravity moves outside of your feet, you will begin falling much more slowly than if you had your arms by your side, giving you time to correct your balance before it's too late!

Keep your whole body straight and sti .

Only the pole and your legs should move.

45 minutes
ON THE WIRE
Tightrope walkers typically perform in very thin and exible leather-soled slippers with a full-length suede or leather sole to protect the feet from abrasions and bruises while still allowing the foot to curve around the wire. Amateur, hobbyist and inexperienced funambulists (tightrope walkers) will often walk barefoot so that the wire can be grasped between the big and second toe. This is more often done when using a rope, as the softer and silkier bers are less taxing on the bare foot than the harder and more abrasive braided wire.

Wallenda expects it will take him to walk the

550m steel cable


SUSAN BATSFORD, GRAPHICS EDITOR, TWITTER @SBATS1; INFOGRAPHIC BY TARA CORRAN/QMI AGENCY