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Introduction to Biomechanics

Objectives: • Define basic concepts in biomechanics • Provide an overview of the sports and clinical applications of biomechanics

What is Biomechanics?
• Mechanics
the study of the action of forces on particles and mechanical systems; a branch of physics

• System
an object or group of interacting objects

• Biomechanics
application of the principles of mechanics to the study of living organisms (e.g. the human body and its parts)


Sub-branches of Mechanics
• Statics
branch of mechanics dealing with systems in a constant state of motion; includes systems that are: – at rest (i.e. not moving) – moving with a constant velocity

• Dynamics
branch of mechanics dealing with systems in which acceleration is present (i.e. where velocity is not constant)

Subdivisions of Mechanics
• Kinematics
the description of motion, including: – considerations of space and time – patterns and speeds of movement sequencing the forces causing the motion are not considered

• Kinetics
study of the relationship between the forces acting on a system and the motion of the system


Additional Terminology
• Kinesiology
the study of human movement

(Hall, 2003)

• Anthropometry
study of the mechanical properties of body segments (e.g. dimension, weight, etc.)

Who Uses Biomechanics?
• • • • • • • Phys.Ed. Teachers Coaches Athletic Trainers Physicians Physical Therapists Engineers Researchers


What is Biomechanics Used For? Improving Sports Performance




equipment (e.g. klapskates)

Sports Injury Prevention
applied force > tissue strength → injury

(Oregon State)



protective equipment


Occupational Injury Prevention

(Ohio State)

(Ohio State)

hand & wrist trauma

low back pain

Injury Rehabilitation
FORCES Passive motion Strength training Biking TIME Full wt.bearing Squats Running Jumping Cutting



Reducing Physical or Functional Declines



falls in older adults

effects of space flight

Improving Mobility


surgery planning in cerebral palsy


Product Design



athletic shoes


artificial hip

Why Study Biomechanics?
• Biomechanics: – has many and wide-ranging applications within health and sport sciences – is used by professionals throughout health and sport sciences • This course will provide a foundation for: – understanding the mechanical principles underlying human movement – applying these principles to the analysis of human movement • Understanding biomechanics will make you a more competent professional !