Bio: Life, Living Systems
Mechanics: the branch of applied mathematics dealing with motion, and forces producing motion.
Biomechanics is the study of structure, forces, and the effects of forces on structure.
So what does that have to do with exercise and sport? Well… actually everything!
Every exercise in which you participate, every movement, every effort to prevent motion, and every physical challenge involves your human structure and very real forces!
Pursuing a deeper understanding of human structure and function, external forces applied to the structure, and the internal forces and responses that occur as a result, are what will give us real and solid perspective from which to analyze and progress exercise. Viewing exercise from a biomechanical perspective will help us to become immune to much of the pseudoscience, gym myths, and fallacies that continue to mislead the vast majority of the sports and exercise world (even the so-called “experts”).
Think for a moment – Why do you exercise? What outcome/adaptations are you pursuing?
Do you exercise for a physiological result? For a hormonal result? For a cardiac result? For an emotional result? There are many different possible reasons/outcomes we desire from our physical activities, but that’s just it – they are PHYSICAL. They are physical first, and the physiological/chemical/emotional outcomes are the potential result of that physical interaction. How could we really understand PHYSICAL activity at any significant level if we dismiss the very real physics involved?
Q: For the trainer / coach, what does biomechanics give us that could possibly be useful?
A: Real, tangible and objective data. Biomechanics in essence is derived from physics. And when we are talking about physics, we are now talking about mathematics. This is the closest thing to certainty we have within the body. 1+1 will always be 2, no matter what your opinion is. – Michael Goulden, Integra
What if you have offended/violated your structure/tissues in pursuit of that emotional outcome you were chasing?
What if your joint integrity is compromised from that series of exercises you put yourself through in order to achieve that alleged hormonal/chemical outcome you were pursuing?
When your tissues, motion, or exertion become compromised from repetitive noxious stresses, how do you plan to continue participating in those activities?
If your joint tissues are compromised, you’ll have fewer training opportunities. With fewer training opportunities, you’ll begin to lose many of the training adaptations/results you’ve worked so hard to obtain.
With an understanding of biomechanics and exercise mechanics, you can make better decisions. You can be more targeted and specific. You can reap the same, or greater, benefit, and you can “stay in the game” longer. If you want to continue to participate in the activity, you’d be wise to train within your joint ROM limits, construct smart exercises that impose higher forces in your stronger/more durable positions, with lower imposed forces in your weaker/more vulnerable positions, and progress wisely (and as needed).
Know Torque… Know Exercise. No Torque?…No Exercise.
If you’d like to begin the process of learning about biomechanics & objective exercise decision-making, but you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a few points to explore, in order begin understanding the often overlooked, but absolutely critical, physical factors that relate to exercise.
- Moment Arm
- Resistance Profile
- The implications of inertia, speed/and changes in speed
- Understanding the properties of the forces we use as resistance: weight, elastomers, compression, COM
- Factors that influence Range of Motion
Looking for more? Live & in-depth exploration of exercise mechanics RTS program.