Biomechanics is understanding movement of the human body. Analyzing how our body moves can help maintain physical health, decrease risk of injury, and even improve movement patterns. We can use biomechanics to help our bodies HEAL! Many turn to external methods such as medicine, braces, orthotics to alleviate pain. How about we change the continuum and optimize how the body moves to feel and live better! Yogger has set out to just do that – help physical therapists analyze movement outside and inside of the clinic.
The human body is like a machine. We essentially function how levers work on a machine. A lever consists of a beam/bar, fulcrum, force, and load. Bones are the beam, joints are the fulcrum, muscles contract to provide the force, and the load is the weight of the body part and/or any external weight. This is all to say – a strong knowledge of biomechanics is the foundation in answering clinical questions related to human movement.
Physical therapists are experts in the movement system and utilize the principles of biomechanics (analyzing movement) to help patients move and feel better while doing the things they need for daily life, like standing up from a chair, or doing things they love to do, like running a marathon. You may think standing up from a chair is easy, but try to stand up from a chair without leaning forward or having your feet closer to the chair; it’s hard! Even the simplest task such as sit to stand can be analyzed and improved for people that are having a hard time.
Reasons and examples on why biomechanics matter:
- Poor hip strength: If the hips don’t have enough force from the muscles, the joint cannot move through its full range of motion. This can come into play when you’re doing a goblet squat in the gym or trying to squat down to get something out of a low cabinet.
- Posture: The way the body aligns can change the center of mass and how the joint works. Try lifting your arm up toward the sky with your back hunched over – it’s hard right? Now, try lifting your arm up standing straight – a lot easier? This is how good posture can improve movement!
- Prevention of Injury: Looking at movement and fixing an issue before it causes injury is a lot easier and cheaper than waiting for something to sprain/strain/tear or even just cause pain. Biomechanics can help catch the issue before having to use medicine, surgery, or long-term rehabilitation of an injury.
A problem many physical therapists have is being able to obtain data to provide a biomechanical analysis. We assume that a biomechanical analysis is expensive and can only be done in a laboratory with force plates. How can clinicians apply the principles of biomechanics in the clinic? The key is to change our thought process. To incorporate biomechanics we have to look at the whole body and not just one joint at a time. Assessing functional tasks such as a sit to stand, a squat, and gait is a start to incorporating biomechanics. Is hip pain during a squat due to limited ankle motion? Is the lateral shift in gait due to weak gluteals? Ultimately, we need to be able to connect impairments to the big picture of human movement, and that is how we can begin using the principles of biomechanics in the clinic.
Advances in technology can help quantify movement easier. We can analyze movement patterns, and applications such as Yogger can help quantify that data. Let’s change the way we view injury and preventative care. Let’s not just treat the symptoms, but correct the way you move. Let’s resolve problems, not mask them. Biomechanics is key.