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After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Define the terms biomechanics, statics, dynamics, kinematics, and kinetics, and explain the ways in which they are related.
  • Describe the scope of scientific inquiry addressed by biomechanists.
  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative approaches for analyzing human movement.
  • Explain how to formulate questions for qualitative analysis of human movement.
  • Use the 11 steps identified in the chapter to solve formal problems.

Why do some golfers slice the ball? How can workers avoid developing low back pain? What cues can a physical education teacher provide to help students learn the underhand volleyball serve? Why do some elderly individuals tend to fall? We have all admired the fluid, graceful movements of highly skilled performers in various sports. We have also observed the awkward first steps of a young child, the slow progress of an injured person with a walking cast, and the hesitant, uneven gait of an elderly person using a cane. Virtually every activity class includes a student who seems to acquire new skills with utmost ease and a student who trips when executing a jump or misses the ball when attempting to catch, strike, or serve. What enables some individuals to execute complex movements so easily, while others appear to have difficulty with relatively simple movement skills?

Although the answers to these questions may be rooted in physiological, psychological, or sociological issues, the problems identified are all biomechanical in nature. This book will provide a foundation for identifying, analyzing, and solving problems related to the biomechanics of human movement.

Learning to walk is an ambitious task from a biomechanical perspective.

During the early 1970s, the international community adopted the term biomechanics to describe the science involving the study of biological systems from a mechanical perspective (42). Biomechanists use the tools of mechanics, the branch of physics involving analysis of the actions of forces, to study the anatomical and functional aspects of living organisms (Figure 1-1). Statics and dynamics are two major subbranches of mechanics. Statics is the study of systems that are in a state of constant motion, that is, either at rest (with no motion) or moving with a constant velocity. Dynamics is the study of systems in which acceleration is present.

Figure 1-1

Biomechanics uses the principles of mechanics for solving problems related to the structure and function of living organisms.

Kinematics and kinetics are further subdivisions of biomechanical study. Kinematics is the description of motion, including the pattern and speed of movement sequencing by the body segments that often translates to the degree of coordination an individual displays. Whereas kinematics describes the appearance of motion, kinetics is the study of the forces associated with motion. The study of human ...

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