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At the conclusion of this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • 1. Define the terms mechanics and biomechanics, and differentiate between them.
  • 2. Define the terms kinematics, kinetics, statics, and dynamics, and state how each relates to the structure of biomechanics study.
  • 3. Convert the units of measurement employed in the study of biomechanics from the U.S. system to the metric system, and vice versa.
  • 4. Describe the nature of scalar and vector quantities, and identify such quantities as one or the other.
  • 5. Demonstrate the use of the graphic method for the combination and resolution of two-dimensional vectors.
  • 6. Demonstrate the use of the trigonometric method for the combination and resolution of two-dimensional vectors.
  • 7. Identify the scalar and vector quantities represented in individual motor skills and describe the vector quantities using vector diagrams.

In the context of this text, kinesiology is an area of study concerned with the musculoskeletal analysis of human motion and the study of mechanical principles and laws as they relate to the study of human motion. Students of human motion capable of accurately analyzing the musculoskeletal actions occurring in the execution of a movement are well on their way toward knowing what is happening during that movement. Those who have taken the further step of acquiring a working knowledge of how human motion is governed by physical laws and principles have added an additional dimension to their understanding of how and why the motion occurs as it does. Together, all this information provides a scientific foundation upon which to make appropriate decisions concerning the safest, most effective, and most efficient execution of any movement pattern. It is only through such study that definitive answers may be found concerning the “best” way for an individual to perform a skill and the reasons the method selected is indeed the best. In sport, for example, the record-breaking “form” of one athlete may or may not be appropriate for another of different body build and size. In fact, although they break records, top performers’ techniques may include actions that, if eliminated, would result in even greater performance. Unless subjected to scientific scrutiny, discrimination between the success factors and deterrent factors may be confused or not even identified.


Where forces and motion are concerned, the area of scientific study that provides accurate answers to what is happening, why it is happening, and to what extent it is happening is called mechanics. It is that branch of physics concerned with the effect that forces have on bodies and the motion pro-duced by those forces. The study of mechanics is engaged in by those people whose occupations or professions require an understanding of force, matter, space, and time. Engineers, to a large extent, are involved with the application of mechanics. Navigation, astronomy, space, and communications experts all study mechanics. The same is true of individuals concerned with the study of human ...

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