The Role of Biomechanics
Most biomechanics textbooks state there are two primary goals for biomechanics: performance enhancement, and injury prevention or rehabilitation.
Biomechanics enhance performance by utilizing mechanical principles to improve an individual’s technique, the equipment they use, and to modify specific training protocols that the coach or trainer implements to help an individual achieve their goals.
Similarly, for injury prevention and rehabilitation, biomechanics is used to develop techniques that reduce the chance of injury as well as changes in equipment design that may reduce injury.
What is the goal of a coach or personal fitness trainer? – To help trainees reach their goals in the most efficient, effective and safest way possible.
Compare this with the goals of biomechanics training – To reach goals (performance enhancement) in the most efficient, effective, and safest (injury prevention) way possible.
One of the primary goals of this chapter is to empower the coach or personal trainer with a solid foundation in biomechanics. Another is to introduce everyone to a new way of looking at exercise in general. This new perspective is:
Exercise is simply a mechanical stress placed on the body to which the body will adapt.
In order to understand this new perspective and its importance, one must be willing to accept several premises.
The primary physiological effects of exercise (both good and bad) are in direct response to the mechanical stress placed on the body.
Exercise can be seen as a mechanical stress (Force/Area), placed on the body where the body must accept forces from external sources and respond by creating the appropriate internal forces (from the muscles and connective tissue) to create the appropriate movement.
The stimulus of these stressors (both externally and internally), stimulate the physiological adaptations within the body. These physiological adaptations may be structural (adaptations to connective tissue such as muscle, bone, and fascia) or functional (neuromuscular adaptations – i.e. motor learning).
In order to facilitate the proper adaptations for our trainees, we have to understand forces, how they are applied (how much, in what direction, over what range of motion and at what speed), and how the tissues of the body will adapt to those forces.
Put simply, understanding forces and their effects are at the core of physical training ideologies. Coaches and trainers must remember, there are forces on us all the time (whether something is moving or not). If there is movement, there is a force that caused that movement.
Proper understanding and implementation of biomechanics are essential in all aspects of training (Assess – Design – Instruct- Reassess).
You will find that much of the assessment process consists of postural and movement assessments.
These assessments are looking at how the client’s body has adapted to forces imposed upon it over time. These assessments may indicate certain kinetic chain imbalances (short/tight muscles on one side of a joint) that need to be addressed.
Understanding how the body is going to adapt to the biomechanical stress place upon it is essential to program design.
The exercises are chosen (and how they will be implemented) are based on the client’s goals and needs and your knowledge of how to make them adapt safely and efficiently.
Once the exercises are chosen, exercise instructions are the area where most coaches and personal trainers associate the importance of biomechanics. Put simply, understanding basic biomechanics is the basis of instructing proper technique.