The Benefits of Studying Biomechanics in Everyday Life

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There has been a rising demand on expanding human understanding and knowledge of biomechanics. Many scientists specializing in different fields of science – biology, kinesiology, engineering, and physics, are interested in studying biomechanics. According to Knudson (2007), biomechanics is becoming more interesting because people marvel at the ability and beauty of human and animal movement.

In the world of sports, biomechanics has been applied greatly because of its ability to analyze sports movements in order to decrease the athlete’s risk to certain injuries and improve their overall performance. But this does not apply in sports exclusively. Our understanding of biomechanics is needed for our daily activities. As humans, we are not immune to injuries and we are not at all times in our maximum performance. Biomechanics is essential to know how forces can create our movement and how this can affect our performance.

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Improving Performance

The science of improving our performance involves neuromuscular skills, physiological capabilities, cognitive abilities and anatomical factors. Of course, it is hard to go through all of these. Well, biomechanics offer a simplified understanding onto how we can improve our performance by understanding the science of our movements.

Most professionals prescribe the use of techniques and instructions of biomechanics in improving performance. According to Knudson (2007), biomechanics is most useful in improving the performance of an athlete through improving the technique rather than relying on physiological capacity and physical built. Therefore, human movement is the most important contributor to performance.

According to a study, a coach was observing a gymnast in which the coach noticed that the gymnast poorly performed the angle of takeoff from the round-off and body arch. Prior to that, the gymnast has problems with her back handspring, although, the gymnast is physically fit and has a perfect built for the sport. The coach decided to improve her techniques. The coach’s background with biomechanics helped him instruct the gymnast on working on her “arch” following the round-off which resulted in the improved performance of the gymnast.

Another example is a coach observing another gymnast completing a double somersault in the floor exercise. In order to improve the gymnast’s performance, the coach suggested jumping higher, tucking tighter and swinging her arms vigorously before takeoff. Based on the principles of biomechanics, jumping higher allows the gymnast to have access to more air in completing the somersault. Tucking tighter promotes faster rotation because the angular momentum is being conserved. Lastly, swinging the arms more vigorously generates more angular momentum.

Teachers and coaches are encouraged to learn biomechanics. It will help them to correct actions of the athletes in executing the skills and acts perfectly. According to Peter McGinnis in his book Biomechanics of Sports and Exercise, coaches can use qualitative biomechanical analysis in everyday teaching to improve the technique of the athletes, resulting in better performance. It will also allow them to discover new techniques.

Another way in which biomechanics can help in improving performance is integrating it in exercise and conditioning programs. Biomechanics was used by experts in developing exercise programs and training devices to improve performance. Strength and conditioning professionals apply the principle of biomechanics in training athletes. Biomechanics research also leads to the development of new techniques.

One popular research of biomechanics that changed the sport of swimming was the study done by Ronald Brown and James “Doc” Counsilman in 1971. They indicated that the lift forces acting on one hand as it moved through the water is the key in propelling a swimmer through the water. Thus, instead of pulling the hand in a straight line backward, the swimmer should move his or her hand back and forth to produce propulsive life and drag forces. This technique in swimming has dramatically improved the way swimmers should swim through the water.

Other examples were new techniques discovered in improving javelin throwing, high-jumping, and cross-country-skiing, among others.

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Preventing and Treating Injury

Biomechanics is also useful in promoting movement safety and injury prevention. Sports injury and medicine professionals studied the cases of injuries endured by athletes to know and identify what caused the injuries and how to prevent them. They have found out that the application of biomechanics can help in reducing the risk of the athletes from getting injuries. According to Knudson (2007), biomechanics provide knowledge on the mechanical properties of tissues, muscles, and bones that will help coaches and trainers in providing preventive measures and rehabilitative therapies.

According to Boden, Griffin & Garret (2000), female athletes are more vulnerable to anterior cruciate ligament injuries than males. The primary factor that these researchers attribute to the injury is biomechanical factors. Thus, they continued integrating biomechanics in sports medicine and therapy to find out why female athletes are more at risk of this type of injury.

Moreover, occupational therapists and surgeons use biomechanics in devising equipment that will prevent the onset of injuries not just to athletes, but to everyone. Specially-designed running shoes have been developed through the principles of biomechanics. Further, the invention of helmets for motorcycle riders was based on biomechanics. Researchers studied auto accidents and applied biomechanical testing. Thus, they designed helmets to protect the important parts of the head during a collision or accident.

On the other hand, severe accidents that result to body deformities or worst the amputation of certain parts can be addressed through biomechanics. To allow humans to continue its function in walking or moving their arms, they devised prosthetics. Prosthetics followed mechanical properties which match the movement of the human body. Because of prosthetics, disabled individuals are now able to function very well.

Other applications of biomechanics in preventing and treating injury include forensic biomechanics and orthotics. Forensic biomechanics specialize in reconstructing the origin of injuries from basing it to accidental accounts and measurements. On the other hand, biomechanics aid in the development of assistive devices or orthotics. Orthotics are objects that are used to support or correct deformities in the body, including joints. Orthotics may come in braces and large assistive devices like canes or walkers. Moreover, biomechanics help therapists in performing rehabilitative exercises.

The Figures behind the Birth of Knowledge of Biomechanics

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Have you heard of the word “biomechanics”? Probably, you have encountered this term from a sports injury specialist. The science of biomechanics is greatly applied in sports to improve an athlete’s performance. But above that, biomechanics offers more functions that are essential for our daily living. Let us get to know more about biomechanics.

What is Biomechanics?

Basically, biomechanics comes from the words biology and mechanics. It involves the study of the structure and function of the biological systems and the methods of mechanics. Hatze (1974) specifies the movement of the living things – humans, animals, plants, and cells, among others. In biomechanics, it studies motion and how forces affect living things.

Biomechanics is only one of the many sub-disciplines of kinesiology. Kinesiology is the whole scholarly area of human movement study – physiological, biomechanical and psychological movements.

Biomechanics has plenty of interpretation because there are many researchers who have worked in this field. Despite the differences of views, they agreed on the number of fundamental disciplines involved in the study of biomechanics. This includes biology, physiology, anatomy, mathematics, and physics.

How did Biomechanics start?

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The history of biomechanics and kinesiology can be traced back to the time of Socrates. He was a classical Greek philosopher between 469 BC and 399 BC. He was notable as the first philosopher who inquired about the human nature and its relationship to the world. According to Socrates, humans could not understand the world if they cannot understand their nature. This human inquiry opened the knowledge of the mechanics within human bodies.


After the death of Socrates, his student Plato emerged and was considered as the most pivotal figure in the development of Western philosophy. He believed that mathematics is greatly involved in understanding the nature of the human world. His conceptualization of mathematics has contributed greatly to the understanding of biomechanics.


At the age of 17, Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) pursed to study at Plato’s academy. He was notable for his remarkable interest in anatomy and the structure of living things. He studied the parts of animals, its movements, and progressions. He used the animals’ actions to further the study of geometric analysis. He wrote his research on his first book called “De Motu Animalium” which translates to On the Movement of Animals. Apart from studying animals’ bodies as mechanical systems, he inquired the physiological difference between thinking about the action and actually performing the action. With all these accounts, Aristotle was considered the Father of Kinesiology. He was also noted as the first ever biomechanist. In this era, biomechanics was born.


Archimedes, another Greek studied on the hydrostatic principles of a human body floating in the water. His inquiries included the understanding of the laws of leverage, the center of gravity and the foundation of the ethical mechanics.


During the rise of the Roman Empire, technology outshone natural philosophy. The second-century anatomist Galen studied on the functions of the parts of human body. His book was used as the world’s standard for medical text. He also wrote an essay that distinguished motor from sensory nerves. Some scientists considered that his publication was the first textbook on kinesiology. He was also considered the “father of sports medicine.”

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Leonardo da Vinci

After the death of Galen, the study of kinesiology was halted. There were no further studies on sciences conducted until the Renaissance era. In the 15th-century Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) emerged. He was a famous artist, but he also dedicated his life as a scientist and engineer. Da Vinci was particularly interested in the structure of human bodies and its relationship to performance, the center of gravity, balance and the center of resistance. He analyzed the relationship between muscle forces and joint functions. Moreover, he published works on military and civil engineering projects and created imaginative inventions which contributed to the understanding of biomechanics. He studied acceleration of falling objects, components of force vectors and friction coefficients. Da Vinci was considered a biomechanist for his essential contributions to the knowledge of biomechanics.

Andreas Vesalius

In 1543, the Flemish physician Andreas Vesalius challenged the works of Galen’s anatomical hegemony. He published his aesthetical book On the Fabric of the Human Body. It illustrated the structure and the anatomical view of the human body, including the muscles, bones, and organs. Vesalius was considered the father of modern human anatomy.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus was famous for formulating the model of the universe that placed the Sun at the center of the universe, rather than the Earth. His desire to explain the orbits of the heavenly spheres contributed to the development of biomechanics. He also introduced mathematical reason which debunked Aristotle’s common sense physics.

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Galileo Galilei

Galilei was one of the most brilliant scientists in the history of mankind. He was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, physicist, philosopher, and engineer. He was noted as the “father of observational astronomy”, “father of modern physics” and “the father of science”. He was popular for his study of speed, velocity, projectile motion, relativity, inertia, and most especially, gravity and free fall.

But above that, Galileo was considered the father of mechanics because of his major contribution to biomechanics. He spent his time studying the mechanical aspects of bone structure and allometry (statistical shape analysis). His findings include why marine animals are larger than most terrestrial animals because of their water’s buoyancy that relieves their tissues of weight.

Galileo also introduced to us the scientific method which we use in examining facts critically and determining cause and effect relationships.

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli

Borelli also worked as a mathematician, physicist, and physiologist. He developed the scientific method of Galileo. His major contribution to biomechanics was his study on the mechanics of animal locomotion. He also investigated the stomatal movement of plants through microscopy.

Marcello Malpighi

Lastly, Malpighi who was considered the “father of embryology” and “father of microscopical anatomy” expanded the understanding of biomechanics in his approach to medicine. According to him, mechanics was the key to understanding the functioning of the human body rather than chemistry.

International Society of Biomechanics (ISB): An Introduction

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The International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) has been a renowned international science organization that promotes the understanding of biomechanics all around the world. The ISB has toured across continents and nations to unite the scientists and researchers to expand the knowledge of biomechanics.

When did ISB start?

In September 29, 1971, scientists gathered at the 3rd International Seminar on Biomechanics held in Rome. The assembly was organized by a group under International Council of Sport and Physical Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At the meeting, the majority of the scientists and researchers voted to create the International Society of Biomechanics during the next meeting.

On August 26, 1973, the 4th International Seminar on Biomechanics took place at Penn State University. On the 29th, the creation of ISB was approved. August 30, 1973 was the official founding anniversary of the ISB. 250 of those present during the voting automatically became charter members of ISB.

Since its founding, the society has grown to more than 1,000 members.

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Who governs the society?

An executive council governs the society. The council is elected every two years by mail ballot. The executive council is composed of the president, secretary-general, treasurers, newsletter editors, other officers and council members. They represent countries across the world and various scientific sub-fields and areas within biomechanics. The council meets every year to provide leadership for the continued growth and development of the ISB.

The first president of the ISB was JurgWartenweiler of Switzerland who served from 1973 to 1977. Today, the current executive council is presided by Joe Hamill of the United States. He is a Professor and Associate Dean of Research for the School of Public Health and Health Sciences of the Department of Kinesiology of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Overall, there are 21 presidents in the history of ISB.

What do the ISB work?

The International Society of Biomechanics promotes the study and understanding of all areas of biomechanics. They have established a connection with scientists across the globe who will take an active part in disseminating knowledge and conducting activities of national organizations related to the field of biomechanics.

The ISB believes that biomechanics plays a vital role in expanding the knowledge of all biological systems, from the level of humans down to the molecular size scales. In understanding the science and application of biomechanics, the society’s members also include scientists from different fields of studies. This includes anatomy, physiology, orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, sports science, ergonomics, electrophysiological kinesiology, and engineering (biomedical, mechanical and mechatronics), among others.

They also support technical and working groups that specialize in 3-D motion analysis, computer simulation, shoulder biomechanics, hand and wrist biomechanics, footwear biomechanics and motor control group, among others.  They help in enhancing knowledge of specialized facets within biomechanics.

The ISB provides for affiliate memberships of international organizations that specialize in biomechanics. This includes:

  • American Society of Biomechanics
  • Australia/New Zealand Society of Biomechanics
  • Brazilian Society of Biomechanics
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • Bulgarian Society of Biomechanics
  • Canadian Society of Biomechanics
  • Chinese Society of Sports Biomechanics
  • Czech Society of Biomechanics
  • Danish Society of Biomechanics
  • German Society of Biomechanics
  • Hellenic Society of Biomechanics (Greece)
  • International Society of Biomechanics in Sports
  • Japanese Society of Biomechanics
  • Korean Society for Orthopaedic Research, Biomechanics, and Basic Science
  • Polish Society of Biomechanics
  • Portuguese Society of Biomechanics
  • Russian Society of Biomechanics
  • Societe de Biomecanique (France)
  • Taiwanese Society of Biomechanics

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What is the International Congress on Biomechanics?

The International Congress on Biomechanics is one of the major activities of the society. It is a biennial congress that provides a unique opportunity for participants across the world to gain understanding about biomechanics, contribute to its knowledge, and discuss key factors. Of course, it promotes camaraderie between scientists and researchers.

The first International Congress on Biomechanics was held in Zurich, Switzerland in 1967, before the official founding of the International Society of Biomechanics. It was followed by Netherlands and Italy in 1969 and 1971, respectively. When the ISB was created in 1973, the 4th Congress was held at State College in the United States.

The most recent congress was held in Brisbane, Australia on July 23 to 27, 2017. It was the 26th International Congress on Biomechanics. The Congress assembled incredible speakers, including Professor Jaap van Dieën of the Netherlands, Associate Professor Silvia Blemker of the United States, Professor Deborah Falla of Australia and Professor Chwee Teck Lim of Singapore, among others.

ISB 2015 in Glasgow

The 25th Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics was held at The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) here in Glasgow, United Kingdom. It was the first time that Glasgow and the United Kingdom hosted the said congress. The 25th Congress also took place along with the anniversary of the bio-engineering unit within the BME department at Strathclyde. During the congress, topics discussed include motor control, measurement technology, sports, hip and knee biomechanics and tissue mechanics, among others. Of course, the keynote speakers came from all around the world.

Apart from the International Congress on Biomechanics, the ISB is also active in the distribution of newsletters pertaining to biomechanics. They also sponsor scientific meetings related to biomechanics. The society encourages members to be one with the planning and the organization of scientific meetings. It also sponsors lecture tours and training in economically developing countries, including Brazil, India, Tanzania, Kenya, and Venezuela, among others. Currently, they are engaged in various scientific research in these nations.

Moreover, the society sponsors grants and scholarships to scientists and researchers through their education programs at congresses and travel grants scheme. The society is affiliated with the Journals of biomechanics, applied biomechanics, clinical biomechanics, electromyography, and kinesiology.

Lastly, the society recognizes and awards scientists and researchers who have an outstanding contribution to the fields of Biomechanics. The society honors the honorary members and ISB fellows. They also provide various awards – Muybridge Award, Wartenweiler Memorial Lecture, David Winter Young Investigator Award, Clinical Biomechanics Award, Promising Scientist Award and Carlo de Luca Emerging Scientist Award, among others.