March 21, 2017
Article 2,’B’ for biomechanics
There are several definitions of biomechanics. My favourite is from the vets!
“The application of mechanical laws to living structures.”
(From Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary.)
Horses for courses you might say. I then picked this one because it is from foot specialists:
“Biomechanics is therelationship between external forces (e.g. body weight and external environment) and internal forces (e.g. muscle contraction and passive forces exerted on local structures by bones and joints) and the resultant effect of these forces on body movement.”
(From Illustrated Dictionary of Podiatry and Foot Science)
The easiest way to explain biomechanics is to look back to the last post. In that short article I discussed the ankle and the Achilles tendon and their interconnected relationship to movement. Yes; I was using ‘the application of mechanical laws to living structures’. And sure enough it applies to ‘All creatures great and small’. (Giving my age away here, Mr Herriot!).
Whatever about vets one of the leading researchers in podiatry, Dr Kevin A. Kirby says podiatrists ‘need to think like an engineer’. He goes on to say, “All podiatrists need to begin to think more like engineers to understand the abnormal tissue stresses that cause foot and lower extremity injury so they can all better improve the lives of their patients with the most effective conservative and/or surgical treatments.”
Sure enough when my son, Marc, was training as an engineer, I found in our many discussions on the subject, that the principles and terminology came from the same study of physics.
In my biomechanical assessments I try to identify as closely as possible the structure or movement that is causing the pain or other problem, and then work out the best treatment plan to relieve the discomfort. And to stick with the engineering comparison I have a well-stocked ‘toolbox’ to help me achieve my goals. Physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, orthoses, joint mobilisations, with exercise plans to stretch, strengthen and stabilise are among the many tools in my tool cache.