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You’re a Machine! Kinetic Chains and Biomechanics

Even though self-care is a relatively new concept and it has become more acceptable to take some “me time”, the advice has been present for millennia. The saying “Treat your body like a temple” was even quoted in the bible. However, the body can also be seen as a massive, complex machine. With joints, muscles, and ligaments working together, it utilises systems that help to keep it functioning as well as possible. This is the study of Biomechanics (how the body moves) and we will be discussing why everything is connected and why issues can come from the most unlikely places.

Now a machine is made up of moving parts all working together, and the body is no different. First, you have the joints, which provide the supporting structure and framework for everything to work off. Next, connecting bones to other bones, you have ligaments, which are like thick rope holding them together and providing stability and keeping the joints within their proper range of motion. Lastly, you have your muscles, which in essence are like tight bungee cords that help pull the joints and control their motion. The rest, like veins, organs, and skin, is all in essence there to allow these structures to do their job. And as long as all of these structures are working together well, the machine runs smoothly and functions fully. But what happens when they aren’t?

Say, for instance, you had one of the cords in the machine which connected from one piece to another, and controlled a particular motion, like bending the joint between them. And if that cord got used a lot over time, it would stretch until it would lose its elasticity and wouldn’t stretch back as strongly wouldn’t it? That would cause issues, and you would know that that joint wouldn't work as well as it should. This is called “Viscoelastic creep”, and occurs in muscles that are overused. Muscles that contract and hold for long periods don't release as well as they should and lose function.

However, luckily for you, you built your machine so there are a lot of cords that help do a similar job to the one that isn't working well anymore. So you can still use the machine, but not at full function. But as you start to do another function, that dysfunctional cord was also helping with this new job, so it has a bit more trouble than usual to do this job now. This puts more strain on the other cords to pick up the slack and makes them more susceptible to the same loss of elasticity, and the cycle starts to continue with each new motion. Eventually, the strain of pretty ordinary functions might overwhelm your machine, and it starts to wear down or break apart. And even though the signs were there, with the machine's computer (your nervous system) telling you that some small problems had come up because it still worked well enough, you just let them go, until they became a big problem, and harder to fix.

All of this chain reaction comes from a phenomenon called “the kinetic chain”, which, simplified, is most of what has just been explained; the body uses multiple joints, muscles, and ligaments in different areas to help with simple motions. For example, hanging from a bar uses all of the hand, forearm, upper arm, chest, and shoulder muscles, even though you are just holding the bar with your hands. Each larger muscle helps the smaller ones, and stronger joints will help take the weight off the weaker ones to make sure the body works at its optimal function.

So that is where Chiropractors step in. When your body's “check engine” light comes on, we help give your body a tune-up before the small problem turns into a part replacement. In the long run, Chiropractic care can help keep your body in good shape and improve the way your body copes with day to day stress more effectively. So if you would like to come in for a service, feel free to call on 4942 6930 to make an appointment with one of our three Chiropractors, who can let you know how much of a tune-up your body really needs.

Sources: Levin, Stephen. (2013). Closed kinematic chain mechanisms comprise the fundamental mechanics of biologic movement and stability.


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