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∗ We thank Jason Agosta who contributed the biomechanics elements in the first three editions of Clinical Sports Medicine




Dana Way (biomechanist) is a fundamental part of our team—if you’re not using a biomechanics and video review, you’re at a huge disadvantage in Olympic-level competition.

Athletics Canada head coach, Alex Gardiner


The term “biomechanics” can be used in a variety of ways. In this book, biomechanics refers to the description, analysis, and assessment of human movement during sporting activities.1 There are skeletal, muscular, and neurological considerations when describing biomechanics. This chapter focuses on the actual movement occurring in the body segments (technically known as “kinematics”), rather than the forces that are driving the movement (“kinetics”). Our approach can be referred to as “subjective biomechanical analysis.” We aim to describe movement such as running, squatting, or the tennis serve as it appears to visual observation. This reflects how clinicians assess and treat, and it can be done without expensive laboratory equipment.


The aims of this chapter are to:


  • outline the basics of “ideal” lower limb biomechanics for the novice

  • explain the ideal biomechanics with running

  • describe lower limb biomechanical assessment in the clinical setting

  • outline how to clinically assess footwear

  • review the best available evidence associating biomechanical factors with injuries, as well as sharing clinical opinions as to which technical factors in sports contribute to specific injuries

  • discuss how to manage biomechanical abnormalities detected in the assessment

  • review the biomechanics of other common activities—cycling, throwing, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and waterpolo.


We address lower limb and upper limb biomechanics separately for the learner’s convenience; however, the experienced clinician will consider the close relationship between the upper and lower limbs during a variety of functional tasks.


“Ideal” lower limb biomechanics—the basics


Here we discuss ideal structural characteristics, including available joint range of motion, and stance position. Note that each individual has his or her own mechanical make-up due to structural characteristics (anatomy), and may never achieve the “ideal” position or biomechanical function.


A guide to lower limb joint ranges of motion when in neutral positions is shown in Table 8.1. The anatomical planes of the body are shown in Figure 8.1.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 8.1

A guide to lower limb joint ranges of motion when in neutral positions

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