Fundamentals of Biomechanics and Qualitative Analysis

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Abstract

In Chapter 1 we found that biomechanics provides tools that are needed to analyze human motion, improve performance, and reduce the risk of injury. In order to facilitate the use of these biomechanical tools, this text will emphasize the qualitative understanding of mechanical concepts. Many chapters, however, will include some quantitative examples using the algebraic definitions of the mechanical variables being discussed. Mathematical formulas are a precise language and are most helpful in showing the importance, interactions, and relationships between biomechanical variables. While more rigorous calculus forms of these equations provide the most accurate answers commonly used by scientists (Beer & Johnson, 1984; Hamill & Knutzen, 1995; Zatsiorsky, 1998, 2002), the majority of kinesiology majors will benefit most from a qualitative understanding of these mechanical concepts. So this chapter begins with key mechanical variables and terminology essential for introducing other biomechanical concepts. This chapter will emphasize the conceptual understanding of these mechanical variables and leave more detailed development and quantitative examples for later in the text. Next, nine general principles of biomechanics are introduced that will be developed throughout the rest of the text. These principles use less technical language and are the tools for applying biomechanical knowledge in the qualitative analysis of human movement. The chapter concludes by summarizing a model of qualitative analysis that is used in the application section of the book.