In the past few blog posts, word “chain” has been mentioned frequently.  The posterior chain, anterior chain, kinetic chain, your body is a chain, etc. In this post, we are going to dive a little deeper into what exactly the kinetic chain is and why it should matter to you.

“Thigh bone connected to the hip bone…”

This widely known song is the simplest way to describe the kinetic chain. Each bone in the body is connected to another bone in the body in some way.  The same goes for muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, etc. This concept of the kinetic chain was adapted from the field of engineering by Arthur Steindler who suggested that our extremities should be viewed as a series of rigid, overlapping segments (AKA a chain!). He then defined the kinetic chain as a “combination of several successively arranged joints constituting a complex motor unit.” Meaning, everything works together, as one!

 

Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

We’ve all heard this saying before, and we can apply the same concept to the human body. If one area of the body isn’t working efficiently, another part is going to have to pick up the slack. Eventually, that weak link is going to break down and injury will result. The most common example of how the kinetic chain works in the body is strengthening our core to help our back. By strengthening our core, we greatly reduce our risk of low back pain/injury.

Treat the Pain or Fix the Problem?

When something hurts, our first goal is to make it feel better.  Often times, a few days of rest will get us back up on our feet. This is a “quick fix” but it is many times a short term solution. As soon as we resume normal activities, we begin experiencing the same pain. The goal of most healthcare providers is to determine the cause of the pain, and address it directly. Does our low back hurt because we can’t appropriately activate our Transverse Abdominis?  Maybe our glute muscles are weak, so our hamstrings have to overwork making them constantly tight, no matter how much you stretch them. Correcting the dysfunction will allow us to move more efficiently, and reduce our risk of further injury.

Conclusion

The body is a complex unit comprised of many different systems all working together in harmony. If we have a weakness or deficiency in one area, there is a good chance that another will be affected.

Sources:

  1. Karandikar N, Vargas OO. Kinetic chains: a review of the concept and its clinical applications. PM and R. 2011 Aug 31;3(8):739-45
  2. Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercise: a comprehensive guide to multiple joint exercise. Human Kinetics; 2001. Available From: http://bit.ly/1NunaL7
  3. http://www.fleetfeethartford.com/sports%20medicine/%20compensation%20patterns
  4. https://www.projecttimes.com/media/k2/items/cache/1f9e52f5766a7a5e24af756d4d3b3708_XL.jpg.
  5. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/resource-center/exam-preparation-blog/2929/what-is-a-kinetic-chain
  6. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Kinetic_Chain#cite_note-p9-2