Getting Started

Published on 18/03/2015 by admin

Filed under Rheumatology

Last modified 18/03/2015

Print this page

rate 1 star rate 2 star rate 3 star rate 4 star rate 5 star
Your rating: none, Average: 0 (0 votes)

This article have been viewed 13328 times

Chapter 1

Getting Started


The origins of the word kinesiology are from the Greek kinesis, to move, and logy, to study. Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation serves as a guide to kinesiology by focusing on the anatomic and biomechanical interactions within the musculoskeletal system. The beauty and complexity of these interactions have been captured by many great artists, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Their work likely inspired the creation of the classic text Tabulae Sceleti et Musculorum Corporis Humani, published in 1747 by the anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (1697-1770). A sample of this work is presented in Figure 1-1.

The primary intent of this textbook is to provide students and clinicians with a firm foundation for the practice of physical rehabilitation. A detailed review of the anatomy of the musculoskeletal system, including its innervation, is presented as a background to the structural and functional aspects of movement and their clinical applications. Discussions are presented on both normal conditions and abnormal conditions that result from disease and trauma. A sound understanding of kinesiology allows for the development of a rational evaluation, a precise diagnosis, and an effective treatment of disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system. These abilities represent the hallmark of high quality for any health professional engaged in the practice of physical rehabilitation.

This text of kinesiology borrows heavily from three bodies of knowledge: anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology. Anatomy is the science of the shape and structure of the human body and its parts. Biomechanics is a discipline that uses principles of physics to quantitatively study how forces interact within a living body. Physiology is the biologic study of living organisms. This textbook interweaves an extensive review of musculoskeletal anatomy with selected principles of biomechanics and physiology. Such an approach allows the kinesiologic functions of the musculoskeletal system to be reasoned rather than purely memorized.


This text is divided into four sections. Section I: Essential Topics of Kinesiology includes Chapters 1 to 4. To get the reader started, Chapter 1 provides many of the fundamental concepts and terminology related to kinesiology. A glossary is provided at the end of Chapter 1 with definitions of these fundamental concepts and terms. Chapters 2 to 4 describe the necessary background regarding the mechanics of joints, physiology of muscle, and review of applied biomechanics.

The material presented in Section I sets forth the kinesiologic foundation for the more anatomic- and regional-based chapters included in Sections II to IV. Section II (Chapters 5 to 8) describes the kinesiology related to the upper extremity; Section III (Chapters 9 to 11) covers the kinesiology involving primarily the axial skeleton and trunk; finally, Section IV (Chapters 12 to 15) presents the kinesiology of the lower extremity, including a closing chapter that focuses on walking.


Kinematics is a branch of mechanics that describes the motion of a body, without regard to the forces or torques that may produce the motion. In biomechanics the term body is used rather loosely to describe the entire body, or any of its parts or segments, such as individual bones or regions. In general, there are two types of motions: translation and rotation.

Translation Compared with Rotation

Translation describes a linear motion in which all parts of a rigid body move parallel to and in the same direction as every other part of the body. Translation can occur in either a straight line (rectilinear) or a curved line (curvilinear). During walking, for example, a point on the head moves in a general curvilinear manner (Figure 1-2).

Rotation, in contrast to translation, describes a motion in which an assumed rigid body moves in a circular path around some pivot point. As a result, all points in the body simultaneously rotate in the same angular direction (e.g., clockwise and counterclockwise) across the same number of degrees.

Movement of the human body as a whole is often described as a translation of the body’s center of mass, located generally just anterior to the sacrum. Although a person’s center of mass translates through space, it is powered by muscles that rotate the limbs. The fact that limbs rotate can be appreciated by watching the path created by a fist while the elbow is flexing (Figure 1-3). (It is customary in kinesiology to use the phrases “rotation of a joint” and “rotation of a bone” interchangeably.)

The pivot point for angular motion of the body or body parts is called the axis of rotation. The axis is at the point where motion of the rotating body is zero. For most movements of the limbs or trunk, the axis of rotation is located within or very near the structure of the joint.

Movement of the body, regardless of translation or rotation, can be described as active or passive. Active movements are caused by stimulated muscle, such as when lifting a glass of water toward the mouth. Passive movements, in contrast, are caused by sources other than active muscle contraction, such as a push from another person, the pull of gravity, tension in stretched connective tissues, and so forth.

The primary variables related to kinematics are position, velocity, and acceleration. Specific units of measurement are needed to indicate the quantity of these variables. Units of meters or feet are used for translation, and degrees or radians are used for rotation. In most situations, Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System uses the International System of Units, adopted in 1960. This system is abbreviated SI, for Système International d’Unités, the French name. This system of units is widely accepted in many journals related to kinesiology and rehabilitation. The kinematic conversions between the more common SI units and other measurement units are listed in Table 1-1. Additional units of measurements are described in Chapter 4.

TABLE 1-1.

Common Conversions between Units of Kinematic Measurements

SI Units English Units
1 meter (m) = 3.28 feet (ft) 1 ft = 0.305 m
1 m = 39.37 inches (in) 1 in = 0.0254 m
1 centimeter (cm) = 0.39 in 1 in = 2.54 cm
1 m = 1.09 yards (yd) 1 yd = 0.91 m
1 kilometer (km) = 0.62 miles (mi) 1 mi = 1.61 km
1 degree = 0.0174 radians (rad) 1 rad = 57.3 degrees



Osteokinematics describes the motion of bones relative to the three cardinal (principal) planes of the body: sagittal, frontal, and horizontal. These planes of motion are depicted in the context of a person standing in the anatomic position as in Figure 1-4. The sagittal plane runs parallel to the sagittal suture of the skull, dividing the body into right and left sections; the frontal plane runs parallel to the coronal suture of the skull, dividing the body into front and back sections. The horizontal (or transverse) plane courses parallel to the horizon and divides the body into upper and lower sections. A sample of the terms used to describe the different osteokinematics is shown in Table 1-2. More specific terms are defined in the chapters that describe the various regions of the body.


Bones rotate around a joint in a plane that is perpendicular to an axis of rotation. The axis is typically located through the convex member of the joint. The shoulder, for example, allows movement in all three planes and therefore has three axes of rotation (Figure 1-5). Although the three orthogonal axes are depicted as stationary, in reality, as in all joints, each axis shifts slightly throughout the range of motion. The axis of rotation would remain stationary only if the convex member of a joint were a perfect sphere, articulating with a perfectly reciprocally shaped concave member. The convex members of most joints, like the humeral head at the shoulder, are imperfect spheres with changing surface curvatures. The issue of a migrating axis of rotation is discussed further in Chapter 2.


Degrees of freedom are the number of independent directions of movements allowed at a joint. A joint can have up to three degrees of angular freedom, corresponding to the three cardinal planes. As depicted in Figure 1-5, for example, the shoulder has three degrees of angular freedom, one for each plane. The wrist allows only two degrees of freedom (rotation within sagittal and frontal planes), and the elbow allows just one (within the sagittal plane).

Unless specified differently throughout this text, the term degrees of freedom indicates the number of permitted planes of angular motion at a joint. From a strict engineering perspective, however, degrees of freedom apply to translational (linear) as well as angular movements. All synovial joints in the body possess at least some translation, driven actively by muscle or passively because of the natural laxity within the structure of the joint. The slight passive translations that occur in most joints are referred to as accessory movements (or joint “play”) and are commonly defined in three linear directions. From the anatomic position, the spatial orientation and direction of accessory movements can be described relative to the three axes of rotation. In the relaxed glenohumeral joint, for example, the humerus can be passively translated slightly: anterior-posteriorly, medial-laterally, and superior-inferiorly (see short, straight arrows near proximal humerus in Figure 1-5). At many joints, the amount of translation is used clinically to test the health of the joint. Excessive translation of a bone relative to the joint may indicate ligamentous injury or abnormal laxity. In contrast, a significant reduction in translation (accessory movements) may indicate pathologic stiffness within the surrounding periarticular connective tissues. Abnormal translation within a joint typically affects the quality of the active movements, potentially causing increased intra-articular stress and microtrauma.


In general, the articulation of two or more bony or limb segments constitutes a joint. Movement at a joint can therefore be considered from two perspectives: (1) the proximal segment can rotate against the relatively fixed distal segment, and (2) the distal segment can rotate against the relatively fixed proximal segment. These two perspectives are shown for knee flexion in Figure 1-6. A term such as knee flexion, for example, describes only the relative motion between the thigh and leg. It does not describe which of the two segments is actually rotating. Often, to be clear, it is necessary to state the bone that is considered the primary rotating segment. As in Figure 1-6, for example, the terms tibial-on-femoral movement and femoral-on-tibial movement adequately describe the osteokinematics.

Most routine movements performed by the upper extremities involve distal-on-proximal segment kinematics. This reflects the need to bring objects held by the hand either toward or away from the body. The proximal segment of a joint in the upper extremity is usually stabilized by muscles, gravity, or its inertia, whereas the distal, relatively unconstrained, segment rotates.

Feeding oneself and throwing a ball are common examples of distal-on-proximal segment kinematics employed by the upper extremities. The upper extremities are certainly capable of performing proximal-on-distal segment kinematics, such as flexing and extending the elbows while one performs a pull-up.

The lower extremities routinely perform both proximal-on-distal and distal-on-proximal segment kinematics. These kinematics reflect, in part, the two primary phases of walking: the stance phase, when the limb is planted on the ground under the load of body weight, and the swing phase, when the limb is advancing forward. Many other activities, in addition to walking, use both kinematic strategies. Flexing the knee in preparation to kick a ball, for example, is a type of distal-on-proximal segment kinematics (see Figure 1-6, A). Descending into a squat position, in contrast, is an example of proximal-on-distal segment kinematics (see Figure 1-6, B). In the latter example, a relatively large demand is placed on the quadriceps muscle of the knee to control the gradual descent of the body.

The terms open and closed kinematic chains are frequently used in the physical rehabilitation literature and clinics to describe the concept of relative segment kinematics.9,20,25 A kinematic chain refers to a series of articulated segmented links, such as the connected pelvis, thigh, leg, and foot of the lower extremity. The terms “open” and “closed” are typically used to indicate whether the distal end of an extremity is fixed to the earth or some other immovable object. An open kinematic chain describes a situation in which the distal segment of a kinematic chain, such as the foot in the lower limb, is not fixed to the earth or other immovable object. The distal segment therefore is free to move (see Figure 1-6, A). A closed kinematic chain describes a situation in which the distal segment of the kinematic chain is fixed to the earth or another immovable object. In this case the proximal segment is free to move (see Figure 1-6, B). These terms are employed extensively to describe methods of applying resistive exercise to muscles, especially to the joints of the lower limb.

Although very convenient terminology, the terms open and closed kinematic chains are often ambiguous. From a strict engineering perspective, the terms apply more to the kinematic interdependence of a series of connected rigid links, which is not exactly the same as the previous definitions given here. From this engineering perspective, the chain is “closed” if both ends are fixed to a common object, much like a closed circuit. In this case, movement of any one link requires a kinematic adjustment of one or more of the other links within the chain. “Opening” the chain by disconnecting one end from its fixed attachment interrupts this kinematic interdependence. This more precise terminology does not apply universally across all health-related and engineering disciplines. Performing a one-legged partial squat, for example, is often referred to clinically as the movement of a closed kinematic chain. It could be argued, however, that this is a movement of an open kinematic chain because the contralateral leg is not fixed to ground (i.e., the circuit formed by the total body is open). To avoid confusion, this text uses the terms open and closed kinematic chains sparingly, and the preference is to explicitly state which segment (proximal or distal) is considered fixed and which is considered free.



Arthrokinematics describes the motion that occurs between the articular surfaces of joints. As described further in Chapter 2, the shapes of the articular surfaces of joints range from flat to curved. Most joint surfaces, however, are at least slightly curved, with one surface being relatively convex and one relatively concave (Figure 1-7). The convex-concave relationship of most articulations improves their congruency (fit), increases the surface area for dissipating contact forces, and helps guide the motion between the bones.


Three fundamental movements exist between curved joint surfaces: roll, slide, and, spin.27 These movements occur as a convex surface moves on a concave surface, and vice versa (Figure 1-8). Although other terms are used, these are useful for visualizing the relative movements that occur within a joint. The terms are formally defined in Table 1-3.

TABLE 1-3.

Three Fundamental Arthrokinematics: Roll, Slide, and Spin

Movement Definition Analogy
Roll* Multiple points along one rotating articular surface contact multiple points on another articular surface. A tire rotating across a stretch of pavement
Slide A single point on one articular surface contacts multiple points on another articular surface. A non-rotating tire skidding across a stretch of icy pavement
Spin A single point on one articular surface rotates on a single point on another articular surface. A toy top rotating on one spot on the floor

*Also termed rock.

Also termed glide.

Roll-and-Slide Movements: One primary way that a bone rotates through space is by a rolling of its articular surface against another bone’s articular surface. The motion is shown for a convex-on-concave surface movement at the glenohumeral joint in Figure 1-9, A. The contracting supraspinatus muscle rolls the convex humeral head against the slight concavity of the glenoid fossa. In essence, the roll directs the osteokinematic path of the abducting shaft of the humerus.22

A rolling convex surface typically involves a concurrent, oppositely directed slide. As shown in Figure 1-9, A, the inferior-directed slide of the humeral head offsets most of the potential superior migration of the rolling humeral head. The offsetting roll-and-slide kinematics are analogous to a tire on a car that is spinning on a sheet of ice. The potential for the tire to rotate forward on the icy pavement is offset by a continuous sliding of the tire in the opposite direction to the intended rotation. A classic pathologic example of a convex surface rolling without an offsetting slide is shown in Figure 1-9, B. The humeral head translates upward and impinges on the delicate tissues in the subacromial space. The migration alters the relative location of the axis of rotation, which may alter the effectiveness of the muscles that cross the glenohumeral joint. As shown in Figure 1-9, A, the concurrent roll-and-slide motion maximizes the angular displacement of the abducting humerus and minimizes the net translation between joint surfaces. This mechanism is particularly important in joints in which the articular surface area of the convex member exceeds that of the concave member.

Spin: Another primary way that a bone rotates is by a spinning of its articular surface against the articular surface of another bone. This occurs as the radius of the forearm spins against the capitulum of the humerus during pronation of the forearm (Figure 1-10). Other examples include internal and external rotation of the 90-degree abducted glenohumeral joint, and flexion and extension of the hip. Spinning is the primary mechanism for joint rotation when the longitudinal axis of the long bone intersects the surface of its articular mate at right angles.

Motions That Combine Roll-and-Slide and Spin Arthrokinematics: Several joints throughout the body combine roll-and-slide with spin arthrokinematics. A classic example of this combination occurs during flexion and extension of the knee. As shown during femoral-on-tibial knee extension (Figure 1-11, A), the femur spins internally slightly as the femoral condyle rolls and slides relative to the fixed (stationary) tibia. These arthrokinematics are also shown as the tibia extends relative to the fixed femur in Figure 1-11, B. In the knee the spinning motion that occurs with flexion and extension occurs automatically and is mechanically linked to the primary motion of extension. As described in Chapter 13, the obligatory spinning rotation is based on the shape of the articular surfaces at the knee. The conjunct rotation helps to securely lock the knee joint when fully extended.


As previously stated, most articular surfaces of bones are either convex or concave. Depending on which bone is moving, a convex surface may rotate on a concave surface or vice versa (compare Figure 1-11, A with Figure 1-11, B). Each scenario presents a different roll-and-slide arthrokinematic pattern. As depicted in Figures 1-11, A and 1-9, A for the shoulder, during a convex-on-concave movement, the convex surface rolls and slides in opposite directions. As previously described, the contradirectional slide offsets much of the translation tendency inherent to the rolling convex surface. During a concave-on-convex movement, as depicted in Figure 1-11, B, the concave surface rolls and slides in similar directions. These two principles are very useful for visualizing the arthrokinematics during a movement. In addition, the principles serve as a basis for some manual therapy techniques. External forces may be applied by the clinician that assist or guide the natural arthrokinematics at the joint. For example, in certain circumstances, glenohumeral abduction can be facilitated by applying an inferior-directed force at the proximal humerus, simultaneously with an active-abduction effort. The arthrokinematic principles are based on the knowledge of the joint surface morphology.


The pair of articular surfaces within most joints “fits” best in only one position, usually in or near the very end range of a motion. This position of maximal congruency is referred to as the joint’s close-packed position.27 In this position, most ligaments and parts of the capsule are pulled taut, providing an element of natural stability to the joint. Accessory movements are typically minimal in a joint’s close-packed position.

For many joints in the lower extremity, the close-packed position is associated with a habitual function. At the knee, for example, the close-packed position is full extension—a position that is typically approached while standing. The combined effect of the maximum joint congruity and stretched ligaments helps to provide transarticular stability to the knee.

All positions other than a joint’s close-packed position are referred to as the joint’s loose-packed positions. In these positions, the ligaments and capsule are relatively slackened, allowing an increase in accessory movements. The joint is generally least congruent near its midrange. In the lower extremity, the loose-packed positions of the major joints are biased toward flexion. These positions are generally not used during standing, but frequently are preferred by the patient during long periods of immobilization, such as extended bed rest.


Kinetics is a branch of the study of mechanics that describes the effect of forces on the body. The topic of kinetics is introduced here as it applies to the musculoskeletal system. A more detailed and mathematic approach to this subject matter is provided in Chapter 4.

From a kinesiologic perspective, a force can be considered as a push or pull that can produce, arrest, or modify movement. Forces therefore provide the ultimate impetus for movement and stabilization of the body. As described by Newton’s second law, the quantity of a force (F) can be measured by the product of the mass (m) that receives the push or pull, multiplied by the acceleration (a) of the mass. The formula F = ma shows that, given a constant mass, a force is directly proportional to the acceleration of the mass: measuring the force yields the acceleration of the body, and vice versa. A net force is zero when the acceleration of the mass is zero.

The standard international unit of force is the newton (N): 1 N = 1 kg × 1 m/sec2. The English equivalent of the newton is the pound (lb): 1 lb = 1 slug × 1 ft/sec2 (4.448 N = 1 lb).

Musculoskeletal Forces


A force that acts on the body is often referred to generically as a load.23 Forces or loads that move, fixate, or otherwise stabilize the body also have the potential to deform and injure the body.23,24 The loads most frequently applied to the musculoskeletal system are illustrated in Figure 1-12. (See the glossary at the end of this chapter for formal definitions.) Healthy tissues are typically able to partially resist changes in their structure and shape. The force that stretches a healthy ligament, for example, is met by an intrinsic tension generated within the elongated (stretched) tissue. Any tissue weakened by disease, trauma, or prolonged disuse may not be able to adequately resist the application of the loads depicted in Figure 1-12. The proximal femur weakened by osteoporosis, for example, may fracture from the impact of a fall secondary to compression or torsion (twisting), shearing, or bending of the neck of the femur. Fracture may also occur in a severely osteoporotic hip after a very strong muscle contraction.

The ability of periarticular connective tissues to accept and disperse loads is an important topic of research within physical rehabilitation, manual therapy, and orthopedic medicine.14,18 Clinicians are very interested in how variables such as aging, trauma, altered activity or weight-bearing levels, or prolonged immobilization affect the load-accepting functions of periarticular connective tissues. One method of measuring the ability of a connective tissue to tolerate a load is to plot the force required to deform an excised tissue.8,22 This type of experiment is typically performed using animal or human cadaver specimens. Figure 1-13 shows a hypothetic graph of the tension generated by a generic ligament (or tendon) that has been stretched to a point of mechanical failure. The vertical (Y) axis of the graph is labeled stress, a term that denotes the internal resistance generated as the ligament resists deformation, divided by its cross-sectional area. (The units of stress are similar to pressure: N/mm2). The horizontal (X) axis is labeled strain, which in this case is the percent increase in a tissue’s stretched length relative to its original, preexperimental length.24 (A similar procedure may be performed by compressing rather than stretching an excised slice of cartilage or bone, for example, and then plotting the amount of stress produced within the tissue.29) Note in Figure 1-13 that under a relatively slight strain (stretch), the ligament produces only a small amount of stress (tension). This nonlinear or “toe” region of the graph reflects the fact that the collagen fibers within the tissue are initially wavy or crimped and must be drawn taut before significant tension is measured.18 Further elongation, however, shows a linear relationship between stress and strain. The ratio of the stress (Y) caused by an applied strain (X) in the ligament is a measure of its stiffness

Buy Membership for Rheumatology Category to continue reading. Learn more here