Biomechanical Physical Therapy Assessment

Biomechanics: contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about sports or exercise performance. It’s about how each of us moves our body, whether sitting, standing, walking, running, dancing, or playing tag with the kids. In humans and animals alike, the laws of biomechanics apply to the structure and function of the entire body, including the cellular level.

If there’s dysfunction in the biomechanics of your movement, you run the risk of overuse injury, repetitive motion injury, and structural misalignments that can affect the muscles and skeleton, and even organ systems. Pain, tension, stiffness and swelling are usually signs that you’ve got faulty biomechanics.

Physical therapists (PT) use biomechanical analysis to make a specialized study of how you move and how your movement affects your physical health. It’s a critical analysis of all your moving parts, not just an injured area.

What to Expect

During a biomechanical analysis, your PT will

  • ask about aches or pains you may be having,
  • review your medical or injury history,
  • ask what goals you have for becoming pain free, stronger, more agile, etc.

During the assessment, the PT will take measurements of joints and will observe movement patterns as you sit, stand, reach, twist or do whatever your body requires to accomplish daily tasks important to your quality of living.

While observing you, the PT is gaining an understanding of

  • which body parts and tissues are moving too much or not enough.
  • where muscles are tense or tight.
  • which joints are “stuck” or hypermobile.
  • where you have imbalances in muscle strength and joint range of motion.

All of this information is used to develop a plan of care to get you moving in correct alignment with as little (or no) pain as possible and with less risk for injury.

You need not be injured (nor do you have to be an elite athlete) to benefit from a visit to a physical therapist. While you do not need a referral or prescription for therapy, if you use medical insurance, you will need a referral from your primary care doctor for part or all of it to be covered. Having a biomechanical analysis while you’re feeling good can identify muscle imbalances, poor posture, and faulty movement patterns that put you at risk for injury.

References

  • Hatze, Herbert (1974). “The meaning of the term biomechanics”. Journal of Biomechanics. 7 (12): 189–190. doi:10.1016/0021-9290(74)90060-8.
  • Bartlett, Roger (2007). Introduction to sports biomechanics (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. http://www.profedf.ufpr.br/rodackibiomecanica_arquivos/Books/Introduction%20to%20Sports%20Biomechanics.pdf
  • Holzapfel, Gerhard A.; Ogden, Ray W. (2009). Biomechanical Modelling at the Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Levels. Springer Science & Business Media. https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783211958735
  • “What is Biomechanical Assessment: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results” https://www.docdoc.com.sg/info/procedure/biomechanical-assessment/

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