Where Can I Find Out About Biomechanics

This text provides a general introduction to the biomechanics of human movement in kinesiology. Many students take advanced courses in biomechanics and do library research for term projects. This text will provide quite a few references on many topics that will help students find original sources of biomechanical data. The relative youth of the science of biomechanics and the many different academic areas interested in bio-mechanics (among others, biology, engineering, medicine, kinesiology, physics) makes the search for biomechanical knowledge challenging for many students. This section will give you a brief tour of some of the major fields where biomechanics research is of interest.

Where you find biomechanics research depends on the kind of data you are interested in. Many people are curious about human movement, but there are also many scholars who are interested in the biome-chanics of a wide variety of animals. An excellent way to study the theoretical aspects of biomechanics is to study animals that have made adaptations to be good at certain kinds of movements: like fish, kangaroos, or frogs. Much of this biomechanical research on animals is relevant to the study of human movement.

Professionals from many fields are interested in human movement, so there is considerable interest and research in human biomechanics. As a science biome-chanics is quite young (infant), but biome-chanics is more like the middle child within the subdisciplines of kinesiology. Biomechanics is not as mature as Exercise Physiology or Motor Learning but is a bit older than Sport Psychology and other subdisciplines. Basic biomechanics research on many popular sport techniques will have been conducted in the early to mid-20th century. Biomechanics research in kinesiol-ogy since the 1970s has tended to become more narrowly focused and specialized, and has branched into areas far beyond sport and education. As a result, students with basic sport technique interests now have to integrate biomechanics research over a 50-year period.

Depending on the depth of analysis and the human movement of interest, a stu dent of biomechanics may find himself reading literature in biomechanical, medical, physiological, engineering, or other specialized journals. The smaller and more narrow the area of biomechanical interest (for example, specific fibers, myofibrils, ligaments, tendons), the more likely there will be very recent research on the topic. Research on the effect of computerized retail check-out scanners would likely be found in recent journals related to engineering, human factors, and ergonomics. A student interested in a strength and conditioning career might find biomechanical studies on exercises in medical, physical education, physiology, and specialized strength and conditioning journals. Students with clinical career interests who want to know exactly what muscles do during movement may put together data from studies dealing with a variety of animals. Clues can come from classic research on the muscles of the frog (Hill, 1970), the cat (Gregor & Abelew, 1994) and turkeys (Roberts, Marsh, Weyand, & Taylor, 1997), as well as human muscle (Ito, Kawakami, Ichinose, Fuka-shiro, & Fukunaga, 1998). While muscle force-measuring devices have been im planted in humans, the majority of the invasive research to determine the actions of muscles in movement is done on animals (Figure 1.8).

Scholarly Societies

There are scholarly organizations exclusively dedicated to biomechanics. Scholarly societies typically sponsor meetings and publications to promote the development of their fields. Students of sport biomechanics should know that the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports (ISBS) is devoted to promotion of sport biomechan-ics research and to helping coaches apply biomechanical knowledge in instruction, training, and conditioning for sports. The ISBS publishes scholarly papers on sports biomechanics that are accepted from papers presented at their annual meetings and the journal Sports Biomechanics. Their website (http://isbs.org/) provides links to a variety of information on sport biomechanics. The websites for the societies discussed in this section are listed at the end of this chapter and in a file on the CD.

Figure 1.8. Schematic of a buckle transducer for in vivo measurement of muscle forces in animal locomotion. Adapted with permission from Biewener and Blickhan (1988).

The International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) is the international society of scholars interested in biomechanics from all kinds of academic fields. The ISB hosts international meetings and sponsors journals. Some examples of regional biomechanics societies include the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB), the Canadian Society of Biomechanics, and the European Society of Biomechanics. The ASB website has several links, including a list of graduate programs and papers accepted for presentation at ABS annual meetings. Another related scholarly society is the International Society for Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK), which promotes the electromyographic (EMG) study of human movement. Engineers interested in equipment design, sport, and human movement have founded the ISEA mentioned earlier. There are other scholarly organizations that have biomechanics interest groups related to the parent disciplines of medicine, biology, or physics.

Aside from the many specialized bio-mechanics societies, there are biomechanics interest groups in various scholarly/professional organizations that have an interest in human movement. Two examples are the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAH-PERD) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). AAHPERD is the original physical education scholarly/professional organization, founded in 1885. Bio-mechanists in HPERD can be active in the Biomechanics Academy of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE is one of the HPERD associations within the alliance). The American College of Sports Medicine was founded in 1954 by physicians and exercise scientists to be a scholarly society interested in promotion of the study and application of exercise, sports medicine, and sports science. The ACSM substructure interested in biomechanics is the biomechanics interest group (BIG). Other professional organizations in medicine, physical therapy, athletic training, and/or strength and conditioning sponsor biomechanics programs related to their unique interests. Whatever career path you select, it is important that you join and participate in the related scholarly and professional organizations.

Computer Searches

One of the best ways to find information on human biomechanics is to use computerized bibliographies or databases of books, chapters, and articles. Some of the best electronic sources for kinesiology students are SportDiscus, MEDLINE, and EMBASE. SportDiscus is the CD-ROM version of the database compiled by the Sport Information Resource Center (SIRC) in Ontario, Canada (http://www.sirc.ca/). SIRC has been compiling scholarly sources on sport and exercise science since 1973. Many universities buy access to SportDiscus and Med-line for faculty and student research. Sport-Discus is quite helpful in locating research papers in the ISBS edited proceedings.

Medical literature has been well cataloged by Index Medicus and the searchable databases MEDLINE and EMBASE. These databases are quite extensive but do not list all published articles so a search of both is advisable (Minozzi, Pistotti, & Forni, 2000) for literature searches related to sports medicine. Besides access from your university library, the national library of medicine provides free searching of Medline at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/ query.fcgi. Very large databases like SportDiscus, Medline, and EMBASE are great research tools if searched intelligently. These databases and others (e.g., Biological Abstracts, Science Citation Index) should be searched by the careful linking of keywords and Boolean (logic: and, or) operators. Remember that much of the power of indexing is the cross-referencing as well as the direct listings for your search items.

Many journals now publish keywords with articles to facilitate the searching for the articles with similar terms. The search request for "biomechanics" in some databases will return all items (probably too many) beginning with these letters in the title, abstract, or keywords including biome-chanics or biomechanical. Searching for "kinematic and ankle" will find sources documenting the motion at the ankle joint. Even better would be "kinematic or ankle or subtalar," because any one of the three search terms matching would select a resource. You miss very little with this search, but it is necessary to go through quite a few sources to find the most relevant ones. Be persistent in your search and let your readings refine your search strategy. A student interested in occupational overuse injuries (sports medicine term) will find that the human factors field may refer to this topic as "cumulative trauma disorder," "work-related musculoskeletal disorders," or "occupational overuse syndrome" just to name a few (Grieco, Molteni, DeVito, & Sias, 1998).

There are bibliographies of literature that are in print that list sources relevant to biomechanics. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports publishes Physical Fitness/Sports Medicine. The Physical Education Index is a bibliographic service for English language publications that is published quarterly by BenOak Publishing. The PE Index reviews more than 170 magazines and journals, provides some citations from popular press magazines, and this index can be used to gather "common knowledge." Early sport and exercise biomechan-ics research has been compiled in several bibliographies published by the University of Iowa (Hay, 1987).

Biomechanics Textbooks

Good sources for knowledge and links (not hyperlinks) to sources commonly missed by students are biomechanics textbooks. Biomechanics students should look up several biomechanics textbooks and review their coverage of a research topic. Scholars often write textbooks with research interests that are blended into their texts, and many authors make an effort to provide extensive reference lists for students. Remember that writing books takes considerable time, so references in a particular text may not be totally up-to-date, but they do give students leads and clues on many good

Interdisciplinary Issue: Collaborative Biomechanics

Finding biomechanics information is like a scavenger hunt that will lead students all over a li-brary.We have seen that biomechanics research can be found in biology, engineering, medical, and other specialized journals. "Interdisciplinary" means using several different disciplines simultaneously to solve a problem. Do some preliminary research for sources (journals and edited proceedings/books) on a human movement of interest to you. Do the titles and abstracts of the sources you found suggest scholars from different disciplines are working together to solve problems, or are scholars working on a problem primarily from their own area or discipline? What have other students found in their research?

sources. The quality of a biomechanical source will be difficult for many students to judge, so the next section will coach you in evaluating biomechanical sources.

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