What is Biomechanics?
Biomechanics is the practice of human engineering. Much like a car is made up various different parts that work together in order to produce movement, the human skeletal structure must be balanced in order to achieve efficient and healthy dynamics.
Forces act upon us from the moment we are born, and continue to do so every second of our lives. This occurs regardless of whether we are sitting, standing, walking, running or jumping. For instance, Newton’s third law states that for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that as gravity pulls us into ground, there needs to be an identical force coming back up in order for us to maintain the same position on the earth. This is known as the Ground Reaction Force; the impact of which you can probably feel if you run along on while thudding down on hard road surfaces – a few past shin niggles may be attributable to this! This ‘ground-up’ philosophy was the basis of my work to design a running shoe for athletes with Cerebral Palsy – my major project for my masters degree in Bespoke Footwear Biomechanics at De Montfort University.
While these forces are necessary, if they are travelling through the body while the skeleton is misaligned due to compromised posture, then this causes excessive, premature wear and tear of the joints as we go about our daily lives. This is even more the case in athletic populations, as these forces are increased massively when running and jumping! This could then materialise in older age in the form of osteoarthritis.
So how is it treated, and how is it different to Sports Massage?
The vast majority of people go about their daily lives with poor posture, not knowing how to correct it. This leads to common aches and pains in areas of the body such as the back, shoulder, neck, knee and shins. However, most of the time this is a very easy fix, as often, the dysfunction can be traced back to a weakness and lack of stability around the trunk. For example, a lack of strength in this area results in an overworking of the leg muscles as the body desperately attempts to compensate for this weakness. Therefore by addressing this it allows people to sit, stand, and move taller, hence how human beings are naturally supposed to. It is this 'top-down' approach that creates a greater balance to the body, which also compliments the ground-up methodology and creates a double-ended system to creating better health.
Poor posture leads to muscle imbalances, particularly around the lower back and lower legs, due to the forces acting upon the skeleton that overwork various parts of the body. Sports massage has various benefits (more details of which can be found here), however if it is performed in the absence of good postural alignment, then the muscles that are released off during the massage will quickly tighten once again if the same movement habits are continued. Maybe in the past you have sustained an injury, for which you may have had treatment, it then died down, but the exact same pain returned further down the line? If so, the chances are that misaligned mechanics are causing your pain, which can be corrected through Biomechanical treatment, ensuring more longevity. A good analogy to explain this is taking painkillers for relief. This is of course a temporary measure to control the symptoms, but without solving the root cause, the pain will sooner or later return.