The movements in which movement at one joint produces or affects the movement at another joint in the kinetic link is called as Kinetic chain exercises.
Dr Arthur Steindler considered human movements, activities and exercise patterns. According to him, the human extremities are overlapping segments that are rigid.
Kinetic chain exercises are movements produced by combinations of joints that are arranged successively, that constitutes a complex motor unit.(1)
These type of movements are classified into two, namely the open chain and the closed chain exercises.
Open kinetic chain
In this type of movement, the distal segment of the extremity is free to move in the space. eg Waving a hand .
It involves a rotary stress pattern at the joint. Eg the knee straightening - rotation of proximal Tibia over distal Femur
One segment of the joint remains stationary while the other remains mobile. Eg seated knee extension- Femur is stationary while Tibia is mobile.
Closed Kinetic chain
In this type, neither the proximal nor the distal segment is free to move in the space.
The distal segment receives considerable external resistance that takes it’s freedom away from moving.
Movement at one segment produces or affects the movement at another segment.
Resistance is placed through the distal aspect of the extremity and it remains fixed to the extremity. Eg Standing squat.
Advantages of Kinetic chain exercises
According to Hegedus, The biggest advantage of open chain exercises is that they are far better at isolating a muscle.
This can be useful when rehabilitating a specific muscle or when training for a sport that requires the use of open chain activities. An example is throwing a ball.(2)
But closed chain exercises are more functional, “or closely approximate to movements that you would use in daily life or sports.” This includes squatting to pick up furniture or bending to pick up a child. Because the load is shared with other nearby muscles, closed chain exercises may be preferred in some injury recovery.(2)
The utilization of OKC and CKC exercises often varies among practitioners.
Many factors should be considered when deciding whether to use open kinetic chain exercises versus closed kinetic chain exercises. The patient's condition and stage of rehabilitation will assist the clinician in determining the appropriate exercise prescription.
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(1) Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercise: a comprehensive guide to multiple joint exercises. Human Kinetics; 2001. Available From: http://bit.ly/1NunaL7