Coloradoan: Disturbances in Kinetic Chain Will Affect One's Energy Transfer

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dr. Brent G. Hextell is a Sports Biomechanist with a degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa where he concentrated on Musculoskeletal Biomechanics. He also earned a DC from Palmer College where he concentrated on the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries and repetitive trauma disorders. Dr. Hextell is Director of Rocky Mountain Chiropractic and Sports Injury Centers in Windsor.

An athlete's ability to outperform another player commonly boils down to efficient transfer of power and energy.

Power production and energy translation are critical in all sports. Consider the gymnast leaping and landing on the floor routine or her ability to strike a certain pose through controlled movement. Each of these activities requires a considerable degree of power production and an efficient transfer of energy in order for the movement to be accomplished appropriately.

This principle applies to all sports.

Consider the importance of maximum power production in the golf swing, volleyball spike, while pitching a baseball, making a tackle or while performing any other athletic movement. Athletic movements require efficient energy transfer in order to maximize performance. If there is a problem along the kinetic chain (an imbalance in the system) energy will not transfer efficiently. This explains why even old injuries can lead to a decrease in sports performance.

Biomechanical imbalances due to an old injury can also lead to a future injury. This is why proper biomechanics of each joint is critically important and must be considered, even in the absence of pain.

In my practice, when I meet an athlete, I take them through a series of functional movements and other biomechanical tests to determine the cause of their problem. Pain is rarely much help in determining how to fix the problem. Yes, pain points to a problem, but it is important to find the cause which is often a completely different problem altogether.

In the absence of pain, I use the same functional examination strategy to locate the areas of weakness so that I can help the athlete function better, putting less stress on the body and allowing that individual to reach his or her peak potential.

Functional movement testing tells me a lot about how the athlete performs his or her athletic movements. I will often find that someone with knee pain will have motion dysfunction at their ankle due to an old sprain that they thought had "healed."

Typically old ankle sprains wreak havoc on the kinetic chain.

Functional testing commonly shows me how a shoulder injury may be directly related to thoracic spine (middle back) dysfunction, including a combination of thoracic subluxation (motion restriction) as well as muscle imbalances originally described by Dr. Vladamir Janda as "Upper Cross Syndrome."

I will discuss how the ankle "heals" improperly after an inversion sprain and Janda's findings in more detail at a later time.

To summarize, in order to effectively accomplish an athletic movement, an athlete must make use of the power produced by efficiently completing the energy transfer from potential energy to kinetic movement.

Any disturbance in the kinetic chain due to an old injury or improperly learned motor pattern will affect the ability to make an efficient energy transfer. This is often the difference between a good player and a great athlete.