Your body is an interconnecting structure comprised of joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and many other elements. If you had a group of people holding hands, and one person pulls to the side, this has an effect on the other people in the chain. In regards to the human body, the hip, knee, ankle and foot form a chain. This is the basis for open and closed chain exercises, where each body part has an impact on the neighbouring segment. Continue reading to learn more about open vs closed chain exercises.
Open Chain Exercises
An open chain exercise is one that allows the furthest part of the chain to move freely. For example, picking up a glass of water is an open-chain exercise as the hand is not fixed in place, and it has an effect on the elbow and shoulder but not the rest of your body. To put it simply, the body is stationary whilst the limb moves.
Open chain exercises are commonly used for rehabilitation purposes or training that requires open chained movements, such as throwing a ball. Open chained exercises are often used to isolate muscles, such as a bicep curl. For rehabilitative purposes, open chain exercises are easier to implement if the focus is strengthening, improving range of motion or there is an acute injury.
If you hear of the gym term “Arm Day” meaning focusing on the muscles of the arms, open chained exercises are commonly used to enhance functionality and strength. The selective nature of this form of exercise is incredibly beneficial.
Closed Chain Exercises
Unlike open chained exercises, these closed-chain movements involve the body moving whilst the limbs are relatively stationary. Doing a squat is a closed chain exercise as your feet are fixed to the ground whilst your quadriceps do all the heavy lifting. These exercises are primarily weight-bearing exercises where you can use your body weight and/or external weight.
In closed chain exercises, multiple joints and muscles are targeted. It is all about taking advantage of the bodily ‘chains’ and using them efficiently and effectively.
Open and closed chain exercises both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is recommended to incorporate both into your physical activity regimen. Any exercise should be conducted with the appropriate technique, otherwise, you risk injuring or damaging joints, muscles and other physical components.
Contact us for more information
For more information about open vs closed chain exercises and to establish if these are appropriate for your physique and goals, whether fitness or rehabilitation, come into Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy today! Call us on (07) 3352 5116 or make an appointment online.