Bio mechanics is a scientific discipline that deals with the application of mechanical principles in biological systems, including humans, plants, animals, organs and cells. This field of study is closely related to engineering, and it uses engineering sciences, such as material sciences, Newtonian mechanics, dynamics, kinematics, structural analysis, mechanism analysis, and continuum mechanics, to analyze biological systems. Other engineering techniques that play a prominent role in biomechanics include experimental measurements, computer simulation, numerical methods and modeling.
Biomechanics emerged as a field of study in its own right during the early 1970s. It is considered to be a sub-discipline of kinesiology, a field of science that is concerned with the application of mechanics in animate motion. Its main branches include:
1. Sports biomechanics
Sports biomechanics examines how principles of mechanics can be applied to boost athletic performance and minimize sport injuries. Researchers use elements of mechanical engineering such as force platforms, numerical methods, digital filtering, strain gauges and surface electromyography (EMG) to gain greater insights into joint, skeletal and muscular actions of the body in the execution of different tasks techniques and/or skills. This knowledge is utilized in enhancing sport’s performance, injury prevention, rehabilitation, and sports mastery.
2. Continuum biomechanics
Continuum biomechanics involves the mechanical analysis of biofluids and biomaterials. The mechanical characteristics of these materials depend on physical phenomena that occur in a hierarchical structure, from the microscopic molecules to the large tissues and organs. This field of study is spurred by the need to understand how the entire structure works.
3. Bio-fluid mechanics
This branch of biomechanics examines the flow of biofluids, especially blood. Researchers use mathematical models to understand how the blood flows through the vessels.
Biotribology is the study of contact mechanics and tribology in biological systems, including the analysis of the effects of wear, lubrication as well as friction. The main aspects of study include joints, hips and knees. The knowledge can be used to determine the lubrication effects of the synovial fluid or the wear performance of an implant.
5. Comparative biomechanics
Researchers apply the principles of biomechanics to nonhuman biological systems to gain a better understanding of human movements, or the ecology, adaptations and the functions of those systems.
6. Plant biomechanics
Plant biomechanics is a sub-field of biomechanics that deals with the study of structure and functions of plants as well as plant organs.
Careers in Biomechanics
Biomechanics work in many different disciplines and fields of application. Being both basic and applied science, biomechanics has many sub-fields that you can pursue. They include:
- Sports biomechanics
- Implant medicine, prosthesis and orthotics
- Occupational biomechanics
- Human factors engineering
- Cardiovascular biomechanics
- Musculoskeletal and orthopedic biomechanics
- Soft body dynamics
As a biomechanics specialist, you can easily find work in research labs, rehabilitation clinics, fitness industry and industries. Biomechanics who work in research environments are mostly involved in gait analysis, research and testing of athletes, as well as research and development of man-machine interfaces. In sports companies, biomechanics undertake research and design of different types of sports accessories. Like other reaserch positions, biomechanics is highly lucrative and you can realise a well-paying and fulfilling career in this field.