Muscle action is also known as 'Direction of Muscle Pull'. The direction of muscle pull is a critical part of kinesiology that is often overlooked. It has huge importance in rehab and performance as it helps us better understand the motor control aspects of movement.
Direction of muscle pull defines the kinetic chain.
Most people that learn muscle action in anatomy learn how our muscles work in an 'open chain' environment. But that's only 50% of the action our muscles perform because they also have to work in a 'closed chain' environment. The change in the environment will change the muscle action.
When properly caring for a rehab patient or training someone for higher levels of performance, it's important to understand how our muscle action changes depending upon the environment they need to function within. This often times will dictate exercise selection.
Failure to recognize how muscle action changes is often a reason why some people fail to progress in rehab or in the gym. And this is why it's important you find a professional who understands these concepts. These concepts serve as the foundation for true 'functional' training, 'functional' exercise, and 'functional' rehabilitation.
'Functional' has been a buzz word in fitness and rehabilitation for over a decade now, yet what most trainers or therapists are claiming to deliver as functional training, functional exercise, or functional rehabilitation is anything but that. An exercise should never be determined to be functional based on how it looks, but rather what it is addressing in regards an individuals specific needs/weaknesses. That requires we must first identify those specific needs and weaknesses, then determine how a specific muscles is 'acting' or 'pulling' during a given task, and finally determine how are we going to strength that specific muscle action through progressive exercises. This is the primary objective of functional training or functional rehabilitation.
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