The Body’s Kinetic Chain – Open and Closed KC Exercises


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Kinetic = Force
Chain = A system that is linked together

I used to run with a woman who complained of pain radiating down the back of her leg.  She laid out the symptoms for me and was interested in my opinion. Immediately my mind went to disc or muscle related issues.  However, I replied that what she could have been experiencing was “referred” pain meaning that her discomfort could be felt in one area of the body but the source of that pain could stem from a completely different area.  To give her an example, I explained that I had been experiencing pain in my elbow which stemmed from a wrist issue. I then suggested her distress could be one of a number of possibilities. Perhaps it was disc related, a degenerative spine condition, sacroiliac joint dysfunction or arthritis. Maybe her piriformis muscle, which sits in the glutes and crosses paths with the sciatic nerve, was the source of pain.

A different personal trainer concluded she had tight hips and prescribed hip flexor stretches.  I encouraged her to get a diagnosis from a doctor so that a proper treatment protocol could be implemented.  After several months of pain, she finally visited the doctor. Through an MRI, a herniated disc was diagnosed. Her situation was a good example that when one part of the body does not work properly it has the ability to throw off other parts of the body.


The human body is a complex and interconnected system. It is an amazing structure of moving parts that employs the muscular (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia), nervous (central and peripheral nerves) and articular (joints) systems.  The muscular, nervous and articular systems work together as a chain in order to create motion (force).  These three systems are referred to as the Kinetic chain.


Exercises are classified as either open or closed kinetic chain movements and performing one over the other may have advantages depending on the type of injury or your fitness goals.

An open kinetic chain (OKC) exercise or movement pattern is where the distal aspect (segment furthest away from the center of the body) of the extremity is not fixed to an object and terminates free in space.[1]  This is an exercise or movement pattern where your hands or feet are allowed to move freely. These exercises are typically isolated movements. Examples of these types of exercises are: bench press, lat pull down, bicep curl, seated leg extension, and seated hamstring curl.

A closed Kinetic chain (CKC) exercise or activity is where the distal aspect (segment furthest away from the center of the body) meets “considerable” external resistance and restrains free movement. [2]  This is an exercise where your hands or feet are fixed to a surface or resistance. These exercises are typically multiple joint movements.  Closed chain exercises are thought to be functional exercises that often resemble everyday activities.  Examples of these types of exercises are: squats, lunges, and push-ups.


Some of the benefits of OKC exercise include: they are advantageous for many sports that incorporate open chain upper body movements (ex: throwing a ball),  have the ability to improve strength deficits at isolated muscle or joints especially at the beginning of rehabilitation where CKC movements are not possible, and have a greater ability to improve range of motion (ROM) at a particular joint.

Some of the benefits of CKC exercise include: they mimic everyday activities making it easier to perform those activities, can reduce shear force due to the co-contraction of muscles, increases joint stability, and stimulates proprioceptors (sensory receptors in the muscles and tendons that send signals to the brain about changes in the muscle length and the speed at which changes are occurring).

I was taught that clients should move from open to closed kinetic exercises as fitness improves.  As time has passed, I have learned that, while closed chain exercises have shown to be slightly more beneficial for rehabilitation and fitness goals, integrating both types of exercises have benefits.

For more information and studies conducted on this subject, please read:

Kinetic Chain Rehabilitation: A Theoretical Framework

Open vs. Closed Chain Exercises

A Kinetic Chain Approach for Shoulder Rehabilitation

Evaluation of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises in Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

The impact of closed versus open kinetic chain exercises on osteoporotic femur neck and risk of fall in postmenopausal women

The Effect of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises on Dynamic Balance Ability of Normal Healthy Adults

The effects of open vs closed kinetic chain exercises among injured adolescent cricket players in KZN, South Africa

[1], [2]  Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercise: a comprehensive guide to multiple joint exercise. Human Kinetics; 2001. Available here

Would you like more information on OKC and CKC exercises?  Please leave a message….


Do You Know Your Stuff? Take This Exercise and Nutrition Quiz



Whether you are a novice or a seasoned health and wellness junkie, it’s always beneficial to brush up on your sport and nutrition knowledge. Test your IQ with this fun review of articles posted in this blog. Clicking on the correct answer leads to the related post. Other answers prompt you to try again!

Part I: Exercise

1) According to many fitness organizations, which exercise is considered a high-risk or controversial move?

A.  Squat
B.  Overhead press
C.  Upright row

2) The rotational chop exercise works the abdominal muscles with an emphasis on which ones in particular?

A.  Rectus abdominis
B.  Obliques
C.  Transverse abdominis

3) For acute and chronic injuries, the following is recommended

A.  Heat
B.  Stretching
C.  R.I.C.E.

4) Tendon injuries are often the result of

A.  Lifting heavy weights
B.  Overuse syndrome
C.  Previous injuries

5) Which one of these is a classic sign of overtraining:

A.  Increase in physical performance
B.  Loss of muscle strength and coordination
C.  Increase in appetite

6) Knowing the opposing muscles is important for proper training. The opposing bicep muscles are

A.  Forearm muscles
B.  Pectoralis muscles
C.  Triceps muscles

7) One exercise that can counteract the negative side effects of sitting for too long is

A.  Kettle bell swing
B.  Chest Press
C.  Hammer curl

8) Neglecting this muscle can result in its weakness and that puts you at high risk for serious injuries like shoulder impingement

A.  Biceps
B.  Rear deltoid
C.  Serratus anterior

9) This lower body exercise naturally and instantaneously puts your body into proper form, is almost error-proof and is easy to master

A.  Lunges
B.  Goblet Squat
C.  Bridge

10) Arms are comprised of about

A.  1/3 biceps and 2/3 triceps
B.  2/3 biceps and 1/3 triceps
C.  1/2 biceps and 1/2 triceps

Part II: Nutrition

11) For vegans and vegetarians this vitamin can only be obtained through the consumption of fortified foods and or dietary supplements

A.  Vitamin B12
B.  Vitamin A
C.  Vitamin E

12) A good source of Vitamin B12 is

A.  Nutritional Yeast
B.  Brewer’s yeast
C.  Baker’s yeast

13) Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and needed for the synthesis of bone protein.  A good source of this vitamin is

A.  Bananas
B.  Kale
C.  Asparagus

14) This mineral is needed for immune system health, helps make protein and DNA, heals wounds, helps with taste and smell and is essential for the proper growth of young children

A.  Potassium
B.  Zinc
C.  Iron

15) Pseudograins are seeds high in protein, fiber and trace minerals. An example of a pseudograin is

A.  Amaranth
B.  Wheat
C.  Farro

16) One of the most controversial posts in the blog was the Vegan Husband’s Got Controversy? In it, it states that a cow produces how any cups of milk a day?

A.  60
B.  90
C.  120

17) Hemp is

A.  Only legal in California
B.  A good source of vitamin C
C.  Rich in Omega -3 and -6 fatty acids

18) Miso is a good example of a

A.  Spice
B.  Fermented food
C.  An essential mineral

19) A good plant-based source of calcium is

A.  Milk
B.  Teff
C.  Spinach

20) We all eat differently in my household and strive to make healthy decisions. In my favorite article that he wrote, the vegan husband ate what off the deck floor on Memorial Day weekend?

A.  Hot dog
B.  Sausage
C.  Chicken wing

How did you do?  Please leave a comment…

A Plant-Based Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Guide


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Familiarizing yourself with the nutrients that fruit and vegetables deliver is imperative for optimal health if you follow a plant-based diet.  Please see the chart below which lists certain vitamins and minerals, how they work in the body, quantities recommended, and their plant-based resources.
Some of the vitamins and minerals, and therefore their resources, that I pay particular attention to (from an athletic and nutrition stand point) are:
Vitamin B12 (I take a supplement): for energy, cognitive abilities, nervous system health, smooth muscle movement
Vitamin D (I take a supplement): for calcium absorption, muscle contraction
Calcium: for bone strengthening and building, muscle contraction
Iodine: (I use iodized salt): for thyroid health
Iron: for red blood cell health and oxygen transportation, to prevent anemia
Magnesium: for regulation of biochemical reactions, muscle contraction
Potassium: for maintaining fluids in body, heart health, muscle contraction
Zinc: for immune system health, helps make protein and DNA, heals wounds, helps with taste and smell

* information based from the Institute of Medicine

Please leave a comment…

All Hail The Newbies


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January is a time of renewal.  It marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next.  And, at health clubs, gyms, and YMCA’s all over the world, it marks the return of The Newbies.

The Newbies, a nickname for those who make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, arrive in droves, hoping to make regular exercise a habit.  If you are a gym regular, you’ll notice a Newbie as a stranger in the locker room. They’re using the locker you have taken five days a week for ten years.  They are walking on your favorite treadmill, doing reps on your abduction machine.  Or is it the adduction machine?

Most of the regulars treat the Newbies with disdain.  A majority of Newbies will be just a memory in four to six weeks.  A snowy morning or a few days with temperatures in the teens will send them back to their warm beds.

But, hold up a second.  Weren’t we all Newbies once?  I know I was.

My introduction to my YMCA was a few days a week after work, running on a track. I can’t remember exactly why I started going, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with weight and high cholesterol. I actually went to a small facility across the street but also owned by the YMCA.  We had a few nautilus and cardio machines, a basketball court, and a running track.  And, though I only went a few days a week, I was elitist. I would not cross the street to go to the main building which was much more crowded.

After a few years of sporadic workouts, the YMCA decided to sell our building to a neighboring private school.  To accommodate the extra people, they renovated the main building.  They pulled the primary workout area out of the basement and put it into a splashy new building.  Reluctantly, I crossed the street.

The track in the new building was smaller than the old track, and more crowded with walkers.  I didn’t like running on a treadmill, so it wasn’t long before I became frustrated.  The sheer number of people working out made it difficult getting on other cardio machines.  When I had to skip workouts because I couldn’t find a parking spot, I was faced with a dilemma: exercise somewhere else or at a different time.

Enter the vegan spouse.  She had started working out in the morning at the same YMCA.  If I exercised before work, I could get on any machine at any time.  I wouldn’t have to worry about crowds.  I could not only find parking, but get a better spot than I had ever had.

Still, it would mean getting my work clothes prepared the night before to bring with me.  What if I forgot my belt or my tie or my towel (all things I’ve forgotten)?  I would have to get up a lot earlier. I was used to exercising after working a full day, not ten minutes after getting out of bed.  Exercising at 6 AM sounded like something prisoners might be made to do.

I wanted to exercise in peace, so I tried it.  The first day felt like I was getting up in the middle of the night.  Working out in the morning was an acquired taste, but I drank it up thirstily.  I started going my usual few days a week. After a few months, I couldn’t figure out why I was taking days off.

Flash forward ten years and I’ve become a five and often six days a week warrior. Well, maybe warrior is too strong a word.  But now I’m that guy who doesn’t want to miss a day of exercise. I go so early, I wait in my car for the doors to open.  It took me a while to get there, but I made it.

So, welcome Newbies!  Check out the great parking.  Let me move my stuff out of your way so you can get to a locker.  And I hope I see you back here tomorrow.

January 17th has been dubbed “Ditch New Years Resolutions Day”.  Stay strong, stay committed, and dictate your own path.  Please leave a message…