What is biomechanics? How will it help improve your game and overall wellbeing? To answer our questions, we interviewed Will Goodbourn, a Sports Massage Therapist & Biomechanist operating within the East Midlands.
What is Biomechanics?
Will: ” Biomechanics is the practice of human engineering. It involves the study of human bodily alignment and motion, for example walking and standing posture.
A key component of the field is the analysis of sporting techniques to improve performance efficiency and reduce the incidence of injuries. For instance, each sport has an optimum way of how its key skills should performed (e.g. high jump technique), just like there is an optimum way of walking and running. Therefore, there is a wide range of different walks of life where the field is useful.
An analogy I often use to explain Biomechanics is comparing the human body to a car. A car is made up of lots of moving parts, such as the chassis, wheels, engine, and gearbox. The human body is the same – we have our own chassis (i.e. the skeleton), and all the things that come off this frame, e.g. muscles, tendons and ligaments, with the brain acting as the overseer. All these things work in tandem to bring about a coordinated movement.
However, if a car had a wonky wheel, it would not drive very well – excessive pressure would be put onto the wheel itself, as well as other areas of the car due to this misalignment. Unfortunately, due to modern-day lifestyle habits; such as prolonged sitting and excessive mobile phone use, the quality of human posture is in decline. This creates many muscle imbalances in the body, pulling the skeletal structure out of alignment and giving us this ‘wonky wheel’. Chronic skeletal misalignment puts the body under increased stress, creating many challenges for our long-term postural health which may see people developing conditions such as osteoarthritis in the joints. “
How is Biomechanics practiced?
Will: “Many different methods can be used in order to practice Biomechanics. Personally, I often use a combination of postural assessments, and gait analysis; which is the observation of an individual’s walking or running technique. These highlight any imbalances that might exist between one side of the body and the other, and areas where the individual may be lacking in terms of skill development (e.g. sporting techniques). Based on these observational findings, it is then possible to create an aftercare plan to rectify these problems. Effective aftercare plans can involve strength and conditioning, increasing flexibility, and improving specific areas of skill development.”
How does Biomechanics tie-in to Sports Massage?
Will: “Sports Massage is a very widely practiced discipline. It can be used to treat or prevent injuries, increase flexibility, and reduce stress, amongst other things. Biomechanics knowledge is not a pre-requisite in order to practice in this field.
However, I feel that only by combining the releases from the Sports Massage with Biomechanics, can a proper, thorough benefit to an individual’s long-term joint health be achieved. For example, let’s say you suffer with lower back pain; which is a very common ailment. You could always have a massage in order to release off the area, and it may be very effective in reducing the pain.
However, what if there isn’t anything wrong with the back itself, and the problem is coming from elsewhere? For instance, you may have weak abdominal muscles, which causes a misalignment around the pelvis, resulting in an overworking of, and increased pressure around, the lower back. Therefore, by only massaging the back, you are not addressing the underlying cause of your pain, as you are simply treating the symptoms.
In fact, I think this is a very unhealthy way to live, as the dysfunction is still there, and the longer your specific issue is present, the more chance it has of compromising your long-term joint health. After all, there wouldn’t be too much difference between this, and taking painkillers in order to mask the discomfort!”
How did you get into Biomechanics?
Will: “I have been involved in sport for most of my life. I started running when I was eight years old, and still do it today, along with multi-event athletics. When I became a bit older (into my teenage years), I started wanting to take the sport a lot more seriously and become more competitive. However, whenever I tried to increase my training load, I would always break down part-way through each season with injury and have to miss a lot of training and competitions as a result. This also became worse over time. This of course was very frustrating and upsetting for me, especially as I visited countless experts who couldn’t really offer a proper explanation of why it was happening, or a proper solution.
It did spark an interest though, as this inspired me to learn more about injuries, why they kept on happening to me, and to help others to avoid the torment of not being able to do the thing they love doing. Therefore, I studied a degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, and this was where I started to become interested in the Biomechanics, due to my fascination of how the body works, and the potential of the field to treat and prevent injuries.
Upon graduating, I then completed a Biomechanics-related masters degree, and at the same time, studied for my Sports Massage Diploma. While at the time of writing, I am not completely injury-free, I feel I have made significant improvements, and since starting my own business in 2017, I am happy that I am starting to make a positive change to other people’s lives.”
What sort of clients do you see?
Will: “Since starting my business, I have seen clients from many different backgrounds across a wide age range. As you can imagine, most of my clientele have a sporting background. So far, I have treated athletes from sports such as: running, cycling, triathlon, multi-event athletics, football, horse riding, martial arts and bodybuilding. While it is not possible to be an expert in every sport, I do feel that my background in running offers me a distinct advantage. After all, even if you are not a runner, then the chances are that if you are involved in a sport, then you participate in running in some capacity. For example, a footballer will spend a lot of time running around a pitch. Many athletes from other sports also likely run in order to work on general fitness also. Therefore, these athletes will need to run efficiently to reduce the likelihood of getting an injury. Hence, I always consider running to be the foundation of nearly any sport.
The standard of participation has also varied from absolute beginner, to international standard. However, this does not mean that you need to be an athlete in order to benefit from Biomechanics or Sports Massage, as I also see many people who do not do any sport at all. After all, you don’t need to be an athlete to suffer from aches and pains! This may include people who have a physically demanding job, or suffer pain when carrying out everyday tasks. Therefore, whatever goal you have, Biomechanics can help!”
To find out more about Will Goodbourn BSc MA Dip, Sports Massage Therapist & Biomechanist, visit his website or Facebook page or get in touch with Will via email at email@example.com or by phone at 07715 418013.