Send to

Choose Destination
J Biomech. 2019 Aug 27;93:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

Mechanical misconceptions: Have we lost the "mechanics" in "sports biomechanics"?

Author information

Kinesiology Program, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex, UK.
Kinesiology Program, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA.


Biomechanics principally stems from two disciplines, mechanics and biology. However, both the application and language of the mechanical constructs are not always adhered to when applied to biological systems, which can lead to errors and misunderstandings within the scientific literature. Here we address three topics that seem to be common points of confusion and misconception, with a specific focus on sports biomechanics applications: (1) joint reaction forces as they pertain to loads actually experienced by biological joints; (2) the partitioning of scalar quantities into directional components; and (3) weight and gravity alteration. For each topic, we discuss how mechanical concepts have been commonly misapplied in peer-reviewed publications, the consequences of those misapplications, and how biomechanics, exercise science, and other related disciplines can collectively benefit by more carefully adhering to and applying concepts of classical mechanics.


Communication; Joint reaction force; Misunderstandings; Myths

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center