Fixing Problems in Your Kinetic Chain

The term kinetic chain is basically the a concept that your body is interconnected.  We’re made up of fixed segments made mobile by joints and all these segments and joints have an effect on each other in the process of moving. 

When one part is in motion it creates a chain of events that impacts other segments of the body (frequently neighboring areas).  A weakness, inflammation, or injury can show up in other segments of the body in response to repetitive motion (like running). 

Fixing Problems in Your Kinetic Chain


Greetings Angie & Trevor.  My question revolves around the Kinetic Chain. One thing I usually do during and after a hard workout or race is to take note of where I feel the most discomfort. Then I focus on strengthening those problem areas. For me, it’s  most often the calves, sometimes it’s the upper hamstrings. So, taking the concept of the kinetic chain into consideration, I’m left to wonder: are the sore spots the problem or are they the symptom? Is there a way to determine if I should be focusing attention at additional, or other, muscle groups elsewhere on the chain? Thanks for everything,  -Randy


My Answer

Thanks for the question Randy!

Many physical therapists, chiropractors, sports medicine practicioners, and personal trainers will use kinetic chain exercises to help with injury prevention and correction as well as improved performance. 

As Randy stated, he frequently has issues with his calves and upper hamstrings and is wondering if he’s targeting the right areas with his exercises. 

It’s typically a good idea to look above the site of injury and make sure that those muscles are strong and that the joints have good range of motion.  For example, many runners have weak glute muscles and focusing on strengthening the glutes and hips would be appropriate. 

Doing single side exercises can be helpful so that the stronger side doesn’t compensate for the weaker side.  To strengthen the glutes two sample exercises would be to work your way up to single leg bridge and single leg squats.

If you’re not sure that you’re targeting the right areas with your injury prevention it may be helpful to get an evaluation done by a therapist trained to do kinetic chain assessments. 

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) this is designed to identify dysfunction within the human movement system.  Dysfunction would include: altered length-tensions relationships of soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons and fasica); altered force-couple relationships (compensatory movement); and altered joint function.

If you have dysfunction in your movement system this will result in the injury cycle which involves: problems with your sensorimotor integration, altered neuromuscular efficiency and tissue fatigue and breakdown. 

During a kinetic chain assessment they should do a posture assessment, dynamic movement screen, range of motion testing, and manual muscle testing. 

Another way to make sure that you’re including the appropriate injury prevention techniques is to purchase the Resilient Runner course.  It is full of information and exercises designed by physical therapy doctor Ben Shatto to help you come back stronger and be a healthy runner for life.

I hope this helps!

For those who want to dive deeper, the Resilient Runner program includes detailed videos and rehabilitation guides on how to effectively SELF-TREAT running injuries.

Become a Resilient Runner

Resilient Runner logoAre you struggling with a running injury? Overuse running injuries are typically due to controllable variables. A vast majority of these injuries could then be considered preventable. However, rarely do runners know that they are about to commit a training error that will place them on the path to injury and pain. This ultimately leads to lost training days, missed races, and unmet goals.

That is why we created the Resilient Runner program. It’s designed to help you prevent and avoid injury so that you can continue to train and compete in order to meet your goals. If you do sustain an injury, you’ll be able to refer to in-depth information on how to quickly recover from all of the most common running related injuries.

2 Responses to Fixing Problems in Your Kinetic Chain

  1. Jovanni November 25, 2021 at 3:14 am #

    Hey I was wondering I have a question. I have sprained my ankle in football and partially tore some ligaments when I was younger. Now my knees pop and my lower back feels really compressed and even crunching and grinding sometimes. Is this the kinetic chain and what type of therapy can I use to get proper blood flow and nutrients to these places to heal?

    • Angie Spencer November 27, 2021 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi Jovanni, Great question! Past injuries can definitely cause lingering issues in surrounding areas. Often when we’re injured the body seeks to “work around” the problem area to function normally as quickly as possible. Because of these adaptations there may be problems with posture, gait, muscle balance and much more. One good source of therapy may be finding a chiropractor who works with athletes. Getting your spine in alignment can often start the process of releasing tight muscles and pinched nerves. Other great therapies include Graston and ART (active release therapy) which can help release scar tissue and promote better collagen remodeling and blood flow. In addition to these there are ways to promote better nutrient absorption and reduced inflammation on a whole body basis. Things like getting good sleep, eating foods that decrease inflammation, reducing alcohol intake, and certain supplements can help. One of my favorite supplements that I’ve taken off and on for years is called Tissue Rejuvinator from Hammer. Nutrition. I hope these suggestions help!

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