Biomechanics
utilizes traditional engineering sciences to study the mechanics of the living
body, allowing scientists to use the principals of physics and dynamics to
understand the mechanics within the bodies of living creatures (source). The
goal of biomechanics is to comprehend how the shape and structure of the human
body is affected by the basic laws of physics, including the effects of forces
exerted by variables such as gravity and muscles on the skeleton (source). This
understanding can be applied to improve human movement and increase the safety
and health of living tissues. Though there has been a long history of human
inquiry concerning the mechanics of the human body, the first written analysis
of biomechanics was by Aristotle of ancient Greece, who wrote the book called De Motu Animalium, or On the Movement of Animals (source). In
this paper, Aristotle created the foundation for the future of biomechanics
through his inquiry concerning the difference between thinking of versus
actually performing an action, as well as his unique view of animal’s bodies as
mechanical systems (source). This was the first scientific analysis of the
movement of living creatures through the analysis of muscular action and movement.
Leonardo da Vinci was the next great contributor to the study of biomechanics,
as he was the first to study human anatomy through the dissection of more than
30 human bodies. With the information found in these dissections, he was able
to identify specific nerves and muscles, observing how they affected the
mechanics of the body during actions such as standing, walking, and jumping
(source). Furthermore, important connections were made between the structure of
the body and factors such as center of gravity, balance, center of resistance,
and performance. The first anatomy book, De
Humani Corporis Fabrica, was published in 1543 by Andreas Vesalius (source).
Another important figure of the Renaissance was Galileo Galilei, who made
discoveries of the mechanical aspects of bone structure as well as the basic
principles of biological scaling, or the relationship between body size and
shape (source). He was the one to start formulating physical laws
mathematically, creating a mathematical basis for biomechanics in which cause
and effect relationships could be explained with mathematical experimentation
(source). The next major biomechanic, who built on the work of Galileo, was
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli. He was the first to understand that muscles must
produce larger forces than previously expected, as the levels of the
musculoskeletal system magnify motion instead of force (source). This was
explained in his 1690 treatise entitled De
Motu Animalum (On the Motion of Animals), and due to his work, he is often
considered the “Father of Biomechanics” (source). Isaac Newton’s understanding
of the foundation of modern dynamics was also important to biomechanics,
especially the formulation of the three laws of rest and movement (source).
Though Isaac Newton did not focus explicitly on the study of biomechanics, his
research was still instrumental to the development of biomechanics, as the
three laws could be applied to muscular function. In the modern era,
biomechanics has developed rapidly with the contribution of many scientists and
engineers, especially following the First World War. Medicine needed to adapt
based on the destructive military technology that had injured thousands of
soldiers, and the study of biomechanics allowed for these advancements
(source).

            Today,
one of the many applications of biomechanics includes the analysis of
pressure-flow systems in the cardiovascular system. These pressure-flow systems
can be utilized to discover how subsystems should be linked within the
cardiovascular system (source). Another application is using biomechanics to
study joint proprioception, which is the body’s ability to sense movement and
resistance within joints. The effects of cryotherapy, aging, and
exercise-induced fatigue on joint proprioception can be analyzed using
biomechanics (source). Also, biomechanics is utilized to study the aerodynamics
of flying animals such as birds and insects, along with the application of this
knowledge towards the design on miniature drones and other flying machines
(source). Lastly, biomechanics is currently used to analyze the mechanical
loading of the eye and changes in structural properties of eye tissues in order
to prevent and treat eye diseases such as glaucoma and retinal detachment
(source). 

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