The fitness lifestyle may not be led by everyone, but whether you are in a gym setting or not there is a certain concept to movement that is a part of everyone’s life and that is MOVEMENT! Every day you do activities that fall into the two types of exercises or movements known as open and closed chain. In this blog, we will go over two types of movement both associated with fitness and activities of daily living as well.

Open chain exercise: Open chain exercise is classified and best defined as a type of movement that allows the foot or hand to move about freely. These types of exercises typically involve a single muscle group or single joint. Examples of open chain exercises would be; bicep curls, Leg curls, Chest press and leg extension. Open chain exercise usually involves using weight that is distal – or away from the body. This can include daily tasks such as reaching for something, walking and even picking up a glass of water.

Benefits to Open chain exercise:

  • Allows isolation of one muscle – comes in handy when trying to build strength or during rehabilitation of a certain injury
  • Allows for improvement in range of motion in certain joints such as the shoulder
  • Challenges the body’s stability to help increase spacial awareness (Proprioception)- which can help improve balance in some individuals.

Conflicts to open chain exercise:

  • Does not allow multiple muscles groups and joints to work together
  • Produces a “shearing” like force on joints which can be hard on them
  • Increased risk of injury in individuals with compromised joint stability.

Closed Chain exercise: Closed chain exercise is classified and best defined as any type of movement that the foot and/or hand are in a constant or fixed position throughout the movement. These types of exercises involve multiple muscles and muscle groups to complete the movement also multiple joints. Examples of closed chain movements are; pushups, pull ups, squats, lunges and dead lifts. Daily activities can be related to closed chain are squatting down to pick up children, lunging down to tie a shoe, pulling yourself up off a ledge, and many others.

Benefits to Closed Chain exercise:

  • Work multiple muscles and joint groups at once- can save time in a workout this also helps muscle groups work together as a whole.
  • Helps improve functional fitness as closed chain movements often correlate to everyday movements.
  • Safer for joints

Conflicts to Closed Chain exercise:

  • Does not allow movements that work in all planes of motion.
  • Confined to one space for training- as the name “closed” sets in 
  • This type of training can limit athletes from potential stability and plyometric training.

Both styles of movements and training have their place in rehabilitation and fitness and are both beneficial in an effective training program in conclusion.