Master's degree in Preventive and Adapted Exercise Science

Biomechanics of human movement

Course code
Name of lecturer
Matteo Bertucco
Matteo Bertucco
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° semestre motorie dal Oct 1, 2020 al Jan 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Biomechanics is concerned with the mechanical / anatomical bases of human movement. An interdisciplinary approach is used in which materials from anatomy, physiology and physics (mechanics) are integrated. Quantitative and qualitative biomechanical analyses of human movement are studied from the perspective of kinematic and kinetic descriptions of multi-segment motion. These external phenomena are used to estimate internal muscle mechanics and joint loading. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to concepts of mechanics as they apply to human movement. The student should gain an understanding of the mechanical and anatomical principles that govern human motion and develop the ability to link the structure of the human body with its function from a mechanical perspective, with particular attention to pathological conditions and changes across one lifespan. At the completion of this course it is desired that each student be able to: 1) describe motion with precise, well-defined mechanical and bio-mechanical terminology; 2) understand and quantify linear and angular characteristics of motion; 3) understand and quantify the cause and effect of force, linear and angular kinetic of human movement; 4) comprehend the biomechanical principles of the musculoskeletal system in human movements with particular attention to elderly population and subjects with neuromuscular deficits; 5) interpret and analyze the kinematic, kinetic parameters and muscle activation of normal and pathological gait; 6) evaluate the biomechanical properties of common movement tasks either in healthy and pathological conditions.


Lectures: • Short review of math and physics: trigonometric functions, force, vector algebra, moment / torque. • Anthropometry: density, segment mass, center of mass, moment of inertia, radius of gyration, use of anthropometrics tables. • Linear and Angular Kinematics: linear velocity & acceleration, differentiation of kinematic data; joint angles, joint angular velocity, joint angular acceleration. • Linear and angular Kinetics: Newton’s Laws, Link segment model, type of forces, joint force, joint torque. • Statics/Equilibrium: conditions for equilibrium, levers and pulleys, applications of statics to biomechanics, joint and muscle forces in static condition. • Posture: biomechanics of standing, joint mechanics during standing, equilibrium conditions during standing; biomechanics of toppling; biomechanics of anticipatory and compensatory postural adjustments, abnormal posture: pathologies and postural deficits. • Friction: physic of friction, biomechanics of friction in human movement, slipping. • Inverse Dynamics • Impulse and Momentum: linear and angular impulse, linear and angular momentum, applications to human movement. • Work - Energy - Power: definition of work, energy and power, work, energy and power in linear motion, work, energy and power in angular motion. • Muscle Mechanics: mechanical properties of the musculoskeletal system; neuromechanical adaptations of the system to pathological conditions; • Joint mechanics: biomechanical characteristic of the principal joint of human body during movements in pathological and no-pathological conditions. • Gait: spatial-temporal parameters of gait, kinematic of gait, kinetic of gait, muscles intervention during gait cycle, pathological gait. • Reaching/Pointing: Biomechanics of reaching and pointing movements, reaching and pointing in pathological conditions. • Common movement tasks in clinical assessment: gait initiation, stair ascending and descending, landing, seat & stand. Laboratory: • Trigonometry, vector algebra and torque: exercises. • Anthropometry. • Linear and angular kinematics. • Kinetics: exercises. • Posture and balance. • Anticipatory and compensatory postural adjustments. • Lifting, internal torques and EMG. • Normal and pathological gait. • Inverse Dynamic: exercises. • Stair negotiation, sitting and standing, reaching • Observation and qualitative analysis of representative pathological gaits.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Matteo Bertucco Articoli scientifici indicati dal docente / Suggested scientific articles  
David A. Winter Biomechanics and motor control of human movement Wiley  
Jim Richards Biomechanics in Clinic and Research Churchill Livingstone  
Perry et al Gait analysis: normal and pathological function Thorofare (New Jersey): Slack  
Legnani, Palmieri, Fassi Introduzione alla biomeccanica dello sport CittàStudi Edizioni 2018
Neumann Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system: foundations for rehabilitation 2016
Roger Enoka Neuromechanics of Human Movement Human Kinetics; 5 edizione 2015

Assessment methods and criteria

Final Exam (FE) 85%
Laboratory Project (LP) 10%
Gait Inverse Dynamic Project (GP) 5%
Total 100%

Final exam will consist on a Written Test and an Oral Exam.
Written test:
• The written test will evaluate the capability to apply the logical and mathematical principles of the topics covered at the lectures.
• The written test will contain 30 multiple-choice questions.
• Each question will have a score from 1 to 3 for a total of 45 points. Incorrect and missing answers will have a score of 0.
• The written test grade will be obtained by dividing the test score by 1.5 (45/30)

Oral Exam:
• The admission to the Oral Exam requires ≥18/30 at the Written Test.
• The only admission to the Oral Exam does not guarantee to pass the Final Exam.
• It will consist in an oral discussion aimed to evaluate:
- Insightful understanding of course theoretical concepts;
- Use of proper terminology
- Competency to translate the theoretical concepts to practical settings.
• The student is free to taking the Oral Exam either in Italian or English.
• Taking the Oral Exam in English will assign a Bonus of 2 points.

Students will work on the project as a group of 5-6 people based on the data collected during the laboratory classes. The details of the project will be given during the first laboratory class. The laboratory project will receive a score based on the 30-point scale.

Gait Inverse dynamic Project will be explained and assigned to the students after the lecture about the inverse dynamic. The project will be evaluated during the oral exam and it will be scored with a scale from 0 to 5 points and eventually converted in the 30-point scale; 0=fail, 1=18/30, 2=21/30, 3=24/30, 4=27/30, 5=30/30.

Final grade will be assigned as follows:
(FEx85 +LPx10+GPx5)/(85+10+5)+English Bonus

N.B. Minimal requirement to pass the entire course: 18/30 in each part (i.e. FE, LP, GP)

Academic Honesty Policy:
Given the professional nature of our program academic dishonesty is not tolerated in this course. Any substantiated instances of academic dishonest will result in a zero for the assignments (projects and/or final exam) and consequently a final course grade of 0/30.

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