Constraints on the complete optimization of human motion

Sports Med. 2009;39(1):15-28. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200939010-00002.


In sport and exercise biomechanics, forward dynamics analyses or simulations have frequently been used in attempts to establish optimal techniques for performance of a wide range of motor activities. However, the accuracy and validity of these simulations is largely dependent on the complexity of the mathematical model used to represent the neuromusculoskeletal system. It could be argued that complex mathematical models are superior to simple mathematical models as they enable basic mechanical insights to be made and individual-specific optimal movement solutions to be identified. Contrary to some claims in the literature, however, we suggest that it is currently not possible to identify the complete optimal solution for a given motor activity. For a complete optimization of human motion, dynamical systems theory implies that mathematical models must incorporate a much wider range of organismic, environmental and task constraints. These ideas encapsulate why sports medicine specialists need to adopt more individualized clinical assessment procedures in interpreting why performers' movement patterns may differ.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Systems Theory