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In open-chain and closed-chain exercises, the chain referred to is a series of body parts, such as a hip, knee, ankle, and foot. In an open-chain exercise, the body is stationary while the limb moves. In closed-chain exercise, the limb is stationary while the body moves. For example, a squat is a closed-chain exercise because your feet stay stationary while your quadriceps do the work. In contrast, a seated leg extension is an open-chain maneuver.
Open-chain exercises may be more effective for particular therapeutic goals such as increasing quadriceps strength after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. But overall, physical therapists are incorporating more closed-chain exercises into rehabilitation programs and recommending them for people with painful joints because these exercises involve more muscles and joints and help to create stability around a joint. The wall-sit exercise is an example.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.