Closed Chain Exercise

Original Editors - Vanderpooten Willem

Top Contributors -

Johnathan Fahrner, Garima Gedamkar and Vanderpooten Willem  



Closed kinetic chain exercise or closes chain exercise (CKC) is an exercise or movement where the distal aspect of the extremity is fixed to an object that is stationary.

Here are some characteristics of CKC and the differences with open kinetic chain exercises: [1]

Closed kinetic chain exercices
Open kinetic chain exercises
Stress pattern
Number of joint axes
One primary
Nature of joint segments
Both segments move simultaneously
One stationary, other mobile
Number of moving joints
Multiple joint movements
Isolated joint motion
Planes of movement
Multiple (triplanar)
One (single)
Muscular involvement
Significant co-contraction
Isolation of muscle group, minimal muscular co-contraction
Movement pattern
Significant functionally oriented
Often non-functional

Biomechanical and neurophysiologic factors


CKC techniques emphasize the sequential movement and placement of functionally related joints and therefore require coordinated and sequential muscle activation patterns to control proper joint movement. [2]


Closed kinetic chain exercises stimulate the proprioceptive system by proprioceptive feedback to initiate and control muscle activation patterns. [2]


1. Closed chain upperbody kinetic exercises

Push-ups and their derivatives, pull-ups or chin-ups, and dips. These concentrate on a co-contraction of the M. triceps, M. biceps, M. deltoids, M. pectoral may and min, and lower back for stabilization in various ratios depending upon angle and leverage.

E.g., CKC upperbody
2. Closed chain lowerbody kinetic exercises

Squats, deadlifts, lunges, power cleans, and leg presses. These concentrate on a co-contraction of the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, soleus, and gastrocnemius muscles. The joints of movement include the knee, hip, and ankle

E.g., CKC lowerbody

Clinical Bottom Line

Many factors should be considered when deciding to use open kinetic chain exercises versus closed kinetic chain exercises. The patient's condition and stage of rehabilitation will aid in the clinician's judgement of exercise prescription.

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  1. Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercises. A comprehensive guide to multiple-joint exercises. J Chiropr Med 2002;1(4):200.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Akuthota V, Herring SA. Nerve and vascular injuries in sports medicine. Springer, 2009.