Closed Chain Exercise

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Closed Kinetic Chain (CKC) exercises or closed chain exercises are exercises or movements where the distal aspect of the extremity is fixed to an object that is stationary.

With the distal part fixed, movement at any one joint in the kinetic chain requires motion as well at the other joints in the kinetic chain, therefore, both proximal and distal parts receive resistance training at the same time.[1]

CKC exercises have gained popularity over Open Kinetic Chain (OKC) exercises because many therapists believe that CKC exercises are more reliable and functional.[2]  Uçar et al. affirmed that for rehabilitation post ACL reconstruction, CKC exercises were more effective than OKC exercises at regaining mobility and enabling a quicker return to daily and sporting activities.[3]

Superior eccentric contraction and co-contraction of muscles are produced by closed kinetic chain exercises. Along with that, the shear forces are reduced while adding comprehensive forces to the joints which enhances joint stability.[1]

Characteristics of CKC exercises and the difference between OKC exercises:[4]

Closed kinetic chain exercises
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 Neurophysiological Factors[edit | edit source]


  • CKC techniques emphasise the sequential movement and placement of functionally related joints and therefore require coordinated and sequential muscle activation patterns to control proper joint movement.[5]


  • Closed kinetic chain exercises stimulate the proprioceptive system by proprioceptive feedback to initiate and control muscle activation patterns.[5]

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Closed Chain Upper Body Kinetic Exercises[edit | edit source]

Examples include push-ups and derivatives, pull-ups or chin-ups, and dips. These concentrate on a co-contraction of the triceps brachii, biceps brachii, deltoids, pectoralis major and minor, and lower back for stabilization in various ratios depending upon the angle and leverage.



Closed Chain Lower Body Kinetic Exercises[edit | edit source]

Examples include 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.



Example of standing squat as a closed kinetic chain exercise. During this exercise, feet remain fixed to the ground, and resistance is manifested by the surface as a consequence of the individual's body weight or added weights in any form like dumbells.[7]

Multiple Joint Exercises[edit | edit source]

Closed kinetic chain exercise (CKCE) corresponds closely with the exercises classified as Multiple- joint exercises. During this exercise, movement occurs at multiple levels involving muscular co-contraction. The primary benefit of this exercise is the ability to exercise numerous segments and muscle groups simultaneously. [7]

Research Resources[edit | edit source]

CKCE on Dynamic Balance ability of Normal Healthy Adult[edit | edit source]

Several systems of the human body like the nervous, musculature, and skeletal interact with each other to maintain balance. Various exercises like open and closed kinetic chain(KC) exercises, aerobic exercises, Tai Chi exercises are used to improve balance.

Thirty-three healthy adults who have no exercise habit participated in the study to investigate whether open and closed kinetic chain exercises improve dynamic balance ability. Closed kinetic chain CKC exercises involved hip, knee, and ankle muscles, while open Kinetic chain (OKC ) exercises were isolated to the knee extensors.T he final result of the study shows that the KC group, on average, started off with poorer balance than the OKC group, but finished with better balance than the OKC group which shows CKC exercises are effective.[1]

CKC exercises and its effect in jumping performance[edit | edit source]

The research is done to find whether CKC exercise provides a superior means of optimum functional performance in healthy adults or injured individuals.

Twenty female physiotherapy students are the subject group in this study with no medical history. The result of the study showed a positive relation between closed kinetic chain exercises and jumping performance. The exercise improves vertical and long jumping performance.[8]

CKC exercises on the balance of ankle joint[edit | edit source]

The study was conducted in 20 women in their 20s to check the effect of OKC and CKC exercises on the static and dynamic balance of ankle joint in young and healthy women. Two groups of 10 women each were assigned in which one group performed closed kinetic chain exercises and another group performed open kinetic chain exercises for 4 weeks ( 5 sets of exercises three times per week).

Conclusion: Closed kinetic chain exercises improve the dynamic balance more than Open Kinetic chain exercises. In the case of static balance, both OKC and CKC exercises improved the balance in the same ratio.[9]

Stroke Survivors[edit | edit source]

It is found that activation of Rectus femoris and Biceps femoris was increased by CKC as well as OKC exercises but, the Gastrocnemius and Tibialis anterior activation was increased only by CKC exercises which conclude that CKC exercises play an important role in improving lower limb muscle strength, and balance in chronic stroke patients, which will improve the functional performance of patients.[10]

Clinical Bottom Line[edit | edit source]

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

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kwon YJ, Park SJ, Jefferson J, Kim K. The Effect of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises on Dynamic Balance Ability of Normal Healthy Adults. J Phys Ther Sci. 2013 Jun;25(6):671–4.
  2. Bynum EB, Barrack RL, Alexander AH. Open versus closed chain kinetic exercises after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. A prospective randomized study. Am J Sports Med. 1995 Aug;23(4):401–6.
  3. Uçar M, Koca I, Eroglu M, Eroglu S, Sarp U, Arik HO, et al. Evaluation of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises in Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Dec;26(12):1875–8.
  4. Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercises. A comprehensive guide to multiple-joint exercises. J Chiropr Med 2002;1(4):200.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Akuthota V, Herring SA. Nerve and vascular injuries in sports medicine. Springer, 2009.
  6. Bob&Brad.5 Closed Chain Exercises for Your Shoulder (Strengthen & Stabilize) Available from:
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercise: a comprehensive guide to multiple joint exercises. Human Kinetics; 2001. Available From:
  8. Blackburn JR, Morrissey MC. The relationship between open and closed kinetic chain strength of the lower limb and jumping performance. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 1998 Jun;27(6):430-5.
  9. Kim MK, Yoo KT. The effects of open and closed kinetic chain exercises on the static and dynamic balance of the ankle joints in young healthy women. Journal of physical therapy science. 2017;29(5):845-50.
  10. Lee NK, Kwon JW, Son SM, Kang KW, Kim K, Hyun-Nam S. The effects of closed and open kinetic chain exercises on lower limb muscle activity and balance in stroke survivors. NeuroRehabilitation. 2013 Jan 1;33(1):177-83.