Ask the Expert: Dr. Hsiang-Ling Teng, PhD, PT

Biomechanics is the beautiful blend between physics and forces that occur on/ within living beings/ biologic tissues. It is a field studied primarily by engineers interested in ergonomics, and physical therapists who go on to get their PhDs. It is a nascent science, and as such, we have a long way to go to fully explore the field.

Biomechanics (along with exercise science- which is the physiologic study of exercise) is the backbone of information used to create movement plans. It is (hopefully) the science every physical therapist is following to help clients create safe exercise recommendations.

I have always been fascinated by the field, and as many of you know, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Biomedical Imaging Lab back in 2013-2014. During this time, I worked minimally (just one day per week), following a brilliant post doc around the office and lab, Dr. Hsiang-Ling Teng on her Mondays. Dr. Teng is a PT as well as PhD in biomechanics, and is a professor at CSULB in the Physical Therapy Department. She is interested in using biomechanical research to help people find simple solutions to improve their long term health. She is also helping PT students understand the complex and ever changing field of movement science.

During my time as a volunteer, I would help collecting patient data on strength, movement in the gait lab, and help Dr. Teng digitize movement data obtained in the gait lab. I also came to terms with the vast gulf dividing my very basic biomechanics understanding with the science used by the PhD and post docs in the lab- it was a very humbling experience.

For our first blog of October, Dr. Teng was generous enough to respond to some questions about biomechanics, and suggestions for how you can stand on years in the movement lab to build a better movement spectrum.


Biomechanics is such an important field in our understanding of physical human health. Do you have a pioneer in the field that you look up to or who inspires you in your work?

Dr. T: