An 'open chain' exercise in one in which the end of the limb limb being exercised is not in contact with any surface.
In rehabilitation physiotherapists differentiate between what they called 'open' and 'closed chain' kinetic exercises. Think of the 'chain' being a linkage between the hip, leg, knee, shin, foot and a final resistance against which one is exercising. Riding a bike is considered 'closed chain' as the pedal closes the linkage. So are squats, leg presses and wall slides. Straight leg raises are in contrast 'open chain' as the final linkage is not there - the chain is left open.
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