We present four examples to illustrate the use of a type of numerical approximation as an intermediate step in analytical derivation of seemingly complicated biomechanical equations. The method involves examination of curve shapes to elucidate useful underlying trends, which may otherwise be overlooked through consideration of only the equations themselves. Two examples of the method's use are drawn from recently published results in the area of experimental methods in biomechanics of very soft tissues, and two others are taken from our current work on cartilage tissue mechanics. We think that such observations provide a useful means of circumventing complexity issues when deriving models for biomechanical analysis, and further that the method, while simple in concept, could be effective in a range of biomechanics applications. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.