This is the question I get asked every time someone hears this word for the first time. Kinesiology, being the study of mechanics and body movements, is a specialty field where biomechanical, physiological, psychological and neurological factors are studied and how they affect movement. Each of these factors can be tested individually or together to identify what affects body movement the most. As a result, Kinesiologists can work in a wide range of environments but are mostly found in hospitals, private rehabilitation clinics and fitness centers.
A Kinesiologist’s approach to therapy, treatment and training is unique in that everything revolves around movement analysis. To begin, a Kinesiologist will receive a detailed history report of the patient that has been analyzed by a physician, chiropractor, physiotherapist or sport therapist to identify any limitations (such as a medical condition or previous injury) and how they could possibly affect movement when being tested. Thereafter, Kinesiologists usually use movement screens (Such as the Functional Movement Screen or Select Functional Movement Assessment), range of motion exams, specific manual muscle testing and neurological pattern testing to identify and confirm that these limitations are present and cause unwanted actions to the body when moving. On occasion, further testing may need to be performed to identify specific joint limitations that cause movement impairments. Take for example an overhead squat motion; ankle, knee, hip, spine and shoulder mobility could all be limiting factors in achieving perfect form. Nevertheless, if poor ankle mobility is present, this will affect the knees, hips, spine and shoulders all together. Therefore, a Kinesiologist must firstly analyze the problematic movement, secondly, find the biggest joint restriction when performing this movement and thirdly, use this information to structure movement programs taking into consideration these limitations to improve range of motion and stability enabling individuals to move pain free.
To minimize these joint restrictions, Kinesiologists utilize tools such as foam rollers and lacrosse balls to massage any unwanted muscle tightness that may hinder fluid motion. Once the massaging is complete, specific exercises are performed to restore muscular control in the newly acquired range. If a joint restriction is too severe, Kinesiologists usually refer the patient out to a chiropractor or physiotherapist to rectify this issue with manual therapy techniques. Once the full range of motion is regained, strength exercises and neurological based drills are performed to improve muscular strength, endurance and response to withstand greater tolerances.
When it comes to strength and conditioning, Kinesiologists provide periodized exercise programs allowing athletes or even weekend warriors to achieve their fitness goals once pain free. Depending on the individual’s goals, Kinesiologists provide specific exercise programs considering variables such as training volume (Amount of weight lifted), training stimulus, exercise selection and amount of rest to achieve the specific training goal.
In all, Kinesiologists are the perfect medium between therapy and training. They aid in providing a gradual and proper return to sport with proper rehabilitation and strength & conditioning to prevent individuals from getting re injured.