What is Kinesiology?
Kinesiology is the study of human movement and its components such as anatomy, physiology, neurology, biomechanics, psychology, and biochemistry. The term kinesiology comes from the Greek word ‘kinesis’ which means ‘to move’ (CKA, 2019).
Kinesiology encompasses many different fields of study that all focus on human locomotion and its impact on health, performance, society, and quality of life. Healthcare professionals that study and apply movement science to improve health and wellbeing are called kinesiologists.
The main distinguishing feature of kinesiology that makes it different from physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage and other health disciplines is that kinesiology is an active therapy. As a client, you will be moving your body under the guidance of your kinesiologist during the session, rather than being passively moved by a therapist.
Why is Kinesiology important?
In our day-to-day routines, movement makes up a huge part of our lives!
Without regular activity and exercise in our day, we become deconditioned and are more prone to musculoskeletal (muscle or bone) injury from the movement demands of everyday life. Injuries can lead to loss of function, limiting movement and activity, leading to less function, leading to more movement limitations, and on and on. This cycle is amplified with age.
We need strong and supportive muscles and bones which we can achieve through movement and exercise. Our brains also need practice coordinating with the rest of our body. This strength and coordination is critical for everyday activities of daily life like running for the bus, playing with the dog, and even getting up from the toilet.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, if we were to improve Canadian’s activity level by decreasing the number of inactive Canadians by just 10%, we’d see a 30% reduction in mortality and free up our doctors’ time creating a more accessible healthcare system (CKA, 2020).
In this guide to kinesiology, you’ll learn:
- How kinesiology is defined
- The value of kinesiology
- What kinesiologists can help you with
- When to search out the services of a kinesiologist
- Who are kinesiologists and what training do they have?
- Where kinesiologists work
- Techniques that kinesiologists use
- What positive outcomes you can expect with working with a kinesiologist
- Who is kinesiology for?
To understand the value of kinesiology services, they can be broken down into various parts:
For post-accident injuries that resulted from workplace (WCB), vehicle (ICBC), or sport accidents. Kinesiologists help with returning to work or sport in a safe and durable manner.
Chronic Health Conditions Management
Kinesiologists help with management of chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes through healthy lifestyle change and exercise prescription.
They can provide specialized training to help increase aerobic or muscular strength/endurance in relation to specific goals. Goals can include training for a marathon, improving body composition or excelling at a specific sport.
Kinesiologists can perform ergonomic assessments to analyze the current ergonomic design of clients' workstations and provide solutions and best practices to maximize comfort and sustainability.
They provide guidance in goal setting, general diet advice, healthy habits, and introducing more movement into the daily routine.
Neuromuscular Conditions Management
Kinesiologists provide physical training for individuals with neuromuscular conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), post-stroke impairments, or spinal cord injury to help them perform activities of daily living. They provide support for mobility, gait training, and strengthening for locomotion.
Kinesiologists can help you:
- Prevent and manage a variety of different physical conditions
- Avoid injuries from happening and help recover from them when they do
- Prevent and manage chronic pain
- Improve productivity and comfort in the workplace
- Save money on future health expenses
- Help you excel in sport-specific activities
The techniques that kinesiologists use to support you can vary. Kinesiologists use a holistic approach to your health and wellness-covering everything from strength training to healthy diet and sleep education.
With a background in strength and conditioning, kinesiologists create exercise programs and progressions that help you get stronger while reducing the risk of re-injury. Often this includes education on proper movement patterns for daily activities like lifting and carrying at home or at the workplace. This can help with improving productivity and comfort in your workplace and in the field.
Kinesiologists are trained in identifying and treating muscle imbalances that may be causing pain or dysfunction. With an in-depth assessment, kinesiologists determine issues in your functional movement patterns like a squat and hip hinge. They compare your left and right sides to locate muscle imbalances through strength and flexibility testing.
Who are kinesiologists and what training do they have?
Kinesiologists are registered health professionals that apply exercise and movement science to promote health and well being, prevent, manage and rehabilitate injuries and manage chronic disease. Kinesiologists can also restore function, and optimize human performance in the workplace.
The use of evidence-based techniques in one-on-one or in a group setting is an accurate description of kinesiology therapy. This way they can provide personalized treatment based on the client's goals.
Kinesiologists may be called by different names such as exercise physiologist, exercise therapist, or athletic therapist depending on their training and specialty. Regardless of their title, these exercise specialists have a goal to help you move and live better.
An undergraduate degree in kinesiology and certification with the provincial kinesiology association are prerequisites to being a kinesiologist. Within British Columbia, this is the British Columbia Kinesiologists Association (BACK). Kinesiologists also are certified in Standard First Aid and CPR. Most kinesiologists focus primarily on injury assessment and rehabilitation (CKA, 2019).
One often overlooked fact is that kinesiology is a common undergraduate degree for most health professions. Health professionals often start with kinesiology on their educational journey to learn in-depth about how the human body moves. It is common to meet physiotherapists, chiropractors and doctors who have a kinesiology background.
Where do kinesiologists work?
Kinesiologists are all around us! They work in the clinical setting such as hospitals or rehabilitation centres, in the community (in client’s homes), or at recreation centres (gyms/pools). Some kinesiologists may additionally travel for home visits. Wherever you are, a kinesiologist can meet you there.
What techniques do kinesiologists use?
What is the process when working with a kinesiologist?
During a 15 minute phone consultation, you will share your goals and challenges, you will learn more about kinesiology, if working with a kinesiologist is right for you, and what’s to come next. You’ll be sent an intake form to fill out so your kinesiologist can best prepare and support you during your assessment.
Your kinesiologist will ask about where you are at now and where you want to go. In the one hour initial assessment you’ll dive more into your goals and define them further. Your kinesiologist will perform a functional movement screen with you to see what your current baseline is that will lay the foundation for the next step.
You will work together with your kinesiologist to find exercises that work for you to get the results you want. Here the kinesiologist will create a program that will focus on stability, mobility, and strength.
Ongoing care and Support
Based on your progress your kinesiologist will help you with the transition to becoming more independent. This may look like a tapering of sessions or providing an at-home exercise program so you can continue on your own.
What types of exercises will I do with a kinesiologist?
A kinesiologist will lead you in performing a variety of different exercises that are tailored to your needs and goals. These exercises focus on strength, stabilization, and mobilization.
Some examples of exercises you may do in your session are:
- Squats and split squats
- Bird Dogs
- Rotator cuff stability exercises
- Wall angels, open books for shoulder mobility
- Hip hinges
- Single leg balance, Bosu ball and stability board exercises
- Ladder work for agility
- Circuit training or cardio intervals for aerobic exercises
Positive outcomes that come from working with a kinesiologist are:
- Decrease in pain
- Weight loss
- Return to sports or recreation activities
- Increase in strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness
- Improved body mechanics and function
- Improved outlook, confidence and life satisfaction
- Exercise skills
As Symmetrix clients progress through their exercise therapy program they regain control over their activity and physical health. We help develop healthy routines at the gym or at home to improve long term wellbeing for life.
Why choose Symmetrix for Kinesiology?
Symmetrix Exercise & Rehab is a private studio specializing in kinesiology and exercise therapy. All of our clients get one-on-one therapy with a professional kinesiologist – a highly personalised experience compared to the gym, but with space and equipment necessary to really get moving.
All of our clients receive professional exercise therapy uniquely tailored to their health challenges. Clients benefit from getting back to the activities that they love as quickly as possible.
Working with a kinesiologist means gaining access to a professional with deep experience providing exercise plans. In addition, thanks to our COVID “pivot”, we now have expertise with virtual sessions so clients also have the option to do sessions from home, online.
How can I learn more?
Book a free consultation with one of our kinesiologists today to learn more about how a kinesiologist can help you.
Have more questions? You may also like:
“What is Kinesiology? Who are Kinesiologists?.” Canadian Kinesiology Alliance, 02 April, 2019, https://www.cka.ca/en/what-is-kinesiology.
“2020 Fact Sheet: A Summary from the National Kinesiology Survey.” Canadian Kinesiology Alliance, 15 December 2020,