Having trouble deciding if seeing a kinesiologist is right for you?
Kinesiology has been around for over 100 years but it is seen as a relatively 'new' therapy. Only now are kinesiologists starting to be recognized by insurance companies and company health plans. You may have been recommended by a doctor to see a kinesiologist or have heard about a positive experience from a friend or family member.
As a practice kinesiology is also incredibly diverse-kinesiologists are health professionals that use a science-based yet holistic approach to your health and wellness. This can cover everything from strength training for sports injuries and human movement education to diet modification and lifestyle habit change. Kinesiology encompasses a physical approach to wellness that is both effective and gentle.
Below I will outline 7 key reasons to see a kinesiologist and how they can help you live a healthier and more active life.
1. See a kinesiologist to prevent injuries
A gram of prevention is worth a kilo of rehab. Similar to how a dull knife is more hazardous in the kitchen, deconditioned muscles can lead to injuries. That’s because the deconditioning of our bodies leaves us vulnerable to the strain of unexpected movements.
Kinesiologists are trained in identifying and treating muscle imbalances and weaknesses that may result in future pain or dysfunction. With an in-depth assessment, kinesiologists determine issues in your functional movement patterns like a squat and hip hinge. A kinesiologist will also perform muscle strength testing with you such as timed planks and glute bridges.
With the results of an assessment, a kinesiologist will create an exercise program and progressions that help you get stronger while reducing the risk of injury or re-injury. A kinesiology program also includes education on how to move and position your body for daily activities like lifting and carrying at home or at the workplace.
2. A Kinesiologist helps you recovery from injury
If you have injured yourself, a physical function screen can also help identify the degree of muscle/tissue dysfunction.
Some examples of injuries that are improved with exercise intervention are:
- Rotator Cuff Injury
- ACL or MCL ligament tears in the knee
- Whiplash Associated disorders
- Muscle strains
Kinesiology encompasses active therapy for rehabilitation of an injury, different from passive treatment from physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This means a kinesiology client will be moving their body in a variety of different ways during the session, perfectly complimenting other treatments.
Strategies like dynamic stretching, resistance training, meditation, and general nutrition advice are all used to help a client's physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn promotes recovery.
3. A kinesiologist will perfectly compliment your current treatment
Kinesiologists work with other practitioners like physiotherapists and occupational therapists to create a clear picture of the problem. The combination of the physiotherapist's diagnosis and the kinesiologist's physical screen, the kinesiology practitioner can select the appropriate techniques that would be best suited for the client.
For example, if a physiotherapist’s diagnosis is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (pain at the front of the knee), a kinesiologist will look at your ability to balance on one leg. Not being able to stay stable in this position can be an indicator of weak hip stabilizers, which in turn can alter the way forces are being loaded on your knee. A disproportionate level of stress on the inside of the knee due to knee caving can cause irritation there.
4. Prevent and manage a variety of different health issues
An overwhelming body of evidence suggests that physical activity can alter body weight (up or down), combat health conditions and diseases such type 2 diabetes and cancer, improve mood and energy levels, promote quality sleep and generally improve social interactions and wellbeing.
Some chronic conditions that can be treated with kinesiology are:
Regular exercise can favorably reduce blood pressure by 6-9mmHg. In people diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD), exercise training improves symptoms of angina and congestive heart failure (Miller et al., 1997)
Regularly exercising with a kinesiologist may prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes, which is affected by lifestyle factors like diet and exercise. Improved cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and insulin sensitivity are health changes that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes both benefit from (Colberg et al., 2016).
High blood pressure
Aerobic exercise reduced the blood-pressure in both hypertensive and normotensive persons. An increase in aerobic physical activity should be considered an important component of lifestyle modification for the prevention and treatment of high blood-pressure (Welton et al, 2002).
Physical activity has been reported to be associated with a lowered risk of recurrence of breast cancer and colorectal cancer (Idorn and Straten, 2017).
Studies have shown the positive association between exercising and better sleep in multiple age groups (Youngstedt and Kline, 2006). Exercise can help stabilize your mood and relieve stress during the day, which in turn can help you transition into sleep quicker.
For many years the World Health Organization has categorized obesity as a chronic illness (WHO, 2000). Exercise is associated favorably with positive change in body composition such as increased lean muscle mass, and decreased adipose (fat) tissue surrounding your organs. This can happen even without an overall decrease in weight loss. By combining an exercise program with a healthy diet you can both manage your weight and achieve many health benefits.
5. Relieve and improve chronic pain
Studies have shown that physical activity can significantly improve physical function in those who suffer from chronic pain including conditions such rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and low back discomfort (Geneen et al. 2017).
If you suffer from chronic pain (defined as lasting longer than the average tissue healing time of 12 weeks) seeing a kinesiologist can help. Kinesiologists use the concept of ‘Progressive overload’ in creating an exercise program to help you slowly get used to more movement in a safe and durable way.
This means that over a series of weeks, you will gradually increase the amount of exercise you do to gently stress your body’s tissues so that you can return to completing activities of daily living.
With more acute cases of chronic pain, a kinesiologist can also work with you in the water. Exercising in a pool provides extra buoyancy that puts less pressure on your joints, while continuing to add resistance to movement due to the viscosity of the water. Plus, a soak in the hot tub at the end of the session can work wonders for sore limbs!
6. Improve productivity and comfort in the workplace
Are you experiencing soreness while working? You may not know this, but a poor desk set-up or uncomfortable work chair can have an impact on your health.
A kinesiologist can identify the cause of pain by performing an ergonomic assessment and provide you with long-term solutions. Ergonomics is a specialty within kinesiology, which aims to increase your efficiency and productivity while reducing discomfort that comes from working at home or in the office.
A kinesiologist can instruct you on how to adjust the design of your workstation such as moving equipment and changing your posture. They can also provide any exercises or stretches that offer you pain relief while working. Whether it is a home office or large communal working space, kinesiologists use ergonomic techniques that decrease and prevent pain and increase the general wellness of you and your team.
7. Saves you money on future health expenses
A study in the Lancet Medical Journal (2016) showed that physical inactivity costs our health-care systems $53.8 billion worldwide in 2013, plus additional costs in lost productivity. That’s a huge cost that could be avoided with proper simple activity.
In people over the age of 45 years, medical costs incurred from chronic illness greatly outweighs the investment into physical activity interventions like working with a kinesiologist or personal trainer (Nicholls, Coleman, and Brazier, 1994).
Kinesiologists can help you by providing science-backed education/coaching on exercise, health, and nutrition. Having support in healthy lifestyle change can lead to less medication and doctor’s visits down the line.
8. Help you excel in sport-specific activities
Kinesiologists use the study of biomechanics and athletic training to help athletes of all levels succeed in their sport. Sports often have very unique movements such as an overhead stroke in swimming or a low squat while running in field hockey. These variations in human movement demand different approaches when it comes to selecting what type of strengthening you do. Kinesiologists work with you to tailor your fitness program to mimic your sport's demands such as jumping, squatting, running, and throwing.
By targeting and applying stress to specific muscles and joints that perform those actions, (for example, strengthening parts of the rotator cuff if you are a baseball player), you will not only perform at a higher level but also prevent sport-related injuries before they happen. In addition to muscle strengthening, mobility exercises and stretching can help release tension in the areas/limbs that are being used.
Whether you want to tackle a chronic health issue like high blood pressure or score more goals in soccer, kinesiologists are here to help you. I hope my experience has helped you make a decision on how to move forward in your situation. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about why you should see a kinesiologist.
Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Yardley JE, et al. Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(11):2065-2079. doi:10.2337/dc16-1728
Todd D. Miller, M.D., Gary J. Balady, M.D., Gerald F. Fletcher, M.D., Exercise and its role in the prevention and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 19, Issue 3, September 1997, Pages 220–229, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02892287
Whelton SP, Chin A, Xin X, et al. Effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. 2002. In: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK69571/
Idorn, M., thor Straten, P. Exercise and cancer: from “healthy” to “therapeutic”?. Cancer Immunol Immunother 66, 667–671 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-017-1985-z
Youngstedt SD, Kline CE. Epidemiology of exercise and sleep. Sleep Biol Rhythms. 2006;4(3):215-221. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2006.00235.x
Geneen LJ, Moore RA, Clarke C, Martin D, Colvin LA, Smith BH. Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD011279. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011279.pub3. Accessed 10 February 2022.
Nicholl JP, Coleman P, Brazier JE. Health and healthcare costs and benefits of exercise. 1994. In: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK66286/